“Throw him the cheese! Throw him the high, stinky Limburger!”
That’s Henry Rowengartner’s line from Rookie of the Year. Of course, pitching is more of an art than simply throwing hard. But sometimes – and especially in an age where we’re seeing more velo than ever – sometimes it’s just aesthetically pleasing to see a hurler who can dominate with ole numero uno.
With that in mind, these are the best fastballs from each of the 30 farm systems:
Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 7)
Rodriguez can make a case for being baseball’s best pitching prospect, in part because he commands a mid-90s fastball than can reach triple digits and features late life. The 11th overall pick in the 2018 Draft as a Texas high schooler, he logged a 2.20 ERA, .178 opponent average and a 97/21 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 Triple-A innings, though he also missed time with a lat strain.
Red Sox: Luis Perales, RHP (No. 13)
Perales hit 95 mph with his heater a month after signing for $75,000 out of Venezuela in 2019, and he currently operates in the mid-90s and tops out at 99 with riding action up in the zone. He impressed in his U.S. debut, fashioning a 1.77 ERA, .163 opponent average and 50 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings between Rookie ball and Single-A.
Yankees: Luis Gil, RHP (No. 16)
Acquired from the Twins in a March 2018 trade for Jake Cave, Gil didn’t allow a run in his first three big league starts in August 2021 but struggled afterward before having Tommy John surgery last May. When he was fully healthy, his fastball stood out not only for its velocity (averaging 96 mph, reaching 100) but also its high spin rates and carry and the extension in his delivery that allowed it to get on hitters quickly.
Rays: Taj Bradley, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 20)
Bradley certainly has the heat with a 94-96 mph fastball, and he’s touched as high as 98.1 mph (via Statcast) already this spring, proving that his velo bump over the last two seasons is here to stay. But the 21-year-old right-hander doesn’t just stand out through the radar gun. Using an athletic delivery, Tampa Bay’s top prospect shows impressive fastball command and can typically spot the ball where he wants to all quadrants of the zone, cementing his chances to be at least a mid-rotaton starter.
Blue Jays: Yosver Zulueta, RHP (No. 3)
The gas has always been there for the 25-year-old right-hander, and we finally got to see it on Minor League fields last season after Zulueta dealt with Tommy John and a torn ACL…
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