Yankees Tool Time: Best Control

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 prospects with the best control in the Yankees' system, ranking the top ten. (Free Preview!)

Top 10 Control Pitchers

10. Brandon Harmsen: Slowly becoming known as somewhat of a lefty version of former Yankee pitching prospect, Brad Halsey, Brandon Harmsen has many of the same traits. One of those traits is his good control. Considering he is not in any way, shape, or form a power pitcher, he needs to throw strikes. Harmsen, in 2004, was around the zone every game and earned himself a fine season. The only negative with him is when he is a little too aggressive with his less than power stuff. When he leaves the ball over the middle of the plate, he will not get away with it.

9. Justin Pope: Probably one of the most overlooked Yankee pitching prospects, Justin Pope has really had to transform his style over the past year, after becoming a Yankee. When the Cardinals selected him in the 1st round of the 2001 draft, he had a much better fastball than what he has now after having arm problems. However, it almost seems to have made him into a better pitcher. Although his fastball sits mostly in the high 80's, he has outstanding control and rarely gives a batter a base for free.

8. Mike Martinez: Yes, Mike Martinez has found his way onto yet another top ten list. Martinez, a closer for now, not only has the perfect makeup for a closer but the control to go along with it as well. In Staten Island in 2004, Martinez averaged well under one walk per nine innings pitched. With that kind of control, Martinez has a lot going for him as a future MLB reliever.

7. Jeff Karstens: It always seems as if Jeff Karstens always finds a way to slip under the radar. But, not in this case. Karstens not only had a very solid overall 2004 campaign but he showed the organization that his success had very much to do with his good control.

6. Eric Abreu: In 2004, Eric Abreu took the Yankee Farm System by storm. That success stemmed from what else, but control. This was never more evident than when he played for the Tampa Yankees late last season. He had worn down being that it was his first season with many innings under his belt, yet he was still dominating games because of his superior command.

5. Jason Stephens: He grew up watching Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. It sure looks like he has learned a thing or two from them about throwing strikes and hitting spots. In 2004, he average just under two walks per nine innings pitched while striking out nearly nine per nine innings. He is a very intelligent pitcher and his control seems to be only getting better with more experience in pro ball.

4. Chien-Ming Wang: He is perhaps the most big league ready pitching prospect that the Yankees have in their farm system. There is good reason for that considering his power stuff and his outstanding control. When the Yankees first signed Wang, his command was not as pinpoint as it is now but his control hasn't ever failed him. When he pieced together that control, power and command, he produced lights out results at the AAA level.

3. Tyler Clippard: Well, everyone was blown away when T-Clip put on an outstanding display of control in his professional debut, but when he kept the control on in a full season, people really began to chat about it. He has command of all three of his pitches, his fastball, curveball and changeup. In 2004, for the second straight season, the lanky righthander averaged under two walks per nine innings pitched. He's very aggressive and trusts every pitch in his arsenal.

2. Jason Jones: Perhaps the only reason that Jason Jones isn't sitting on top of this list is because he is nearly four years older than the number one on this list. It is not so much a negative for Jones but an incredible testament to our number one. But, as far as control goes, Jones is about as good as they come. He is not overpowering and depends very much on his location, much like someone like Jon Lieber or even Greg Maddux. If there's one thing he won't do is give in to a hitter and give them a base. Jones just attacks the strike zone.

1. Phil Hughes: The only question is, how can you not give the top spot to Phil Hughes? Not only does be possess power stuff in his repertoire, but he also combines that power with pinpoint control. You can look just about anywhere and you won't find a player with the total command of his stuff that this 18 year old righthander has. In his high school days, Phil was told by his pitching coach that walks were not allowed. Needless to say, he's kept that in mind and further built on it. When we asked Phil how many walks he thought he would allow in 2005, he responded with "7". Although it is likely a hyperbole, it may not be quite as exaggerated as one might think.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories