Number Of Minor League Pitchers Throwing 100 MPH Decreases In 2018
It may be just a slight step back, but the 2018 minor league seasons showed some signs that we may have reached peak velo.
In conversations with scouts and front office officials during the season many of them mentioned seeing less pitchers with top-of-the-scale fastballs than they had seen in other recent seasons. Now we have some data to back of that assertion.
Reporting by Baseball America has found 63 (updated from 62 in our original report) minor leaguers who touched 100 mph or higher in 2018.
This is the fourth time we’ve compiled the list of the Century Club–pitchers who threw at least one pitch 100 mph or harder. To make the list, we have to have credible reporting from a scout, a coach or a club official who has logged the velocity with a radar gun, TrackMan or a similar verification. We will continue to update this list if we receive further credible reports, but even if we get a few more additions, this year will have the fewest 100 mph pitchers in the minors in the past three seasons.
There has been somewhat of a similar trend at the major league level. Cardinals righthander Jordan Hicks arrived to give baseball a new 103 mph fireballer, joining Aroldis Chapman, but overall, there were four fewer major league pitchers who threw 100 mph or better in 2018 than there were in 2017.
At the MLB level, the average fastball velocity around the league, as measured by Baseball Info Solutions (and presented by Fangraphs.com), remained steady at 92.8 mph in 2018. It was the first time since 2010 that the average fastball velocity hadn’t jumped.
It may be just a pause, but it’s possible that the league-wide velocity bumps we’ve seen in the past decade may be slowing or stopping now that velocity-building training (weight training, long toss and weighted ball work) have become so pervasive.
One season is not enough data to make an sweeping generalizations. We won’t know for several seasons to come, but for baseball to take a step back when it comes to top-end velocity, even for one season is notable at a time when the game has been seeing more and more fireballers every season.
In 2018, the Padres top our list with six 100 mph pitchers. The Rangers have five minor leaguers who touched 100 mph. The White Sox, Reds, Blue Jays and Marlins each had four pitchers who threw 100 mph or harder.
Just seven teams did not have a pitcher who joined the century club.
UPDATED: The Rays' Diego Castillo, Padres' Jordan Guerrero and the Phillies' Sixto Sanchez have been added to the list thanks to reports from verified sources. J.B. Wendelken and Roel Ramirez were removed from the list after we received further information.
Dodgers Fireballers' Velocity Puts Them In Rare Company
In Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers sent four pitchers to the mound who touched 98 mph or harder.
Century Club pitchers, year by year
2014: Minor leagues 52 | Major leagues 30
2015: Did not compile minor league 100 mph pitchers
2016: Minor leagues 71 | Majors leagues 36
2017: Minor leagues 81 | Major leagues 40
2018: Minor leagues 63 | Major leagues 36