Brandon Braboy: Late to pitching, Braboy has done an admirable job developing a non-existent breaking pitch into a slider with plus potential. He gets good breaking action on it when he throws it over the top, but often times he'll throw it from the side and that affects his control. Consistency is the one missing ingredient right now in what otherwise is a very good pitch.
Noel Castillo: Like most of the 'Honorable Mentions' here, Castillo's biggest problem is his overall lack of consistency with his slider. He throws so hard that a lot of times not only is his command off but so is his break and that can force him into becoming a two-pitch hurler most nights. If he can get a consistent slider going, he really could turn some heads.
Wilkins De La Rosa: Like Braboy, 'WDLR' can snap some amazing looking sliders that observers would swear is a plus pitch but that is more the exception, not the rule. There are games where it's completely on and a big-time strikeout pitch and there are other nights where he can't find it at all. He too needs to find consistency with his slider.
Alan Horne: Horne has a complete breaking ball arsenal when he's healthy and going right, including a very good slider that acts more like a cut fastball. He used to be able to get it to the 90 mph plateau but his shoulder rehab hasn't allowed him to hit such levels in recent years. The command of his slider/cutter is also a bit inconsistent, but it's a good pitch overall.
Zach McAllister: Unlike the aforementioned names, Mac's slider is pretty consistent; the command of it is always there and the lack of plus break remains a constant. While it's not the strikeout pitch he and the Yankees would like, he does get some props for being able to throw it to location.
Pat Venditte: Venditte is truly a fun pitcher to watch, not only because he's the only switch-pitcher in professional baseball but because his frisbee-like slider from the left side can make opposing batters look foolish when they're flailing away at it outside of the zone. He showed some signs of it being a true swing-and-miss, inside-the-zone pitch in Charleston, but not as much in Tampa. Doing more of that would make him more legit.
Top Ten Sliders
10) Kevin Whelan: Whelan is known more his plus splitter-plus fastball combination than his slider, but his breaking ball has come a long way since joining the Yankees. Just like his fastball though, his slider command can be hit or miss but the excellent movement is very much present. It's a really good strikeout pitch when he's committed to throwing it.
9) Adam Warren: Last year's fourth round pick has about as solid a four-pitch repertoire as there is in the farm system and that allows most of his individual pitches to be a tad bit overlooked, including his slider. Like Whelan, the command of his slider is inconsistent some nights but the break on it is very good. His slider is one of the reasons some team insiders believe he'll move fast.
|REPUTATION PRECEDES HIM: Cotham hasn't proven it yet in the professional ranks, but scouts love his slider already. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) Caleb Cotham: Cotham's reported plus slider, a pitch he feels comfortable throwing with command and in any situation, is a pitch that not enough people inside the organization has seen to date. The word in the scouting community though is that it not only sits 84-87 mph and is a big-time strikeout pitch, but it's one of the main reasons he has been tabbed as a potential Joba Chamberlain type. His slider could lead these rankings someday if those reports are true.
6) Manny Barreda: Barreda had developed a plus slider right before requiring Tommy John surgery and he quickly demonstrated its wicked movement upon his return. Like most Tommy John recipients, however, he wasn't able to throw it until later in his rehab and that affected his consistent command of it. We're expecting a full return command-wise in due time. For now, his great breaking action makes it one of the better offerings anyway.
5) Josh Schmidt - Schmidt isn't one of the better prospects overall but that's mostly because his fastball velocity is below average. The fact is he throws one of the more devastating sliders and, quite frankly, it's arguably the only reason he continues to get his chances with the Yankees. It's a frisbee-like slider that allows him to dominate right-handed batters [he held opposing righties to a .188 average in Trenton last year] and it might be special enough for him to get a big league shot.
|COMPLETE PACKAGE: With command and break, Phelps' slider is one of the best overall offerings. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/PinstripesPlus.com)|
3) Graham Stoneburner: One of the reasons why Stoneburner has immediately turned some heads, aside from throwing a 93-96 mph fastball, is the plus command he has already shown of a 79-82 mph slider with great break. It is a legit inside-the-zone, swing-and-miss pitch in the early going and it's one of the reasons some scouts believe that he'll move quickly through the minor leagues.
2) Francisco Rondon - Not a top prospect yet, Rondon is a name you need to know and it's because of his great slider. His fastball command is seriously lacking right now and that keeps him on the fringe overall, but his hard slider in the 83-85 mph range is a big-time strikeout weapon and it's effective against both lefties and righties. His slider should take him very far in the game.
1) George Kontos: Kontos' slider has reigned as the top offering for a couple of years now. While the emergence of Rondon and Stoneburner will make his lead a bit precarious going forward, it is still a consistently reliable plus pitch. He sits 83-86 mph with it, he can command it at will, and he has the confidence to go to in any situation. Think Joba-lite overall and his slider is a big reason why.