2014 TigsTools: Best Changeup

In a similar scenario as the best breaking balls in the system, the Tigers minor league pitchers still need some work in developing quality changeups. Several left-handed relievers and some starters offer quality slow offerings, but the majority still need some work to be MLB ready. Check inside to see who tops this year’s list.

Best Changeup
1. Joe Mantiply (LHP)
2. Buck Farmer (RHP)
3. Kyle Lobstein (LHP)
4. Kevin Ziomek (LHP)
5. Zach Reininger (RHP)

An unheralded 2013 draft pick, Mantiply moved quickly through the system in 2014, peaking at Double-A Erie, and drawing off-season praise as a pitcher that could see time in Detroit in 2015. Though he offers an average fastball, Mantiply will go as far as his above-average to plus changeup can take him. Mantiply maintains good arm speed with the pitch and that results in quality deception.

Both Farmer and Lobstein can flash above-average changeups when they are at their best. Farmer’s changeup took a step forward in 2014 and complimented his fringy to average arsenal well. He is still learning to set the pitch up and locate it within the strike zone, but it has the potential to become a reliable offering. Lobstein’s changeup remained an above-average pitch last season, though he did show an improved ability to move the pitch from side to side.

Checking in with average changeups that play well off the remainder of their broad arsenals, Ziomek and Reininger have no fear throwing their changeup in any count. Their confidence in the pitch is admirable, and the quality is such that it could work as a reliable Major League offering.

Honorable Mention
Artie Lewicki (RHP)
Drew VerHagen (RHP)
Josh Turley (LHP)

A senior sign from Virginia, Lewicki’s changeup will flash average and more frequently works in the 4+ range, but it shows well when used in conjunction with the rest of his arsenal. VerHagen is set to get additional big league time in 2015, and if his fringy changeup can more consistently show at the average level, he could help eat some innings at the back of a revamped Tigers rotation. Turley also offers a fringe-average changeup that plays well because of his arm speed, though it lacks separation from his below-average fastball.

Projection Kings
Oswaldo Castillo (RHP)
Eduardo Jimenez (RHP)

Two new prospects to the Tigers’ stateside scene, Castillo worked a changeup that some scouts believe could become an above-average pitch with additional work and improved consistency. His arm speed was good and the ball comes out of his hand with good velocity separation. Prior to going down with an elbow injury, Jimenez backed up his plus fastball with a quality changeup that has potential to develop into an average offering that can round out his arsenal and keep him in the starting rotation long term.

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