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2017 TigsTools: Detroit Tigers Best Reliever 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 (Reliever)

1. Adam Ravenelle

2. Gerson Moreno

3. Joe Jimenez

4. Mark Ecker

5. Drew Smith

 

The Tigers selected Ravenelle in the 4th round of the 2014 draft, but he pitched just four innings of pro ball that year after tossing 40 innings for Vanderbilt (which was nearly double his previous career total). Injuries and illness kept him from reaching his full potential in 2015 as well, but in 2016 his fastball was sitting in the 97-99 range with impressive sink, and he topped out at 101.

 

Moreno earned a promotion from West Michigan to Lakeland last year thanks in part to his nasty fastball. He pumps heat in the 95-98 range with a deceptively effortless delivery.

 

Jimenez comes at hitters with a fastball that mostly sits in the 94-97 range now, though he has gone higher in the past, and his heater plays up a bit thanks to impressive extension.

 

Ecker was the Tigers 5th round pick last year out of Texas A&M, and he has a chance to move quickly thanks to a mid-90s fastball that hits 97 and reached triple digits in college.

Essentially the 2015 version of Ecker, Smith was a 3rd round pick out of Dallas Baptist who stands out for his fastball that works in the 93-97 range.

 

Honorable Mention

Ruben Alaniz

Zac Houston

 

Alaniz may get overlooked because he was a minor-league free agent, but the former Houston Astros farmhand routinely throws in the mid-90s and there’s a chance it may take him to the Majors this season.

 

Speaking of Houston, Zac got a solid bonus as the Tigers 11th-round pick last year thanks to a fastball in the 93-95 range that tops out at 97 and features a steep downhill plane and heavy sink.



Projection Kings

Wladimir Pinto

Eduardo Jimenez

Jason Foley

 

There’s a good chance Pinto will top this list in the near future. Last year, as an 18-year-old, he was sitting in the 95-97 range, and he reportedly hit 100 on multiple occasions.

 

The other reliever named Jimenez in the system, Eduardo also owns an impressive fastball in the 94-95 range that should climb higher as he gets further away from his 2014 Tommy John surgery.

 

Foley went undrafted last year after compiling a 4.83 ERA in three seasons at Sacred Heart, but the Tigers pounced on him as a free agent after he struck out 19 batters in 11 innings in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. His fastball works in the 93-94 range, but he can pump it up to 96-97 when he needs to.

 

Why He Missed

Montreal Robertson

As a pitcher out of tiny Coahoma Community College Mississippi, Robertson is a great scouting story, and he was a fixture on this list in years past thanks to a lively fastball in the 95-97 range. But he suffered a freak shoulder dislocation while lifting weights during spring training in 2016, and until he gets back on the mound, there’s no telling what his fastball might look like.


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