Ask BA: Who Are The Minors’ 100 MPH Pitchers?

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Q: Astros’ Jorge Guzman‘s fastball can hit 104. Red Sox’ Michael Kopech FB can hit 105. Can anyone else in MiLB who can match them?


Matt H
Houston

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.

Source: Baseball Info Solutions data at Fangraphs.com
Source: Baseball Info Solutions data at Fangraphs.com

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 jjcooper@baseballamerica.com or send it to me on Facebook.

Player Team Velo
Keynan Middleton Angels 100
Francis Martes Astros 100
Jorge Guzman Astros 103
Bobby Wahl Athletics 100
Frankie Montas Athletics 102
Luis Mora Braves 100
Mauricio Cabrera Braves 102
Alex Reyes Cardinals 101
Ryan Helsley Cardinals 100
Sandy Alcantara Cardinals 100
Dylan Cease Cubs 101
Drew Muren Diamondbacks 100
Julio Perez Diamondbacks 100
Yadier Alvarez Dodgers 101
Jeff Soptic Giants 100
Melvin Adon Giants 100
Ray Black Giants 102
Reyes Moronta Giants 100
Rodolfo Martinez Giants 103
Casey Weathers Indians 100
Aneurys Zabala Mariners 100
Dan Altavilla Mariners 100
Luiz Gohara Mariners 101
Thyago Vieira Mariners 104
Andy Beltre Marlins 100
Bryan Ellington Marlins 100
Jose Adames Marlins 100
Luis Castillo Marlins 101
Tayron Guerrero Marlins 101
Tyler Kinley Marlins 100
Tyler Kolek Marlins 101
Chris Viall Mets 101
Koda Glover Nationals 100
Reynaldo Lopez Nationals 100
Tanner Scott Orioles 100
Andres Munoz Padres 100
Jose Torres Padres 100
Alberto Tirado Phillies 100
Taylor Hearn Pirates 100
Connor Sadzeck Rangers 100
Diego Castillo Rays 101
Jose Alvarado Rays 100
Ryne Stanek Rays 100
Gerson Bautista Red Sox 100
Michael Kopech Red Sox 103
Josh Pennington Red Sox 100
Ariel Hernandez Reds 100
Braulio Ortiz Reds 101
Tony Santillan Reds 101
Julian Fernandez Rockies 103
Salvador Justo Rockies 100
Riley Pint Rockies 102
Andrew Edwards Royals 100
Josh Staumont Royals 102
Adam Ravenelle Tigers 101
Gerson Moreno Tigers 100
Sandy Baez Tigers 100
Wladimir Punto Tigers 100
Fernando Romero Twins 100
Pat Light Twins 100
Yorman Landa Twins 100
Zack Burdi White Sox 102
Anyelo Gomez Yankees 100
Ben Heller Yankees 100
Daris Vargas Yankees 100
Dillon Tate Yankees 100
Domingo Acevedo Yankees 100
Domingo German Yankees 100
Freicer Perez Yankees 100
J.P. Feyereisen Yankees 100
Luis Medina Yankees 100

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.

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