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2017 TigsTools: Detroit Tigers Best Starter Fastball

Success as a pitcher begins and ends with the fastball. Even slider specialists and knuckleballers need a fastball to keep hitters honest. But there’s more to it than just lighting up the radar gun. Velocity is important, but so are command and movement, and recent research suggests that spin rate (RPM) and extension (how far in front of the rubber the ball is released) are also keys to good fastballs. It’s no secret that the Tigers love a big fastball, so it shouldn’t be a shock that the system

Best Fastball (Starter)

1. Sandy Baez

2. Beau Burrows

3. Anthony Castro

4.  Matt Manning

5. Gregory Soto

 

Baez was relatively unknown to most fans before the Tigers added him to their 40-man roster. The 23-year-old impressed in spring training, but scouts in the Midwest League were already well acquainted with his fastball. Baez’s heater sits in the mid-90s and frequently flirts with triple-digits, and he holds his velocity deep into games thanks to his sturdy build.

 

A first-round pick in 2015, Burrows can’t claim the same height or athleticism as last year’s first rounder Matt Manning, but he hit the high-90s as a high schooler, and the broad shouldered Texas still brings it in the 93-96 range with solid sink.

 

Castro returned from Tommy John surgery last season and flashed the same nasty fastball he had before his injury. It sits in the 92-94 range and plays up thanks to impressive movement.

 

The Tigers picked Manning 9th overall in last year’s draft thanks to his athletic bloodlines, projectible frame, and fastball that sits in the 93-95 range. He has reached the high-90s in the past, and the Tigers think he may throw harder as he matures.

 

The only lefty in the top five, Soto boasts a strong fastball that sits in the low-90s and can hit 95-96 with regularity.

 

Honorable Mention

Artie Lewicki

Kyle Funkhouser

 

Funkhouser and Lewicki both own 50 or 55-grade fastballs that sit in the 89-94 range as starters, though both can get up to 95 or higher in short stints. Lewicki hit 96 in the Arizona Fall League, and Funkhouser reportedly hit 97 in the Fall instructional league.



Projection Kings

Francisco German

Cristhian Tortosa

 

Francisco German may ultimately end up in the bullpen, but seven of his eight appearances last season were starts, and all eight lasted at least four innings. The young Dominican can run his fastball up to 95-96, and some scouts project him to flirt with triple digits once he fully matures.

 

Tortosa turned 18 last October and he currently sits in the 90-91 range with his fastball, but the young lefty’s loose, quick arm and ideal pitcher’s frame lead scouts to project easy mid-90s heat in the near future.

 

Why He Missed

Spencer Turnbull

Two years ago Turnbull was sitting in the mid-90s and hitting 97-98 with regularity as a starter for the West Michigan Whitecaps, but arm issues kept him out of action for a good portion of 2016. When he returned to the mound his velocity was sitting in the low 90s, and he topped out at 96 in the Arizona Fall League. He’ll need to prove he can find his old velocity and maintain it deeper into games this year to get back on the list.


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