Harold Garce: Normally we don't place prospects in any categories like this until we see them for ourselves, but anytime you are reported to hit 98-99 MPH in your tryouts with virtually no professional experience, exceptions need to be made. While we won't put him in the Top Ten based off hearsay, he does deserve an honorable mention for reaching such velocity marks so early in his career. And even though the Yankees don't designate their pitchers at the lower levels as relievers, considering he is already 22 years old, chances are better than average that is his likely destination.
Charlyn Garcia: Like Garce, Garcia was signed later than most international signings. The 21-year old, despite posting a 5.73 ERA in his first six professional games with DSL Yankees1 last season, has three really good pitches, including a fastball that sits 92-93 MPH. And also like Garce, while the Yankees probably won't label him as a reliever yet, and even though he has enough stuff to be a starter, his advanced age makes that a pretty sure bet eventually.
Steven Jackson: The former Diamondbacks starter had a rough go of it in the Yankees organization last season after coming over in the Randy Johnson trade, posting a 5.87 ERA in Triple-A Scranton. He made the move to the bullpen and immediately began throwing more four-seam fastballs as opposed to his signature sinking two-seamer. He sits 91-93 MPH with his four-seamer now but he is still in the early stages of refining the command of his new fastball.
|A NEW APPROACH: Valdez has gone from a power four-seam pitcher to more of sinker-ball hurler. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Scott Patterson: The numbers the former Independent League pitcher put up in his first season with the Yankees last year were incredible, going 4-2 with a 1.09 ERA and 91 strikeouts in roughly 74 innings for the Trenton Thunder. He doesn't light up the radar gun, however, sitting mostly 89-92 MPH with his fastball but lives with his good location. He might not have one of the better power arms but his fastball can be nearly as effective.
Jose Valdez: Once a power arm in his younger days and hitting 95-96 routinely with his four-seam fastball, Valdez has reinvented himself by now throwing mostly two-seam fastballs in the 91-92 range and becoming more of a split-finger pitcher. He posted a 2.87 ERA in Tampa last season, and despite not throwing as hard as he once did, he should not be forgotten.
Top Ten Fastballs For Relief Pitchers
10) Wilkins Arias: Even though he is rapidly becoming the elder statesman of the farm system, the soon-to-be 28-year old has a very, very good fastball, especially for a lefty. He routinely sits 91-93 MPH with his heater and can dial it up to 95 MPH at times. He posted just a 4.59 ERA with the Tampa Yankees last season, but mostly due to his slower developing secondary pitches.
9) Wilkins De La Rosa: Like Arias, this Wilkins has a lot of power from the left side. Sitting anywhere from 91-95 MPH with his fastball, and even reaching 97 MPH at times, the former outfielder has a special arm. He's still learning how to command his fastball better, however, and his secondary pitches are still developing, but he posted a 2.63 ERA and struck out 32 batters in just 24 innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees in his first year on the mound last season. He has the chance to be something special, mostly because of his great fastball.
|J. Brent Cox doesn't light up the radar guns but his two-seamer ranks among the best. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Jesse Hoover: One of the elite flamethrowers a couple of years ago, Hoover finally made his return to the mound last season after missing the better part of two years with an ailing back. Once able to sit 92-95 MPH and reach 97 MPH pretty consistently, he was more in the 89-92 MPH range with the Charleston Riverdogs last season. Considering it was his first year back from such a long layoff, and with the nature of his injury, it was a really encouraging sign. If he can rediscover his old velocity, he will shoot right up the rankings.
6) Anthony Claggett: Often overlooked in a pitching-rich farm system stacked with a plethora of power arms, the former Detroit Tigers farmhand is a very solid pitcher. He made the move from the bullpen to starting last season with the Tampa Yankees in the name of development and it paid off. He improved the consistent command of his 90-93 MPH fastball and even developed a good sinking two-seamer as well. Even though he started a year ago, most people, including Claggett himself, see his future still in the bullpen.
|JUST CALL HIM SNEAKY: Robertson won't hit 96 MPH on the gun like he reportedly did in college but his fastball sure looks that fast with the action he gets. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) David Robertson: Sit behind the plate while watching him pitch and you'll swear the radar gun is broken. Throwing a sneaky-fast 89-93 MPH fastball, the natural cutting action he gets with it gives his fastball late-explosive life and great movement, giving it the appearance it is bearing down on batters much quicker. Refining his mechanics improved his command and the complete package is fun to watch.
3) Garrett Patterson: Sitting 92-95 MPH consistently with his fastball and able to hit 97 MPH, the southpaw was unable to keep his command consistent from inning to inning as a starting pitcher. He made the move to the bullpen late last season and looked like a big leaguer during his time in the Instructional League this offseason. Most scouts believe he'll move quickly now that he's made the permanent move to the bullpen, thanks in large part to his plus fastball with late life.
2) Kevin Whelan: Making a ton of changes to his game in 2007, including having to move to the rotation for a period of time to get all of his work in, saw his mid-90's fastball dip down to the 91-93 MPH range for a spell last year. He did show signs of the 93-95 MPH fastball, which can top out around 97 MPH, and his power fastball is quite special. He has look of a future setup an or possible closer once he refines his secondary pitches.
1) Mark Melancon: Making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and back pitching in games, Melancon's incredible sinking two-seam fastball is among the best. He won't hit the 100 MPH plateau as some other elite relievers will - although he can hit 96 MPH with his four-seamer - but the running action he gets with his 92-94 MPH sinker is flat-out nasty and can be just as effective. While most two-seamers are built to induce contact, Melancon's is a true strikeout pitch.