2011 TigsTools: Best Breaking Ball

Prospect watchers have seen some filthy breaking balls come through over the last few years, including the curveballs of Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya, and the slider of Al Alburquerque. There's only one breaking ball in the system that can draw the praise of those impressive pitches, but there are several other very good ones floating around. Check inside to see who tops the list!

Best Breaking Ball
1. Luis Marte (RHP)
2. Jacob Turner (RHP)
3. Casey Crosby (LHP)
4. Duane Below (LHP)
5. Pedro Perez (RHP)

Marte's curveball is a legitimate plus-plus hammer that can baffle even the best of hitters at times. His curveball is enough to get him to the big leagues on its own, particularly when combined with some other quality offerings. Tiger fans could be watching big league batters swing through Marte's hammer like Pedro Cerrano in the movie Major League.

Turner and Crosby both show a plus curveball on a regular basis, with Turner's owning more long term projection to be a little better than a plus pitch. Below's curveball is a half a tick behind that of Turner and Crosby but it earns great reviews as well. Perez is a bit of a surprise entrant to the list but I walked away very impressed with his curveball at Connecticut this year.

Honorable Mention
Alex Burgos (LHP)
Bruce Rondon (RHP)

Some amateur scouts turned in plus future grades on Burgos' curveball prior to the 2010 draft but it rarely showed during the Instructional League that year. Once stronger and more consistent with his mechanics this year, Burgos' breaking ball showed plus more regularly in 2011. Rondon's slider is a very nice pitch that could tighten into a very nice pitch worthy of the top five down the line.

Projection Kings
Johan Belisario (RHP)

Belisario had the best breaking ball among all pitchers in the Tigers Latin American programs this year, both in terms of present break and future potential.

Others Considered
Bill Castillo
Tommy Collier
Luis Hidalgo
Wilsen Palacios
Jose Ortega
Michael Torrealba
Austin Wood

Of all the pitchers on this list, Austin Wood and Tommy Collier stand out the most for me. Wood's slider has been a very good pitch for him at times and could be a weapon for him out of a big league bullpen. Collier showed a legit plus slider prior to Tommy John surgery and there were signs of it coming back last summer.

Have questions about the list? Head to the discussion thread on the TigsTown Premium Forum to discuss in-depth!

2011 TigsTools: Best Breaking Ball

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