Yankees Tool Time: Best Changeups

In an effort to keep our premium subscribers up to speed on the Yankees' prospects, PinstripesPlus.com will dissect the top prospects in many different categories over the next few weeks. Here's a list of the best changeups in the Yankees' farm system, ranking the top ten.

Top 10 Changeups

10. Christian Garcia: In July of last year, one may not have even considered Christian Garcia for this list. However, he has taken leaps and bounds in this department. Learning a new grip from pitching coach, Carlos Reyes, Garcia has taken off in pre-spring training workouts. This could be a huge x-factor for him as he enters full season ball in 2005. It is still developing but it could turn into a plus pitch considering how well he has come with it thus far.

9. Brandon Harmsen: It probably has the least in common with any of the others on the list but Brandon Harmsen has command of just about everything. Some might call him somewhat of a righty version of Brad Halsey and that would be fairly accurate based on their changeups. A touch and feel type of pitcher, Harmsen knows how to tease batters just out of the zone and for that reason, he earns a spot on the list.

8. Jason Stephens: Here is one pitcher who, again, may not have a lights out changeup, but truly has a good feel for it. Rather than a dominating pitch, Stephens has the pitching intellect to use it more like Greg Maddux has throughout his illustrious career.

7. Tyler Clippard: In 2004, Tyler Clippard believed that he didn't have his best curveball so what did he do to compensate for that? Well, he improved his changeup into a very refined pitch. Not only did it help him to an excellent 2004 season but it also may have secured his future as a starter rather than a reliever. The only knock on T-Clip is that he sometimes gives in, leaving pitches in the middle of the plate, with his changeup in particular.

6. Phil Hughes: Like everything else, Phil Hughes is all about the command. As he admits, it is not his best pitch yet but there is a defined weakness in the changeup department in the system. So, the fact that he has a firm handle on it at his age, earns him this spot. It should only get better and better as he gets older and gains experience. Command is the key. He doesn't change his motion whatsoever so that will help him along the way as well.

5. Jason Jones: Although Jason Jones may not have the electric stuff of some of his fellow 2004 draftees, no one can deny that this guy really knows how to pitch. He does have a solid changeup that he has excellent command of. That is what makes all the difference with him. He can locate it anywhere in the strike zone and produce a lot of weak hacks.

4. Juan DeLeon: This righthander is one of the best relief pitching prospects in the Yankee farm system. To compliment a live fastball, DeLeon has a nasty changeup. The only reason he is not even higher on this list is the fact that he sometimes loses his good command with it and leaves it in the middle of the plate. Other than that, when he is on, it is as good as they come. It also qualifies as a power, strikeout type of changeup.

3. Mike Martinez: Did someone say Keith Foulke? Like Foulke, this polished college righty is a closer, at least for the time being. But, also like Foulke, he is not a power pitcher, producing a fastball in the high 80's to low 90's. However, his changeup is absolutely devastating out of the bullpen for the righthander. It is not so much a strikeout pitch but it is one of the best out pitches in the system nonetheless. He has a very refined, college approach using this pitch.

2. Matt DeSalvo: DeSalvo, like the number one on this list, also has a strikeout type of changeup. But, the only reason he is not number one is because his is not the prototypical power changeup and produces more grounders than anything else. But, overall, it is still a plus, plus pitch for the righthander. It is especially tough on left handed hitters.

1. Jeff Marquez: As pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras described it, Jeff Marquez has an outstanding power changeup. At times, it is good enough to appear like a lefty pitcher's slider. A true strikeout pitch, Marquez can dominate a game when this pitch is on, which is quite often. Also, as a compliment to a sinking fastball, it's effectiveness increases even more so. To put it simply, it is almost Pedro Martinez like when Jeff is on top of his game.

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