Matthew DeSalvo: While a strong argument could be made to put him in the top ten, the fact is he has favored his curveball over the last two seasons. His slider is Major League quality and it has come a long way over the past three seasons.
Humberto Sanchez: Like DeSalvo, Sanchez throws a power slider with excellent movement but prefers to throw his hard-biting curveball instead. It can be a plus pitch for him at times but he'll need to throw it more in game situations for it to be a reliable weapon for him.
Francisco Castillo: Castillo's slider, like his fastball, took a hit velocity-wise in 2006 and it became a less effective pitch for him as a result. It started out as a curveball earlier in his career and it has morphed into more of a slider over the last season and he needs to improve his velocity and command of it in order to break the Top Ten.
|Sean Henn has a slider that is nearly impossible for left-handed batters to hit. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Josh Schmidt: Schmidt has one of the nastier moving sliders in the organization - period! Sitting 81-84 MPH with his slider, the problem he ran into in the Florida State League last season, a lot of times his slider moves too much for his own good and misses the zone too frequently. He needs to improve his location a bit more as the advanced batters learned to lay off of his slider last season.
Cory Stuart: Like Schmidt, Stuart is a side-armer that generates a ton of movement with his frisbee-like slider, and while that's especially tough on right-handed batters, he too has a hard time finding consistent location with his slider. The Yankees are planning on dropping his arm angle in the hopes eliminating the flatness he had in his slider last season and getting him to throw in the lower part of the plate.
Top Ten Sliders
10) Jeff Kennard: Throwing a power slider in the 85-86 MPH range, Kennard vastly improved the consistency in his location with it last season. It still runs a little hot and cold for him at times, enough to prevent him from ranking higher on this list. But with the power and break he's able to generate, it can be quite nasty.
9) Jason Jones: Jones gets lost in a farm system filled with power arms. And while he doesn't throw too many pitches above 90 MPH, he does have a devastating slider that sits in the 81-83 MPH with great tailing action. While there are hurlers with more powerful sliders, not many can match the command and location of his.
|Ian Kennedy's slider is already Major League quality with great control. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Ian Kennedy - Like Jones, Kennedy doesn't get the respect he deserves from critics simply because he doesn't throw a power fastball. But what Kennedy lacks in fastball velocity he more than makes up with solid secondary pitches, including a big league slider. And like Jones, Kennedy has the ability to spot his slider inside on lefties and outside to righties for called strikes at will.
6) J. Brent Cox - While it's true that Cox isn't a prolific strikeout pitcher by any means, his plus slider is his main strikeout pitch. It sits in the 80-85 MPH range with great movement and he has excellent command of it. His lack of a power fastball doesn't exactly profile him as a future big league closer but his slider is special enough he could handle the duties if called upon.
|Grant Duff will throw his plus slider in any count and in any situation. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Ferdin Tejeda - Like Duff, Tejeda is a power arm who gets a ton of run with his plus slider. It is the weakest of his three pitches from a location standpoint, which speaks volumes to his natural ability. If he can improve the consistency of the command of his slider, it is a special enough pitch to rank even higher on this list.
3) George Kontos - Throwing a hard slider in the 83-86 MPH range, Kontos has impeccable command of his slider and it served as his main strikeout pitch in a brilliant debut season with the Staten Island Yankees last year. It is an extremely tough pitch for opposing right-handed batters and his plus slider is the reason a lot of scouts were initially projecting him as a future big league setup man or closer.
2) T.J. Beam - Beam has become a fastball-slider machine over the last two seasons, painting the black with incredible consistency. His slider has ranged from 82-86 MPH over the years but he has gotten it to the point where it comes it at 86 MPH nearly every time. While the command of his fastball is a sight to behold, the command of his slider is even better.
1) Joba Chamberlain - Chamberlain compliments his plus fastball with a plus slider in the 80-87 MPH range which serves as one of his strikeout pitches. As he proved in the Hawaiian Winter League this past offseason, he has incredible command of his slider and he has impressed everybody in the organization with the movement he can generate with it. His slider is one of the reasons he projects to move quickly up the minor league ladder.