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MLB Pitching Prospects Who Could Touch 100 MPH In 2021

Matt Allan Tomdipace
Matt Allan (Photo by Tom DiPace)

In the modern era of baseball, velocity is king. The harder you throw, the more likely you are to keep moving up the ladder, be it as an amateur or a professional. Throwing hard gets you noticed, and throwing even harder gets you signed.

Velocity isn’t a be-all, end-all—you still need to have some idea of where the ball is going—but it’s a great starting point. The best pitching prospect in the game, Marlins righthander Sixto Sanchez, used a four-seamer which averaged 98.5 mph to sizzle in his big league debut in 2020.

White Sox lefthander Garrett Crochet, the team’s first-round pick in 2020, went straight to the big leagues after a tune-up at the team’s alternate training site, then opened everyone’s eyes with a fastball that crackled at an average of 100.1 mph.

Those are the big names, but there are plenty of other power arms lurking at the lower levels or below the radar entirely. With that in mind, here are some of the hardest throwers from 27 teams' instructional league camp this past fall. 


ANGELS


Chris Rodriguez, RHP

Top velocity: 98

Rodriguez already ranks as the Angels’ No. 3 prospect, but injuries in 2018 and 2019 limited him to just three starts. He threw around 70 innings combined between the alternate training site and instructional league, but still has yet to pitch above High-A. The 2021 season will be a huge year for Rodriguez, who has the upside of a high-end starter if he can stay healthy.

ASTROS



Hunter Brown, RHP

Top Velocity: 98

Brown was taken in the fifth round of the 2019 draft and ranks as the Astros’ No. 8 prospect entering the season. He’s built like a classic power pitcher and has touched triple-digits with his fastball, which has the potential to be a double-plus pitch. His control was well below-average in 2019, when he made his pro debut in the New York-Penn League.

ATHLETICS


Jeff Criswell, Wandisson Charles, Colin Peluse, RHPs


Top Velocity: 98

Criswell and Peluse joined the A’s from Michigan and Wake Forest, respectively, in the past two drafts and rank respectively as the system’s No. 14 and 26 prospects. Of the pair, only Peluse has official pro experience. He made eight appearances with short-season Vermont in 2020. Both have starter upside but need to polish their arsenals, control or both. Charles has been in the system since 2015 and has made his name on his ability to bring the heat. He was added to the team’s 40-man roster this past offseason.

BLUE JAYS


Tony Rosario, RHP
Top Velocity: 100

Signed as a 21-year-old in 2019, Rosario would have gotten his feet wet in the minor leagues in 2020 were the season not canceled. Instead, he got his first unofficial test in pro ball at instructional league. In camp, Rosario regularly parked his fastball in the upper 90s and touched 100 twice.

BREWERS


Abner Uribe, RHP

Top Velocity: 101

Uribe signed for $85,000 as an 18-year-old, when his fastball was sitting in the mid 80s. After two years of growth, his heater has taken several leaps and now regularly parks itself in triple-digits. He still has to iron out command and control issues, as shown by 21 walks in 28.1 career minor league innings, but his pure velocity has impressed enough to open some eyes.

CUBS



Danis Correa and Manuel Rodriguez, RHPs

Top Velocities: 98

Rodriguez is somewhat of a known commodity, having ranked in the Cubs’ Top 30 for the past two years. Correa, who was signed in the same class as Rodriguez, was already in the 91-95 range when he signed out of Colombia as a 17-year-old. His velocity has taken a bump since then, but he also missed the 2019 season with injuries before the cancellation of the 2020 season. He should get his first real game action since 2018 once the new season begins in May.

D-BACKS


Conor Grammes, RHP


Top Velocity: 100

Grammes has always had electric stuff. The question was whether he’d harness it into consistent, quality strikes. Instructional league won’t answer those questions completely, but scouts were plenty impressed with what he showed during his time on the backfields in Scottsdale.

DODGERS


Jordan Sheffield, RHP

Top Velocity: 99

Sheffield was taken by the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft, perhaps in large part because of the velocity he showed at the Dodgers’ instructional league. Now with Colorado, he’ll have a chance to make his big league debut while pitching for the first time above Double-A.

