TigsTown.com - James Chipman

2017 TigsTools: Detroit Tigers Best Breaking Ball

Fastballs may be the most important pitch in baseball, but the history of the sport is littered with pitchers who were relegated to the bullpen or the minors because they couldn’t spin a breaking ball. Some breaking balls are just there to keep hitters honest, but the best sliders make hitters flail at air, and the best curves turn knees to jelly. Head inside to see which Tigers prospects rack up the strikeouts and make hitters shake their head as they walk back to the dugout.

Best Breaking Ball

1. Matt Hall (LHP)

2. Anthony Castro (RHP)

3. Adam Ravenelle (RHP)

4. Beau Burrows (RHP

5. Drew Smith (RHP)


Matt Hall’s fastball rarely approaches 90, but he still led all of college baseball with 171 strikeouts in 2015. The Tigers drafted him in the sixth round that year because his slow, looping curve gives batters fits. Left-handed hitters are especially vulnerable against the potential LOOGY, hitting just .178 with no home runs and 36 strikeouts in 2016.


Castro pairs a plus fastball with a tight curveball that projects to be a consistent plus pitch for him. He throws the late-breaking pitch in the low 80s and he can locate it for strikes or bury it below the zone to get swings and misses


Ravenelle throws more of a cutter than a true slider, but the low-90s offering can be a nasty pitch that misses bats and induces weak contact.


Burrows throws a curve with tight spin that has the potential to be an above-average pitch. He entered pro ball with an over-the-top delivery and a 12-6 breaking ball, but the Tigers tweaked his mechanics and the pitch now sits in the high-70s with 11-5 break.


Smith still throws his 12-6 curveball, and the sharp breaker should be an above-average pitch for him as he learns to mix it in with high fastballs.


Honorable Mention

Joe Jimenez (RHP)

Spencer Turnbull (RHP)

Bryan Garcia (RHP)


Joe Jimenez flashes an above-average slider with late break that he can throwin the mid-80s, and he can also manipulate the shape of the pitch into a slower, more slurvy get-me-over offering.


Turnbull has shown a hard slider in the past that flashes as a plus pitch, but with his diminished velocity last year it was more frequently average.

Garcia broke the career record for saves at the University of Miami, and the former Hurricanes closer did it in part thanks to mid-80s slider that has a chance to be a plus pitch.

Projection Kings

Matt Manning (RHP)

Wladimir Pinto (RHP)

Jake Baker (LHP)

Gregory Soto (LHP)


Manning came to the Tigers with a spike curveball that had a chance to be above-average, but the club is working with him on a more traditional grip to help improve his consistency. (Justin Verlander also entered pro ball with a knuckle-curve, but abandoned it because of blister problems).


Pinto has a big-time fastball and he backs it up with a curveball that shows the potential to above-average or better.


Jake Baker has yet to pitch in a professional game, but the 18-year-old Australian is already generating some hype thanks to a curveball that could be a plus weapon for him down the line.

Soto is still working on the consistency of his breaking stuff, but he flashes signs of having an above-average curve that he can also manipulate into a harder offering.

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