Prospect Scouting & Stats — Pitcher FB – Present

Let’s talk about the best prospect fastballs! These are the 9 pitchers with at least a 70 grade FB – Present (FBP) and 50 or higher FV grade for those with a 70 grade FBP.

Top 12 Prospect Fastballs
Name Org Age Top 100 Org Rk FV FB – Present Sits – Low Sits – High Tops
Nate Pearson TOR 23.7 8 1 60 80 95 100 102
James Karinchak CLE 24.6 115 0 50 80 96 98 99
Andres Munoz SDP 21.3 18 40+ 80 97 100 103
Melvin Adon SFG 25.5 15 40+ 80 96 101 102
Peter Fairbanks TBR 26.3 19 40+ 80 95 98 99
Jesus Luzardo OAK 22.6 6 0 60 70 94 98 99
Brusdar Graterol LAD 21.7 113 0 50 70 96 99 102
Jhoan Duran MIN 22.3 63 4 50 70 95 99 101
Brailyn Marquez CHC 21.2 114 0 50 70 93 97 99

Nate Pearson is a top 10 overall prospect in baseball and the Blue Jays top guy. He’s one of just five pitching prospects who scored a perfect 80 grade on his fastball and it’s obvious why. According to our data, he sits between 95 and 100 MPH with the pitch and can max out at an astounding 102 MPH. However, even with that elite velocity, his strikeout rates haven’t been as impressive as you would expect. In the largest sample at any one level, he posted a 28.3% strikeout rate at Double-A in 2019, which is strong, but nowhere near elite. Furthermore, his SwStk% was only marginally better than the league average. Then in his 18 innings at Triple-A, his strikeout rate plummeted to just 21.7%, while his SwStk% fell below 10%, which is actually below average. For a prospect with such a supposedly amazing fastball and solid enough secondary pitches according to his grades, I’m baffled why his strikeout rate isn’t much higher. I’m willing to give him some time to translate his stuff into strikeouts, but he might be overhyped right now and could make a good guy to trade away in a keeper league while his price is still high.

Are James Karinchak’s numbers a typo? Or did he really post a 59.2% strikeout rate in his 30.1 minor league innings in 2019? He made it up to the Majors for a cup of coffee and ended up throwing 94 pitches over 5.1 innings. Sure enough, his 80 grade fastball sat between 95 and 98 MPH and generating an elite 15.1% SwStk%. He paired it with a curve ball he threw more than 40% and generated a 17.1% SwStk% itself, which is excellent, though not quite elite. With some high walk rates in the minors, control will be the key here.

Andres Munoz also got his shot in the Majors and is a long-term reliever. He actually averaged 100.2 MPH with his four-seamer, if you believe the Pitch Info velocity (which I’m choosing to do!), and maxed out at an absurd 103 MPH. Oddly, for all that velocity, it failed to break into double digits in SwStk%, but it must be helping his slider, because that generated an insane 28.2% SwStk%. If he could get his walk rate down into single-digits, he could be a future closer.

Melvin Adon is yet another who has suffered control issues in the minors, but after beginning his career as a starter, he was permanently moved into a relief role in 2019. We know pitchers generally see an uptick in strikeout rate of a couple of points upon moving to the bullpen, but Adon’s strikeout rate surged by more than 10 percentage points, so clearly the bullpen is where he should remain. That said, he’s already 25 and seriously struggled with his control while in the bullpen, so he doesn’t seem like a good bet to earn much fantasy value in the future.

Despite owning an 80 grade fastball, Peter Fairbanks actually threw the pitch just about 44% of the time during his MLB debut with the Rays. Instead, he featured his slider, which he threw a crazy 56% of the time. That fastball maxed at 100 MPH, but was actually ho-hum at generating whiffs, posting just a 6.5% SwStk%. The slider was better at 18.4%, but that’s only slightly better than league average, so nothing too exciting. I can’t imagine he throws sliders that often again, so assuming he does throw it less often, he’ll need to improve the effectiveness of both pitches or his strikeout rate is going to come tumbling down.

We have another top 10 overall prospect sighting, this time named Jesus Luzardo, who comes in at sixth overall. Luzardo dazzled during his debut, though remember all his innings came in relief. He maxed out on his four-seamer at about 99 MPH and about 98 MPH with his sinker, and averaged about 97 and 96 MPH, respectively. The four-seamer was quite good, generating an 11.4% SwStk%, but his sinker was terrible at inducing whiffs, sporting just a 2.1% SwStk%. The sinker did induce grounders like it should, but the rate wasn’t high enough to excuse the super low SwStk%. While he features two strong secondary offerings, I think he’ll be overvalued given the same sample debut success, which was boosted by his innings coming in relief.

It was suspenseful, but Brusdar Graterol finally did get traded to the Dodgers, where it will now be interesting to see what role he ultimately ends up in. Over 9.2 innings with the Twins, both his sinker and four-seamer averaged about 99 MPH, while his sinker actually maxed out at 101.7! Was that the fastest sinker ever thrown? While the sinker sported a respectable 7.5% SwStk%, and also induced grounders at an absolutely ridiculous 80% rate, his four-seamer failed to generate a whiff over 17 pitches. We’ll need a much larger sample, of course, but perhaps he should stick with the sinker and completely scrap the four-seamer. A groundballer with major strikeout potential is exciting.

Jhoan Duran is another who could apparently get it up over 100 MPH, but he has been a slow mover in the minors, and his strikeout rate has declined after each promotion while in the Twins organization. That said, his SwStk% actually surged to an elite level at Double-A, even as his strikeout rate fell to a pedestrian level. That’s interesting, as he’s getting the whiffs, but having trouble finishing off batters. Perhaps a lack of secondary stuff to get the punchout? But, his control has been acceptable and he typically induces tons of grounders, so he looks like an exciting fantasy prospect.

Brailyn Marquez is one of the few whose future fastball grade is actually higher (and not the same) as his present fastball grade. And that future grade is actually a perfect 80. At A+, he’s another whose SwStk% exceeded his strikeout rate, leading to questions over his secondary stuff.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Uncle Spike
Uncle Spike

With the White Sox list coming out today, I couldn’t help but notice Kopech was omitted. I would be curious to get your take on him as well.