GIANTS


Camilo Doval, RHP


Top Velocity: 102

Doval was in the mix to make his big league debut in 2020 and was part of the Giants’ taxi squad at times. Even though he never got that first big league call, he certainly opened eyes within the system. He pairs the big fastball with a nasty slider and could be a high-strikeout option in the team’s bullpen this season.

INDIANS


Emmanuel Clase, RHP


Top Velocity: 100

The key prize in the trade that sent Corey Kluber to Texas, Clase was suspended for 80 games during the 2020 season (reduced to a season-long suspension because the season was shortened to 60 games) and spent time rehabbing a strained muscle in his shoulder. Nevertheless, he was still bringing the heat at instructs and should be a key piece of Cleveland’s pen in 2021.

MARINERS


Elvis Alvarado, RHP

Top Velocity: 100

Alvarado was one of the pitchers the Mariners received from the Nationals in exchange for Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias back in 2019. He jumped three levels in his first year with his new organization, but threw just 28.2 innings overall. His control was still scattershot at instructional league, especially with his fastball. He throws plenty hard, now he just needs to know where it’s going.

MARLINS


Max Meyer, Kyle Nicolas, RHPs

Top Velocity: 97

Meyer and Nicolas were Miami’s first- and supplemental second-round picks from the 2020 draft, and each carries a reputation as a fireballer, so topping their instructional league in terms of velocity should come as no surprise. Both are athletic pitchers with college pedigrees who buttress their fastballs with powerful sliders. Given their pedigrees, both Meyer and Nicolas could move through the system quickly.

METS



Tylor Megill, Matt Allan, Colin Holderman, Marcel Renteria, Dedniel Nunez

Top Velocity: 97

The biggest name here is Allan, who ranks No. 98 on this year’s Top 100 Prospects. Renteria and Megill each rank in the second tier of Mets’ prospects, and Holderman is a tick lower too. Nunez was popped by the Giants in the Rule 5 draft but has suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in spring training and is currently assessing his options.

NATIONALS


Jackson Rutledge, RHP
Top Velocity: 99

Much like Matt Allan with the Mets and Max Meyer with the Marlins, Rutledge being the Nationals’ velocity king at instructional league is no surprise. He earned a reputation in college as a pitcher with a big-time fastball that peaked at 101 mph. His combination of size and stuff could help him make a very quick trip through the minor leagues.

ORIOLES


DL Hall, LHP
Top Velocity: 99

Hall is right behind Grayson Rodriguez in the upper echelon of Orioles pitching prospects, and checks in at No. 59 among this year’s Top 100 Prospects. He’s always had nasty stuff, and made big strides in terms of repertoire and plan of attack over the summer at the alternate training site and instructional site and has a very high ceiling if he can continue polishing the rough edges

PADRES


Dauris Valdez, RHP

Top Velocity: 102

Velocity and intimidation are Valdez’s two calling cards. He’s a massive human at 6-foot-8 and 254 pounds and has long lived in the upper 90s with his fastball and has gotten well into triple-digits on plenty of occasions. He backs up the heater with a slider and changeup and below-average control, but throws enough strikes that he should be a big leaguer this year.

PHILLIES


Billy Sullivan, Mick Abel, RHPs

Top Velocity: 99

Abel, the team’s first-rounder in 2020, is not surprising to see at the top of instructional league leaderboards. He’s got a big fastball and nasty offspeeds to back it up. Sullivan is a bit less-heralded, having been drafted by the Phillies in 2017 but choosing instead to go to school at Delaware. He was signed by the club this past summer as a non-drafted free agent and got his feet wet at instructional league, where he averaged 96 mph on his fastball and backed it up with a short-breaking slider.

PIRATES


Tahnaj Thomas, Quinn Priester, RHPs

Top Velocity: 99

Seeing Thomas and Priester at the top of the Pirates’ instructional league velocity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Both pitchers rank among Pittsburgh’s Top 10 prospects and each has earned a reputation for bringing the heat. Priester impressed scouts enough to jump into our Top 100 Prospects list, and Thomas could follow with a strong minor league season.

