Alan Horne: Horne's primary breaking pitch is his plus curveball and he complements it with a slider that is actually more like a cut-fastball. He has hit as high as 90 MPH with his slider/cutter so it can be a very effective pitch, but it's also the pitch he has trouble making in-game adjustments to and he doesn't have the consistent command of it to make it the legit plus pitch it can be.
Zach McAllister: 'Big Mac' has one of the more reliable sliders in the organization from a command standpoint, but it doesn't get some of the better late-break to it in comparison to others. It's a solid big league pitch but it isn't the great strikeout pitch he would like just yet. He needs to get a bit more movement with it for that to happen.
Francisco Rondon: The Dominican southpaw doesn't have a true slider. It's more of a slurvy breaking pitch right now, one that has a little curveball action and some slider movement to it as well. The pitch itself leans more towards a slider, however, and it is a pitch that he uses as his primary strikeout weapon. It's a pitch worth keeping an eye on.
Pat Venditte: What makes Venditte so much fun to watch - aside from the fact that he's the only switch-pitcher in baseball right now - is the slider he throws from the left side. It is a true frisbee-like slider that can make left-handed batters look foolish at the plate when they're swinging at them two feet out of the zone. Whether or not he'll be able to make that into a swing-and-miss, inside-the-zone pitch [something he'll need to do at the higher levels] remains to be seen, but it is fun.
Kevin Whelan: The right-hander is more known for his fastball-splitter combination than his slider, but he does have a quality slider at his disposal that isn't too far off from becoming a legitimate plus pitch. He uses it more as a get-me-over strike pitch right now, but he can use it from time to time for the strikeout pitch too. Getting more confident with it and using it in more critical situations could get him into the Top Ten here.
Top Ten Sliders
10) Steven Jackson: Like Whelan, Jackson relies heavily on his plus splitter as his main strikeout weapon. Unlike Whelan, however, he has developed his slider into a reliable strikeout weapon and a pitch he can command quite consistently. He doesn't get the awesome breaking action with it some of the other pitchers get with theirs, but it has come a long way.
9) Wilkins De La Rosa: Considering he hasn't been pitching for long after coming off of his first full-season on the mound, De La Rosa's slider is pretty special. He throws it in the 85-87 MPH range, but his command of it and the breaking action he gets with it are both inconsistent. It can be a legit plus big league strikeout pitch at times, so much so he could shoot up these rankings in a hurry, but he needs to show more consistency with it.
|SLIDING UP: Patterson could move quickly now that he can focus on his slider more. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Garrett Patterson - Like Duff, Patterson had worked hard on honing his mechanics and on his curveball until the Yankees had him scrap that in favor of his slider once he was shifted to the bullpen. He gets great late-biting action with his slider and it is a legitimate plus big league strikeout pitch, but he could stand to show more consistent command with it. If that happens he'll move quickly.
6) Josh Schmidt - Schmidt has a more polished, right-handed version of Venditte's frisbee-like slider. The good news is he has learned to throw it as an inside-the-zone, swing-and-miss pitch too and he has become extremely effective against right-handed batters. In fact, while his slower fastball will keep him out of Top 50 prospects discussions, his special slider could allow him to become a big league right-handed specialist down the road.
|A BIG KEY: The development of Hacker's plus slider has him on the 40-man roster. (Photo: Kenny Barto/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Eric Hacker: Hacker seemingly rose out of the proverbial ashes to grab a 40-man roster spot this offseason. While staying healthy was a big reason why, so was the development of ho-hum, get-me-over slider into a big-time strikeout pitch that he can use against both right-handed and left-handed batters. His plus slider is also a big reason why some insiders still see his future role with the Yankees as a reliever.
3) Anthony Claggett: Like Whelan and Jackson, two other farmhands who began their careers in other organizations, Claggett spent his initial time in Pinstripes smoothing out his mechanics and developing his changeup. Once he was allowed to move back into the bullpen, his big-time slider was allowed to be showcased. He gets great late-biting action with it and he can command it at will, and it has him on the doorstep of helping out the big league bullpen.
2) Mike Dunn - Even when Dunn - a converted outfielder - was in the starting role and spending the majority of his time honing his changeup, he still had one of those special sliders. Now a full-time reliever, he has been able to use mostly his fastball-slider combination and the shorter stints have him allowed him to throw both pitches harder. Even with just one regular season Double-A appearance under his belt, Dunn isn't that far off from the big leagues and his slider is the main reason why.
1) George Kontos: Kontos has become more of a four-pitch hurler over the last year by making marked improvements to his curveball and changeup, but that shouldn't disguise the fact his slider is still the best in the Yankees farm system. He throws it in the 83-86 MPH range and his combination of hard-biting action and great command of it conjures up images of Joba Chamberlain's slider. Like Chamberlain, even though starting seems like a more realistic option now, Kontos' slider could make him a solid big league setup man down the road.