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BA: We haven’t heard 104 for Guzman, but we have heard 100-101 for him and Kopech famously touched 105 mph on the team’s radar gun, although scouts who were at the game say he topped out at 100-101 on their guns. He’s been reported to have touched 103 in other outings. He’s been “limited” to 101.5 in the Arizona Fall League. Both do rank among the minors’ hardest throwers, a group that also has to include Mariners’ righthander Thyago Vieira (up to 104 mph in the Arizona Fall League).
The velocity in the game gets crazier year after year. At the big league level, the average big league fastball has jumped from 89.0 mph in 2002 to 92.3 mph in 2015 (according to Baseball Information Solutions as listed at Fangraphs.com). These velocity gains are seen across the board. Sliders have jumped from 80 to 84 mph over the same time frame and so have changeups.
And the velocity gains have been steady. Fastball velocity has either stayed the same or improved in 14 of the past 15 seasons. The only exception was a .2 mph dip from 2006 to 2007. Year to year, fastball velocity is increasing at roughly .2 mph per year. Starters have seen their velocity increase by 3.3 mph over those 15 seasons. Relievers have seen a 3.1 mph jump. So far, have been no signs that this steady increase is slowing.
This year two pitchers (Aroldis Chapman and Mauricio Cabrera) averaged 100 mph with their fastballs. Before this season, only one pitcher (Chapman in 2014) had done once during the 15 years BIS has collected velocity data or the 10 years of the Pitch/FX era.
If you’re asking why this increase is happening, I’d largely put it on improved physical training. Long-tossing, throwing with weighted balls and improved techniques for strengthening shoulders have both reduced shoulder injuries and increased velocity almost across the board.
More velocity is on the way. Marlins’ 2014 first-round pick Tyler Kolek became only the second high school draftee to consistently hit 100 mph while still in high school. Rockies’ 2016 first-round pick Riley Pint went a little further, touching 102 mph while still in high school. Next year’s draft class includes multiple pitchers who have touched 98-99 mph during the summer showcase circuit who may reach 100 mph next spring.
This year, 31 big league pitchers touched 100 mph (according to Pitch/FX data). In the minors, the numbers were even larger. This is not by any means a complete list and it surely will grow over the next few weeks as we continue to report for our prospect lists, but here are 71 (updated on Nov. 17) minor leaguers who touched 100 mph this year according to scouts, front office officials or available Pitch/FX data. The last time we did this in 2014, we tracked 52 minor leaguers who had thrown 100-plus that season.
We’ll keep adding to this as we continue to get reliable data on members of the century club. Have someone to add? Tweet it to me @jjcoop36, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it to me on Facebook.
|Gerson Bautista||Red Sox||100|
|Michael Kopech||Red Sox||103|
|Josh Pennington||Red Sox||100|
|Zack Burdi||White Sox||102|
UPDATED Nov. 17: Added Twins RHP Yorman Landa.
UPDATED Nov. 10: Added Marlins RHP Tyler Kinley.
UPDATED Nov. 3: Added Giants RHPs Reyes Moronta and Jeff Soptic, Diamondbacks RHP Drew Muren, Mets RHP Chris Viall and Red Sox RHP Josh Pennington.
UPDATED Nov. 2: Added Yankees RHP Domingo German, Nationals RHP Koda Glover and Pirates LHP Taylor Hearn. Bumped Montas’ top velocity to 102.
UPDATED Nov. 1: Added Marlins RHPs Tyler Kolek (100-101 in spring training before Tommy John surgery) and Tayron Guerrero and Indians RHP Casey Weathers to the list.