Monday, February 18, 2013

Flamethrowers: Examining the best fastballs in the Dodgers' farm system

Sticking with the power theme, I'm going to look at the best fastballs in the in the Dodgers' farm system. I'll separate the starters and relievers.

The Dodgers have a lot of power arms in the system -- something every team should want. It remains to be seen if these guys, especially the starters, make it to the majors in some capacity. One thing's for sure: arm talent cannot be taught. Every pitcher on this list has arm talent that needs to be harnessed and controlled.

Starters

Scott Barlow
- When Barlow was drafted, he wasn't much of a flamethrower. He checked in at 89-91 MPH on his fastball with a projectable frame. In the Instructional League that year, he was sitting in the low-90s consistently and even touched the mid-90s. As a starter, that qualifies as a plus fastball. The only thing when placing Barlow on this list is he's thrown just 1 2/3 innings since turning pro.

Onelki Garcia
- Garcia has one of the more interesting fastballs in the system. He's heater has natural arm-side run and he can also sink it. But when he has to, he can pump his four-seamer up to 95 MPH. It sits in the 90-93 range and he can control it pretty well.



Jarret Martin

- Martin's fastball is a lot like Garcia's, but he doesn't control or sink it as well. Like most left-handers, there is some arm-side run with his fastball. Martin's biggest determent is his inability to control his fastball. The velocity is there, but the command and control aren't. For now, he's a starter. If he can't make it as a starter, his fastball could get a 1-2 MPH bump, making it that much better.



Chris Reed
- Reed isn't one of my favorites, but his fastball is a legitimate pitch. Like Garcia and Martin before him, he can run it up to 95 MPH from the left side but works better in the low-90s. His biggest obstacle is going to be keeping his velocity up as a starter. As a reliever, he'd have little issue hitting the low-to-mid-90s consistently. As a starter, if he can work at 90-93 MPH, he should be golden.



Relievers


Pedro Baez
- A recent addition to the pitching staff, Baez was once clocked at 94 MPH across the diamond (from third to first). That's an impressive feat unto itself. Dodger minor-league pitching instructors are going to have their work cut out for them. They'll need to harness Baez's undeniable arm talent if they expect him to be a valuable reliever at any point.

Jose Dominguez
- Dominguez has the best fastball in the system that sits in the high-90s and regularly touches triple digits. He has a little trouble controlling the pitch, but the velocity cannot be denied. There was some buzz he could be popped in the Rule 5 Draft in December, mostly due to his great fastball.

Eric Eadington
- Eadington routinely works in the low-90s from the left side and even touched 95 MPH a couple times when I saw him in person in June. There isn't much else he does with it, but a consistent low-to-mid-90s fastball from a southpaw qualifies as a plus pitch.

Scott Griggs
- Griggs profiles as a power reliever out of the bullpen and boasts a consistent mid-90s fastball. He even runs it up to 98 MPH when needed. Control is a big issue for Griggs going forward as he walked 21 batters in his first 22 2/3 innings.


Juan Rodriguez
- Rodriguez is similar to Dominguez with his fastball, as it sits in the mid-to-high-90s and touches 100 MPH on occasion. But unlike Dominguez, Rodriguez has even more trouble controlling the pitch. He walked 41 batters in 38 1/3 last season. He can strike batters out, but that won't matter if he walks hitters at an historic rate.


Josh Wall
- Wall is the most accomplished of the relievers on this list, as he made his Major League debut last season while spending the rest of his time with the Isotopes. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he can reach back for a little more if he needs it.


Chris Withrow
- Withrow routinely hit the low-to-mid-90s as a starting pitcher. Now, he profiles as a late-inning, power reliever out of the bullpen who can dial up his heater to the upper-90s. Like some of the other flamethrowers on this list, Withrow has trouble commanding the pitch, leading to an uncertain future. But his velocity isn't going anywhere.

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