Manny Barreda: Sitting 92-94 MPH with his fastball in high school last season prior to being drafted, the 5-foot-11 hurler tired down the stretch and sat mostly in the 90-93 MPH range with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in his debut season. If he returns to his pre-signing velocity, he has the goods to break the Top Ten.
Noel Castillo: On sheer velocity alone, Castillo has Top Ten power right now. Sitting mostly in the 91-94 MPH range and topping out around 95-96 MPH last season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees, the 24-year old should not be overlooked. If he can duplicate the same heater next season, and remain a starting pitcher, he'll break into the elite company.
Grant Duff: Duff, who normally sits in the 90-95 MPH range, was a mess mechanically at times and saw his fastball dip down to 88 MPH at various points last season. When he's going right he has very good power with a good downward plane. He is a candidate to move to the bullpen sometime soon and that bears watching in this category.
Mike Dunn: Like Duff, Dunn is a viable bullpen option as soon as the upcoming 2008 season and for that reason we can't break him into the Top Ten category just yet. He averages 90-93 MPH with his four-seam fastball and does have a two-seam fastball that he mixes in as well, giving him the best combination of velocity and command of any left-hander in the organization.
Jairo Heredia: He didn't average the same velocity as the other names on this last last season, sitting mostly 88-91 MPH and topping out around 92-93 MPH - but he is still only 18 years old. Keeping that in mind, he should start seeing his velocity increase and his plus command of his fastball is among the best in the farm system already.
|Olbrychowski gets overlooked in the Yankees deep crop of pitching but he has a power arm. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Ryan Pope: Like Olbrychowski, Pope saw his normal velocity range dip down in his professional debut season. Sitting mostly 90-93 MPH in college, he was averaging anywhere from 88-92 MPH with the Staten Island Yankees last year. Like Heredia though, the impeccable command of his fastball plays better than some of the harder fastballs in the farm system.
Angel Reyes: A lefty who can sit 92-93 MPH is quite special. While that was his range back in 2006, back problems and inconsistent mechanics saw Reyes' velocity dip down to 88-91 MPH last season. His command was spotty at best as well. If he can rediscover the power and command he had in 2006, he definitely has one of the Top Ten fastballs in the farm system. We just have to wait and see which Reyes shows up in '08.
Arodys Vizcaino: The 17-year old already averages 88-92 MPH with his fastball and tops out between 93-94 MPH! His mechanics are very polished and he is naturally strong. With the type of body that should only get stronger as he gets older, he is well on his way to boasting a truly special fastball sometime soon.
Top Ten Fastballs For Starting Pitchers
10) Zach McAllister - The 6-foot-5 Illinois native is a physically imposing figure on the mound and he attacks batters with a combination of sinking two-seamers and power four-seamers. He also has great command of his 90-93 MPH fastball. Just getting comfortable with his release points however, there's a good chance he could develop some more power as he matures, which is a scary prospect for opposing batters.
9) Steven White - For whatever reason, White's above average fastball continues to get overlooked by many. Sitting consistently 90-94 MPH with his four-seam fastball, and hitting 95-96 MPH at times, he also has a very good two-seam fastball at his disposal. A possible bullpen option, the possibility exists he could rank it up a notch or two if he was used in a one-inning capacity.
|McCutchen, despite being able to hit 96 MPH, is described as having "average" stuff by his critics. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Jeff Marquez - Like McCutchen, Marquez gets overshadowed by some of the better four-seam fastball pitchers but few can match his nasty sinking two-seamer. Consistently able to hit 93-94 MPH with his sinker, and able to range it anywhere from 88-94 to change up the speed, he can also hit 95 MPH with his four-seamer when need be.
6) George Kontos - Averaging just 88-92 MPH with his fastball in his debut season back in 2006, Kontos saw his velocity spike up to his college days when he ranged anywhere from 91-95 MPH with his fastball in the Florida State League last season. He also has a solid two-seamer in his back pocket that he'll mix in and people should start noticing his power arm more in Double-A in 2008.
|Horne throws harder than some media outlets realize. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Alan Horne - Despite the conflicting reports from some other media outlets, Horne has a power arm. He consistently sits 92-94 MPH with his four-seam fastball and can reach the 95-96 MPH at times. He also has a very good two-seam fastball that can range from 90-94 MPH and he has very good command of both sets of fastballs. He is also a good candidate to dial it up a tick or two should he ever get moved to the bullpen.
3) Humberto Sanchez: Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, the former Detroit farmhand has a very special arm. He consistently sits 92-96 MPH with his fastball and he keeps hitters off-balance by mixing an equal share of very good two-seamers that average 88-92 MPH with good running action. His fastball combination is among the best in the minor leagues.
2) Christian Garcia: Garcia, also rehabbing his way back from Tommy John surgery, has a special fastball as well. Comfortably sitting 92-95 MPH with such an ease of motion in his delivery, and able to top out around 97 MPH, there could even be some hidden power in his game when he returns to game action. He'll need to start proving it more on the mound when he returns to stay in the elite company, but the raw talent is definitely there.
1) Dellin Betances: Inconsistent release points and mechanics led to a "down year" velocity-wise last season. When he's going right, he consistently averages 94-96 MPH and has hit 98 MPH a few times already in his young career, but he managed to average only 92-94 MPH a year ago. His floor is better than most pitcher's ceilings in regards to the fastball - that's just how rare an arm he has.