RANGERS


Adrian Rodriguez, RHP

Top Velocity: 98

Rodriguez was Texas’ 39th-round pick in 2019 out of Florida Virtual School and signed for $50,000. He has yet to pitch in an official game since the 2020 minor league season was canceled but averaged 95 mph with his fastball at this past fall’s instructional league. He’s got a full four-pitch complement and could be an intriguing wild card to watch this summer.

RAYS


Seth Johnson, RHP

Top Velocity: 99

A former shortstop, Johnson got serious helium between his sophomore and junior seasons when he got on the mound. Because of the canceled minor league season in 2020, Johnson has just 89 official innings between college and professional ball. In that short time, however, he’s shown a live fastball, a nasty slider and plenty of promise.

REDS


Luis Mey, Jared Solomon, RHPs

Top Velocity: 99

Mey jumped onto the radar during instructional league on the strength of his fastball, which averaged 95 mph during the team’s time on the Goodyear, Ariz., back fields. He’s a project to watch going forth, but showed enough to rank No. 24 on the team’s Top 30 Prospect list. One spot ahead was Solomon, who improved his stuff by leaps and bounds thanks to tweaks in his delivery. Beyond the velo bump, Solomon’s high-80s slider also got sharper.

RED SOX


Brayan Bello, RHP

Top Velocity: 98

Bello is a spindly righthander whose arm action has led to poor control and command thus far in his career. Yet, the stuff is tantalizing enough that he checks in at No. 16 on the Red Sox’s Top 30 Prospects. He averaged 95 mph on his fastball at instructional league while also working to improve the consistency on his slider. He should wind up at High-A to begin the season.

ROCKIES


Riley Pint, Chad Smith, RHPs; Lucas Gilbreath, LHP
Top Velocity: 98

We all know that Pint earned his fame on the strength of a big-time fastball, which has reached triple-digits on plenty of occasions, but still needs to iron out his control and command. Smith has a similar reputation and came over to the Rockies from the Marlins via trade in 2020. Gilbreath is the rare lefthander on this list, and his fastball averaged 95 mph at instructional league. He works primarily with a fastball and slider but also mixes in the occasional changeup and curveball.

ROYALS


Samuel Valerio, RHP

Top Velocity: 101

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 with a fastball that was in the mid 80s, Valerio made a name for himself in short order at instructional league. That tends to happen when you show off a fastball that averages 97 mph and ticks to 101. He has no experience outside of the Dominican Summer League, so his placement in 2021, when the Royals’ two lowest levels outside of complex ball have been eliminated, will be interesting. In a system full of more polished college arms, Valerio is a wild card to watch.

TIGERS


Marco Jimenez, RHP

Top Velocity: 99

Jimenez was signed in 2016 and has wound slowly through Detroit’s system, topping at short-season Connecticut in 2019 before missing out on any regular-season action in 2020 due to the canceled minor league season. He made an impression at instructional league with a big arm that generated fastballs that averaged 97 mph. He backs the fastball up with a pair of breaking balls, the better of which is a low-80s slider. He’s gained significant weight since signing but could be one to watch in 2021.

TWINS


Yennier Cano, RHP

Top Velocity: 98

Cano signed with the Twins out of Cuba in 2019 and moved up to High-A that season. He is already 27 years old, but showed a fastball that averaged 95 mph and peaked at 98 during instructional league. He performed very well during the fall camp, though the Twins only played intrasquad games and he was facing much younger players. Because of his age, he should start the year at one of Minnesota’s upper-level affiliates.

WHITE SOX


Jared Kelley, RHP

Top Velocity: 98

Kelley fell to the White Sox in the second round, and they gladly added him to a class that already included Garrett Crochet and his 100 mph heater. Kelley was extremely impressive in instructional league, showing an outstanding changeup to go along with a fastball which averaged 96 mph. He and righthanders Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist should form a very fun trio at Low-A Kannapolis in 2021.

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