2011 TigsTools: Best Fastball

The fastball is one of those tools that can draw "Oohs" and "Aahs" from anyone watching the game as they watch the scoreboard radar gun light up with big numbers. It's not all about velocity though as the movement of the fastball can dictate the ultimate success of the pitch. This list looks at total fastball grade including velocity in the windup, stretch and the movement of the pitch.

Best Fastball
1. Bruce Rondon
2. Ramon Lebron
3. Brenny Paulino
4. Casey Crosby
5. Tyler Stohr

Rondon's fastball matches his massive frame as he can dial it up to 98-99 mph consistently and can even touch 94-95 when he drops his arm slot down toward a side-arm angle. His fastball has good sink helping him induce weak contact in addition to plenty of swings and misses.

Lebron and Paulino both have outstanding raw velocity as they can run it up there into the mid-90s with ease and Lebron has touched triple digits in the past. Both pitchers can flatten out their fastballs when they overthrow but the pure velocity earns high marks from scouts.

In the case of Crosby he has touched 97 from the left side in the past but sat at 94-95 this year with improved control (not necessarily command). He has explosive life on his fastball. Stohr can work in the same range as Crosby but lacks the life seen from the lefty, leaving him half a tick behind in overall grade.

Honorable Mention
Melvin Mercedes
Jose Ortega
Montreal Robertson

Mercedes has the best movement of this trio, imparting excellent sink to his 92-94 mph fastball that touched higher before his injury. Ortega's fastball comes in flat but can get up to 95-96 mph when he is healthy. Robertson showed 97 mph at times after signing but he was inconsistent and also sat in the 91-92 range in some outings.

Projection Kings
Daniel Hernandez
Rafael Manzanillo
Miguel Montero
Chad Smith

Hernandez has made nice strides in strength and velocity in the last two years and some scouts believe he could settle in with a 93-94 mph fastball consistently. Manzanillo and Montero have both touched 95-96 mph already but have absolutely no clue where it is going and lack the consistent mechanics to maintain that velocity from pitch to pitch. Smith is a wild card in this discussion as he showed mid-90s heat before Tommy John surgery and the Tigers will be waiting to see if he can return to those lofty radar gun readings.

Others Considered
Endrys Briceno
Edgar De La Rosa
Matt Hoffman
Michael Morrison
Andrew Oliver
Jacob Turner
Brayan Villarreal
Ryan Woolley

These players under consideration for the list have showed plus or plus-plus velocity or have enough projection that some believe they could get there down the line. Of those that could move from this section to the upper reaches of the list, Ryan Woolley stands out the most having shown 93-94 mph heat on the Cape and the potential to dial it back up there once he settles in as a pro.

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2011 TigsTools: Best Fastball

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