Image credit: Ricky Tiedemann (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
The culmination of a season’s worth of work comes down to today, as we dive into a look at the best pitch mixes among the Top 100 Prospects.
These pitchers have all been featured—sometimes multiple times—in the best pitches in the Top 100 series.
Today we’ll focus less on each pitcher’s individual pitches and more on the total mix and how their arsenal dovetails. While there is a heavy stuff bias regarding these choices, there’s a reason for that. The ability to command three above-average or better pitches gives you a far greater chance at major league success, as opposed to having just two pitches—Spencer Strider, notwithstanding. We’ll identify each pitcher’s three best pitches and discuss them at length.
Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers
Strikeout Rate: 30.9%. Three Best Pitches: Four-Seam Fastball, Slider and Changeup.
No Top 100 prospect brings the sheer power that Miller does. Miller’s entire pitch mix boasts premium velocity almost across the board. His four-seam fastball is the hardest inside the Top 100, sitting on average at 98 mph with a peak velocity of just under 102 mph. While his fastball stands out due to its velocity, his primary secondaries do a majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to missing bats. Miller’s slider earned inclusion on the best sliders article, and for good reason. The premium velocity combined with heavy sweep makes Miller’s slider unique as it generates a high rate of whiffs and chases while limiting damage upon contact. That said, Miller’s most effective pitch might be his changeup. It has the highest whiff rate in his arsenal and a wOBA under .200 from opposing batters. His command of the pitch is inconsistent, which kept it off the best changeups list, but few changeups are as potent as Miller’s. With a curveball, cutter and two-seamer that all have above-average grades, Miller’s pitch mix stands alone as arguably the best in the minor leagues.
Eury Perez, RHP, Marlins
Strikeout Rate: 34.1%. Three Best Pitches: Four-Seam Fastball, Cutter and Changeup.
Perez ranked sixth on the best fastballs among the Top 100 list and just missed the top five on both his slider and changeup. The prodigious righthanded pitching prospect has elite power across his arsenal and four pitches that could grade out as plus or better. His four-seam fastball pairs upper-90s velocity with strong pitch movement, generating both above-average ride and arm-side run on the pitch. His secondaries are just as strong, with plus offerings in his changeup, slider and cutter. His cutter may be Perez’s best pitch, as he had a 50% whiff rate, a high chase rate and a swing rate above 50%. Perez’s changeup generates heavy whiffs and chases, while limiting contact and damage. It’s the combination of four unique shapes that all tunnel off of a similar release point that allows Perez’s arsenal to stand out even among his Top 100 brethren.
D.L. Hall, LHP, Orioles
Strikeout Rate: 36.6%. Three Best Pitches: Four-Seam Fastball, Slider and Changeup.
Hall was featured in three of the four best pitches in the Top 100 articles, and frankly could have been included in all four. Hall’s combination of power and movement from the left side is rare, even among all-star lefthanded pitchers at the big league level. Hall boasts four pitches that grade out as above-average or better on stuff models, rare even among Top 100 prospects. Hall’s four-seam fastball generates whiffs at a rate higher than 30%, with a pair of secondaries in his slider and changeup that generate whiffs near a 50% rate. Batters particularly struggled with Hall’s changeup as his wOBA was under .200. With four pitches with above-average whiffs rates from the left side, few pitchers pose a more uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters. Hall has power and movement across his entire mix. While command is the one element evading Hall, even average strike-throwing ability would allow him to take a step forward and potentially project as a front-of-the-rotation arm with fellow Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez.
Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Strikeout Rate: 36.6%. Three Best Pitches: Four-Seam Fastball, Changeup and Slider.
It’s impossible to know how much Rodriguez was impacted by injury in 2022 before shutting it down for a good chunk of the season. Prior to going down it was clear that Rodriguez’s stuff—particularly his fastball—was down slightly from its 2021 metrics. His velocity dropped some but it wasn’t enough to do opposing batters any favors. Rodriguez still generated whiffs against his fastball at a rate higher than 30% while facing the best competition the minors has to offer in Triple-A. While Rodriguez’s fastball is his primary pitch and arguably his best, his changeup ranked second on the best changeups list. There’s good reason for that as well. Not only does Rodriguez generate whiffs against his changeup at a near-50% rate, he induced a high rate of swings in and out of the zone. It’s the inability of hitters to lay off of Rodriguez’s offspeed that makes it so unique. While Rodriguez’s slider didn’t miss bats at the rate of his changeup, it was by far his best performing pitch, with a wOBA below .200. With additional strong offerings in his curveball and cutter, Rodriguez might boast the most potent combination of above-average pitches and command of any Top 100 pitcher.
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays
Strikeout Rate: 38.9%. Three Best Pitches: Four-Seam Fastball, Slider and Changeup.
No pitcher burst onto the scene quite like Tiedemann did in 2022. His impressive debut saw Tiedemann rise to Double-A by late July after dominating both levels of Class A. A Top 100 draft prospect in 2020 and 2021, Tiedemann was well known throughout the industry, but his substantial jump in fastball velocity early in his pro debut pushed his prospect status into hyper speed. Tiedemann’s unique low lefthanded slot, power and pitch shapes are more than most minor league hitters can handle. His fastball sits mid 90s with exceptional arm-side run. The pitch looks to sweep as it comes out of his hand before it downshifts off the plate to righthanded hitters and inside to lefties. He then plays his sweepy slider off this pitch, showing a consistent ability to back door the pitch to righthanders and work inside in left-on-left matchups. To further complicate matters, Tiedemann’s best pitch might be his changeup. While it misses fewer bats than his slider or fastball, it does continually keep batters off balance while generating ground balls at a rate higher than 50%. Tiedemann’s powerful arsenal full of unique looks keeps opposing hitters uncomfortable in the batter’s box.