There’s nothing better than watching a pitcher challenge a hitter with a really good fastball. It’s just something about the two going head-to-head, with the pitcher bringing everything he has with his hardest fastball.
The Pirates have no shortage of prospects in the system who can really ramp up the fastball, and are no stranger to racking up the strikeouts with the pitch.
Today, let’s look at the three best fastballs in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.
Jones didn’t lead the system in strikeouts by mistake, as his upper-90s fastball was unhittable at times. The 2020 second round pick touched triple digits during Spring Training, and gave batters fits throughout the year in High-A Greensboro for the Grasshoppers.
There may be no better example of Jones executing his fastball at his best than the first inning of the season he pitched. Jones strikes out the side, primarily using the fastball.
There’s an argument to be made, one that Baseball America agrees with, that Chandler has the best fastball in the entire system. Chandler had one of the best strikeout, and swing and miss rates in the Pirates’ system last year, largely due to the fastball.
The two-way prospect can easily hit the upper-90s, and can get plenty of break on it along with a high spin rate. In his Bradenton debut, Chandler was able to generate 10 swings and misses on 19 total swings on the fastballs.
In what was one of the biggest jumps in development this past season, Ortiz went from Bradenton in 2021 all the way to the majors this past season. A jump in velocity on his fastball helped pave the way for the system leader in innings pitched, striking out 138 total batters.
His 98.4 mph average velocity on his fastball in the majors would have been the 10th in the majors had he qualified.
One of the biggest things fueling the hype around him late in the season was the comparisons he got from Baseball Savant, based off of pitch velocity and movement – Sandy Alcantara, Hunter Greene, Luis Castillo, Gerrit Cole, and Jordan Hicks.
Not bad company to keep.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Ethan Hullihen looks at the changes to the qualifiers in order to receive Competitive Balance Tax.
**Jesus Castillo had another multi-hit game, highlighted in John Dreker’s latest Pirates winter league update.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the rotation signings creating competition for playing time.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
In his latest Pirates Business update, Ethan Hullihen explores what happens with the Competitive Balance Tax income.
I’ll have my latest First Pitch on Monday at noon.