Evan DeLuca: There's no problem with DeLuca's velocity, especially for a lefty. He not only sits 91-94 mph pretty consistently, he also shows excellent movement with his fastball. That kind of special combination should find a home in the Top Ten here, but his inconsistent delivery and resulting shaky command need to be harnessed for it to be the reliable weapon it could be.
Gabe Encinas: Like DeLuca, Encinas' power fastball will eventually be one of the Top Ten in the farm system but is still a little too inconsistent right now to break in. He's able to sit 92-94 mph with good movement out of the wind-up, but the velocity has dipped down to the 90 mph range when pitching out of the stretch. Fixing that minor problem would go a long way towards having one of the better fastballs consistently.
Mikey O'Brien: It remains to be seen if O'Brien [who might project better as an eventual reliever because of his smaller size] will stick as a starter long-term, but his 90-93 mph fastball down at the knees that can hit 95 mph pretty consistently from game to game is quite good already. It's definitely an above average pitch but it's not up to par with others in the Top Ten at the current time.
David Phelps: Like O'Brien, Phelps sits mostly 90-93 mph with his fastball and does so with very consistent command. He can top out in the 95 mph range too, but his fastball also pales in comparison to some of the special heaters boasted by others in the system at the current time.
Evan Rutckyj: Like DeLuca, Rutckyj has a plus fastball for a left-handed pitcher, sitting mostly in the 90-94 mph range with good movement, and that should allows him to crack the Top Ten here pretty soon. He's a bigger-bodied pitcher too who could add some more power as he fills out his frame down the road so it won't be long before he's known for having one of the better fastballs.
Top Ten Fastballs For Starting Pitchers
10) Hector Noesi - On pure velocity and movement, Noesi's fastball is one of the better offerings but it gets buried among some pretty special fastballs in the Top Ten. While he can crank it to the 95-96 mph range on occasion, he routinely sits 91-94 mph with his fastball and he can throw it for strikes extremely consistently. He does have a propensity to leave it up in the zone a little too often, but it is still an above average big league pitch.
9) Bryan Mitchell - Like Noesi, the soon-to-be 20-year old sits mostly in the 91-94 mph range. It doesn't top out much higher than that yet, but with loose arm action and some room to fill out there are a number of scouts who do believe that he will throw harder down the road. His fastball is heavy though already with good movement, making it a plus pitch for a hurler his age.
|MOVEMENT COUNTS: He doesn't throw as hard, but his fastball movement is unreal. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Jose Ramirez - Ramirez has a plus fastball that sits mostly 92-94 mph with good movement and natural tailing action, and he can command it quite well too. He has also shown flashes of being able to sit 94-96 mph at times, but that velocity level isn't very consistent to date. He has it in the tank though so if he could dial it up to that level more consistently, he'll move up the rankings.
6) Brett Marshall - The more things change, the more they stay the same. Marshall, who was in the Top Ten a year ago when he threw 92-95 mph but had faulty command of his four-seamer, is still ranked in roughly the same spot even though his fastball has changed pretty dramatically. Now having more movement, sink, and command, Marshall's fastball, which still averages 92-95 mph, is still one of the best fastball offerings in the Yankee farm system.
|SPECIAL SINKER: Stoneburner's sinking two-seamer gets great movement. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Adam Warren - What makes Warren so unique is the impeccable command he has of two plus fastballs. The first is a sinking two-seamer that sits 90-93 mph with great depth to it and the other is a power four-seam fastball in the 93-96 mph range that he can paint at the knees. Perhaps more so than any other pitching prospect in the organization, Warren lives on his fastball for the aforementioned reasons...they're very, very good.
3) Manny Banuelos: Banuelos had a Top ten fastball a year ago when it ranged from 90-92 mph, mostly because of its late life and his stellar command of it. He saw a bump in velocity last season though, getting it up to the 92-95 mph consistently and topping out between 96-97 mph, and still showing the same late life. It's just a matter of time before that great command comes back too.
2) Andrew Brackman: Brackman's velocity varied greatly in 2009, seeing it anywhere from 88-96 mph, but he got it back up to the 94-97 mph range last year in his second season back after Tommy John surgery. A bit smoother in his mechanics now and less max-effort, his easier motion has helped him sneak his heaters by some guys who think it's coming in a little softer than it actually does. He also gets some good sinking movement on his fastball.
1) Dellin Betances: Like Brackman, Betances saw his fastball velocity fluctuate quite a bit in 2009. It went from a 93-96 mph pitch down to a 92-94 mph pitch before getting it back up to the 93-96 mph range once again last year. He won't hit 99 mph on occasion like Brackman has done, but his fastball gets better natural movement and a little bit better late-life. His fastball is very explosive and one of the better pitches in minor league baseball.