Nick Peterson: The Staten Island closer last year was very inconsistent with his slider and changeup and essentially threw just fastballs in the 90-93 MPH range. He has good command of his fastball and it could be a better weapon for him once he develops his secondary pitches more.
Michael Dunn: For a first year converted pitcher, Dunn boasted a very impressive fastball. The southpaw averaged 90-93 MPH with his heater but it was the immediate command of his fastball that has some insiders believing he could move up the minor league ladder pretty quickly in the bullpen.
Anthony Claggett: Acquired from the Detroit Tigers this offseason, Claggett saved 14 games and posted a 0.91 ERA in the Midwest League last season on the strength of a fastball that sat 91-94 MPH. The former college shortstop didn't start pitching until his junior year of school and there exists the possibility he could improve his velocity.
|Wilkins De La Rosa is already hitting 97 MPH and could follow Ferdin Tejeda as a convert into the bullpen. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Lance Pendleton: Working his way back from Tommy John surgery after just nine professional appearances with the Staten Island Yankees in 2005, it has not been determined whether or not he'll be converted to a full-time reliever. But with a fastball that sits comfortably 90-94 MPH and tops out at 96, and with the increasing depth of quality starters at the lower minor league levels, we're betting on the former Rice University standout finding a home in the bullpen.
Top Ten Fastballs For Relief Pitchers
10) Wilkins Arias: The southpaw is armed with a four-seam fastball that sits 91-93 MPH and tops out at 95 with good command. He also throws a two-seamer in the 90-92 MPH range with good sinking life and his loose delivery allows his velocity to remain consistent. He started 22 games (just nine relief appearances) for the Riverdogs in 2006 but all signs are pointed towards him making a permanent switch to the bullpen.
9) Sean Henn: Like Arias, Henn gives the Yankees another lefty with a power arm. Sitting 92-94 MPH and reaching the 96 MPH plateau, he once threw a tick or two higher in his younger days and now shifting to the bullpen full-time, there's the possibility he can rediscover some of that lost velocity. He gets real good sinking action with his fastball and he's pretty adept at keeping it in the lower-half of the strike zone.
|J. Brent Cox doesn't light up the radar guns but his two-seamer ranks among the best. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) J. Brent Cox: Proving velocity isn't everything, Cox has one of the best fastballs among the relievers despite sitting just 88-92 MPH with his fastball. Throwing only two-seamers, he is able to generate a lot of movement and great sinking action with his fastball with impeccable command. While he won't light the radar gun or pile up the strikeout totals, there aren't many more effective fastballs.
6) Mark Melancon: The former University of Arizona closer underwent Tommy John surgery this offseason, a surgery where some pitchers come back throwing even harder. Considering he already owns a great sinking two-seamer in the 90-93 MPH range and a four-seamer that consistently sits 92-94 and tops out at 96, that could be bad news for opposing batters once he finds his way back on to the mound. He profiles as a big league closer and his fastball is a big reason why.
|Jeff Kennard went from averaging 90-93 MPH in 2005 to averaging 92-95 MPH in 2006. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Jeff Kennard: Sitting mostly in the 90-93 MPH range the previous two years, Kennard saw a spike in his velocity in 2006. He averaged 92-95 MPH with his four-seam fastball last season and even hit 98 MPH a few times. Throw in the fact he has a Chien-Ming Wang type power sinker in the 90-94 MPH range, Kennard owns an impressive fastball combination.
3) Jesse Hoover: Unable to pitch each of the last two seasons because of a back injury, Hoover is working his way back into the mix and he should be ready to return at some point in May. When he's healthy, there are few hurlers with his type of juice. He consistently sits in the 93-95 range and can hit 97 MPH with great command and it's one of the reasons the Yankees haven't given up on him...and the same reason neither have we.
2) Kevin Whelan: Acquired from the Detroit Tigers this offseason, Whelan's meal ticket is his power fastball. The former catcher for Texas A&M University was tried out as a pitcher in his sophomore year and made the move after showcasing a 96-98 MPH fastball. Like Hoover, he sits comfortably in the 93-95 MPH range and while his mechanics cause him to be a bit wild at times, the Yankees have proven in the past they are quite effective at making adjustments with their pitchers.
1) Ferdin Tejeda: The former shortstop prospect was moved to the mound in 2005 to make better use of his plus arm and the immediate results were staggering - averaging 96-97 MPH consistently. Tommy John surgery later that same year put him on the shelf until late last season. While he only averaged 94-95 MPH upon his return, Tejeda knows he can return to his pre-surgery velocity. He also has very good command of his fastball, a reason why some insiders believe he will move pretty rapidly towards the big leagues.