Jeremy Bleich: Bleich mostly sits 90-92 mph with his fastball and he hit 94 mph more than a few times last year, giving him a borderline plus fastball for a left-hander. The velocity has been a tad bit inconsistent thus far, but make no mistake, his fastball is very, very good.
Caleb Cotham: He reportedly has the fastball velocity to be a legitimate Top Ten guy in this category. The word is he sits 92-95 mph with his heater but he has only had a handful of professional innings thus far and he had them while nursing himself back from a knee injury. Don't be surprised if he makes a huge leap in these rankings a year from now.
Jairo Heredia: Heredia's velocity is merely average, sitting mostly 89-91 mph, but his impeccable command and movement does make it very effective. He has hit as high as 94 mph before, so there is reason for optimism given his slight build. Coming off of shoulder tendonitis, however, it will be a wait-and-see approach with his fastball for now. It does have the chance to be special if everything falls into place.
George Kontos: Kontos had long-lasting residence in this Top Ten ranking until his normal 92-95 mph fell down to the average range. It turns out that he needed Tommy John surgery and that is most likely the main culprit for the dip, but for now he'll have to fight his way back into the plus velocity range upon his return.
Zach McAllister: On effectiveness alone, McAllister's fastball is Top Ten quality. That's mostly because of his great command, however, and his propensity to pound batters inside. He sits mostly in the 89-93 mph range with his sinker and his control of it is outstanding. He barely misses the Top Ten, but don't underestimate his fastball.
|Mitchell needs to prove his fastball is as good as its reputed to be. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Ivan Nova: The fact that Nova, given his ability to average 91-94 mph consistently with good command can't crack the Top Ten, is a credit to the Yankees' depth of quality arms. He won't crank it much higher than that though, but it is still very effective. The fact that he can maintain his velocity deep into games and deep into the season shouldn't be overlooked either.
Kelvin Perez: Perez is arguably the biggest 'sleeper' on this list because the arm strength is clearly there despite his smaller frame. He comfortably sits 91-94 mph with his fastball and he has even topped out at 97 mph in the past. He is just barely two years out of Tommy John surgery too so there could theoretically be a spike coming down the pike. The fact that he might move to the bullpen though keeps him in the Honorable Mention category for now.
David Phelps: Reports of Phelps topping out in the 94-95 mph range might have some scratching their collective heads about his omission from the Top Ten. However, his normal range is still 89-92 mph. It is a very good fastball though and he deserves consideration as having one of the better ones in the farm system.
Adam Warren: Like Phelps, people remember Warren topped out at 96 mph last year but that's not where he normally resides with his fastball. He too mostly throws two-seamers in the 90-92 mph range and can power up the four-seamer on occasion into the mid-90's. The velocity also came late in his senior season last year and into Staten Island. It remains to be seen if last year's velocity spike was a fluke or not. If it wasn't, he'll move up these rankings for sure.
Top Ten Fastballs For Starting Pitchers
10) Manny Banuelos - Somehow Banuelos continually gets overlooked on the national scene despite consistently averaging 91-92 mph with his fastball. That gives him a borderline plus fastball for lefties and he reportedly hit as high 96 mph in the bullpen late in the season last year. The late, explosive life he gets with his fastball is akin to David Robertson, and like Robertson his fastball is much better than the mere radar gun readings.
9) Wilkins De La Rosa - Like Kelvin Perez, De La Rosa sits comfortably in the 91-94 mph range and has the ability to crank it up to 97 mph on occasion. He's a better pitcher, however, when he's in the low-90's command-wise. He too could become a bullpen option if the secondary pitches don't come around soon, but the fastball is clearly in place.
|Noesi has the best command of an above average fastball. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Brett Marshall - Marshall is probably the exact opposite of Noesi at this point command-wise. He sits mostly 92-95 mph with his fastball and he has reportedly cranked it higher at times, and the movement he gets with his fastball is pretty special. He'll need to learn how to command it better though. If he can do that upon returning from Tommy John surgery, he could lead this list someday. His fastball has that much potential.
6) D.J. Mitchell - Mitchell won't hit the mid-90's with his fastball like some of the other names on this list, but few have his fastball effectiveness. Like Banuelos he averages mostly 91-92 mph, but Mitchell's is a special sinker that gets so much running action that it acts like a breaking ball. His command of it is impeccable too. His fastball, though above average velocity-wise, is a true plus pitch.
|Garcia just needs to build up his arm strength again. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Dellin Betances - There are two constants with Betances' fastball - the velocity has fluctuated over the years and it has never fluctuated below a plus pitch. He once sat 94-96 mph, topped out at 98 mph, but now he has been mostly in the 92-94 mph range. The power and movement are in place for it to be a truly dominating pitch, but he'll need to see if he can return to the plus-plus range once he returns from his injury.
3) Jose Ramirez: Ramirez, once showing just an average 88-92 mph when he first signed, was sitting comfortably in the 94-96 mph range by season's end last year. Not only do few pitchers throw that hard, few are able to do that so late in the season. He hasn't yet proved it in the long-season leagues though, but once he does, with his command and movement, his fastball could be considered one of the best around.
2) Graham Stoneburner: Stoneburner hasn't proved any more than Ramirez in the long-season leagues at this point, but the fastball is just as special. He was sitting 93-96 mph with relative ease during Instructs this offseason and showing a great combination of movement and command. He gets just a slight edge over Ramirez at this point simply because he has been pitching a little bit longer.
1) Andrew Brackman: The reports of Brackman throwing only 88-94 mph earlier last season are accurate. However, that doesn't tell the whole story. He was sitting mostly 94-97 mph by season's end, albeit in the bullpen, and the movement he gets on his fastball is the best in the organization. He'll need to prove it again in 2010 [keep in mind this season will only be his second year out from Tommy John surgery], and show better command of it more consistently, but the fastball is as rare as it gets.