2014 TigsTools: Best Fastball

The Tigers have long been known for churning out pitchers with big fastballs, many of them with big bodies to go with it. While that trend holds true as the Tigers continue to covet velocity, the upper-90 to 100 mph heat shown by the likes of Joel Zumaya and Bruce Rondon in the past, isn't as prevalent in the system today. Get all the details on the top fastballs in the system inside!

Best Fastball
1. Edgar De La Rosa (RHP)
2. Jose Valdez (RHP)
3. Angel Nesbitt (RHP)
4. Joe Jimenez (RHP)
5. Josh Laxer (RHP)

The Tigers ability to keep cranking out high-powered arms is nothing short of impressive, and after signing Edgar De La Rosa as a long, lanky kid with an upper-80s fastball, their dreams of a projectable fastball finally came true in 2012. In 2014, De La Rosa discovered the ability to air it out and still throw strikes, and the result was an upper-90s fastball that reached 98-100 mph throughout his starts. That type of heat plays well in any role, and given the slower development of his secondary pitches, “DeLa” could see his raw heat play at those upper registers in a relief role.

Both Jose Valdez and Angel Nesbitt are thick bodied, power arms with exposure to Double-A and the potential to develop into 7th or 8th inning pitchers. Both pitchers struggle with control on a regular basis, and their raw velocity plays down slightly as a result, but when they are throwing strikes, Valdez and Nesbitt can both blow hitters away.

After signing as an undrafted free agent and projecting as a starter out of the gate, Jimenez moved to the bullpen in 2014 and absolutely blew away the NYPL. With an aggressive delivery and excellent life on his fastball, Jimenez dominated hitters with a 94-96 mph fastball that touched as high as 98 mph at times.

2014 draft pick Josh Laxer showed mid-90s heat at times during his debut and has a reputation for pumping 95-96 mph regularly when he’s at full strength; something he likely wasn’t following a lengthy college season in 2014. Laxer could move quickly through the system and he has a chance to develop into an arm similar to Valdez and Nesbitt as he reaches the upper levels.

Honorable Mention
Brenny Paulino (RHP)
Montreal Robertson (RHP)
Spencer Turnbull (RHP)

Paulino’s presence in and around this list has become common place over the last few years, and after two years lost to injury, he still flashed mid- to upper-90s gas, but lacks any ability to throw strikes consistently. While Montreal Robertson can show heat in the 95-97 mph range out of the bullpen, similar to Paulino, he has slightly better ability to throw strikes. Robertson needs to find consistency in every aspect of his game, and he remains raw despite his professional experience.

The Tigers second round pick out of Alabama, Turnbull has a workhorse frame and good strength that allows him to reach back for 94-95 mph velocity, and in short stints in the NYPL he showed a few 97s along the way.

Projection Kings
Anthony Castro (RHP)
Adonis Figueroa (RHP)
Eduardo Jimenez (RHP)

Despite making his stateside debut and flashing easy low-90s heat that reached 94 mph on occasion, Castro still has projection left with his fastball. Some scouts remain convinced that Castro could see a velocity spike in the coming years and may sit in the mid-90s at his peak.

Just before going down with Tommy John surgery, Jimenez began showing 94-95 mph heat in extended spring training and was drawing plenty of buzz within the organization and the industry. If he can return to health and find his velocity again, Jimenez could reach higher on this list in future years.

Signed as a J2 kid last summer, 16-year old Adonis Figueroa has impressed scouts with his loose arm and an easy delivery. His fastball already works in the 88-92 mph range and most scouts that have seen Figueroa believe he could be next in a long line of really hard throwing Tigers prospects.

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