Sunday, March 3, 2013

Yakkers: Examining the best sliders in the Dodgers' farm system

The slider is associated with power. Most times, it's a power pitch thrown by a power pitcher. There are few exceptions to this rule.

Clayton Kershaw came up as a fastball-curveball-changeup pitcher. Some, in the back of their mind, wondered if the three-pitch repertoire would work. Well, Kershaw added a slider to his arsenal, and he took off.

Not surprisingly, pitchers who throw sliders tend to rack up the strikeouts. The Dodgers traded a couple of pitchers last year who would have qualified for this list: Logan Bawcom and Ethan Martin. Both have at least average sliders, while Martin's can be an above-average pitch at times.

Previous entries in this series


Matt Magill
- Magill's slider is quickly becoming one of the best in the system. He's racked up an 8.9 strikeouts per nin innings in his minor league career thanks in part to a knockout slider. It profiles as an average pitch right now, but it could easily be an above-average offering going forward. It sits in the low-80s.

Aaron Miller
- Miller gets an obligatory mention here as average or better sliders among Dodger starting pitching prospects are few and far between. Miller broke in as a fastball/slider guy, which could ultimately mean he's destined for the bullpen. His slider is a 79-82 MPH pitch and could be a solid weapon out of the 'pen.

Chris Reed
- I tabbed Reed as having the best slider in the system, just a tick better than Magill's. Reed complements his low-90s fastball with a hard mid-80s slider that is especially effective against left-handed hitters. Like Miller, Reed could end up in the bullpen where his slider would play up.


Steve Ames
- Ames might be an exception to the slider rule. He doesn't overpower hitters with his 90-93 MPH fastball, thus he doesn't overpower them with his low-80s slider. But it has enough bite to it that it keeps hitters off-balance. Ames has a career 12.3 K/9, and it isn't because he's throwing 95-plus MPH.

Yimi Garcia
- Garcia's slider has helped him immensely since graduating from the two lowest levels of the minor leagues in 2011. Before that, he had a pedestrian 7.7 K/9. Since then, he's been a strikeout machine, averaging 13.1 strikeouts per nine -- thanks in large part to his low-to-mid-80s slider. He looks to be a classic fastball-slider strikeout pitcher going forward, if he can command his pitches well enough.

Paco Rodriguez
- Rodriguez is one of only two pitchers on this list (Wall) to show off his slider at the Major League level. It helped him be the Dodgers' second-round draft pick in last year's draft. It's effective against lefties and righties and sits in the low-80s with good bite.

Josh Wall
- Wall pairs his mid-to-upper-90s fastball with a mid-80s slider that, when it's on, is a tough pitch to square up. Wall dealt with the rarefied air in Albuquerque last year, but still posted the second-best strikeout rate of his career (8.7). He's a longshot to make the Dodgers' bullpen out of Spring Training, but he'd likely be among the first recalled when the Dodgers need a power reliever.

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