Top 10 Pitching Performances from AFL Rising Stars Game

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterNovember 7, 2012

Top 10 Pitching Performances from AFL Rising Stars Game

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    After looking at the top offensive performances from this year’s Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game on Monday, I thought I’d follow up this morning with a similar ranking of the game’s top arms.

    Most of the pitchers featured in this game were relievers—a common overall theme of the AFL. The four starters selected to pitch in the game were impressive collectively, with some clearly more impressive than others.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, this is not a ranking of the top pitchers in attendance. Instead, I’m focusing only solely each player’s respective performance from the game.

    So, here’s a look at the top pitching performances from the Rising Stars Game.

10. Curtis Partch, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

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    Game Stats: 2/3 IP, K 

    - 6’5” right-hander caught me by surprise with a big-time fastball at 95-96 mph that he used to challenge hitters; works in an above-average breaking ball at 85 mph.

    - Fastball can be flat when he misses up in the zone, as he did against Jonathan Schoop (Orioles), who reached on an error after smoking a line drive off SS Nick Ahmed’s (Braves) glove.

    - With more refinement and improved command down in the zone, Partch should start missing more bats.

9. Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, San Diego Padres

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    Game Stats: 2/3 IP 

    - 6’3” right-hander has power frame but surprisingly is more a command-oriented pitcher; short but smooth arm action and high release is ideal out of the bullpen.

    - Fastball sat 91-92 mph with late arm-side life; isn’t afraid to pitch inside.

    - Curveball has tight spin out of his hand with deceptive pace and downer shape.

8. Victor Black, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Game Stats: 1/3 IP, BB 

    - Hard-throwing right-hander boasted a 95-96 mph while facing two batters; ball explodes out of his hand from a high arm angle.

    - Complements heater with a plus slider that’s a natural out pitch.

7. Tony Zych, RHP, Chicago Cubs

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    Game Stats: 2/3 IP, 3 H, ER, K 

    - Line from game doesn’t tell whole story, as he wasn’t hit hard.

    - Jerky upper body with a fast, whippy arm that pumps fastballs at 95-96 mph with some weight.

    - Slider has some bite and is thrown in the high-70s/low-80s.

    - Didn’t strike me as a future closer, but more of a seventh- or eighth-inning guy.

    - Threw a pitch that I had at 87 mph which I can only classify as a mystery offering; was it a splitter? changeup? Any insight is appreciated.

6. James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Game Stats: IP, 2 H, 2 K, BB 

    - 6’4” left-hander employs over-the-top delivery; front side is still a mess during delivery and clearly the source of his command issues.

    - Fastball has plus velocity reaching as high as 97 mph, though he threw it more consistently in the 91-95 mph range; located pitch more effectively against left-handed hitters.

    - Flashed plus curveball with late downer bite at 79-81 mph.

    - Hard to see him as starter given lack of command and inconsistent mechanics; two plus pitches would be an asset in any bullpen.

5. John Hellweg, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Game Stats: 1/3 IP 

    - The 6’9” right-hander only faced one batter, but it was hard not to be impressed in that brief look.

    - Am intrigued why he sets up all the way to the first-base side of the rubber; hasn’t led to immediate improvements with command.

    - Boasts arguably plus-plus fastball that didn’t register below 97 mph and touched 100; threw a tight, plus slider to Nick Castellanos (Tigers)—pitch looked exceptional when he threw it during warm-ups.

4. Jarred Cosart, RHP, Houston Astros

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    Game Stats: 2 IP, H, 2 ER, K, 2 BB 

    - 22-year-old right-hander has one hell of an arm, but continually leaves something to be desired.

    - Fastball was explosive at 96-97 mph, touching 99 in the first inning; inconsistent command of the pitch as he still tends to throw across his body and lacks an athletic follow-through.

    - Low-80s curveball has plus break while he also showed a nice changeup a few ticks faster; was impressed with the gradual fade of the latter.

    - Given his electric fastball-breaking ball combination, I continue to be baffled by his inability to miss bats with consistency.

3. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins

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    Game Stats: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 K, BB, WP 

    - 6’6” right-hander had his rough spots over two innings of work, but I like what I saw.

    - Fastball sat 91-94 mph with some sink and scraped 95-96 in the first; showed command of a tight, 83-86 mph slider; mid-80s changeup looked solid, as well.

    - Three-pitch mix and college experience could conceivably make 25-year-old a key part of team’s starting rotation in 2013.

2. Mark Montgomery, RHP, New York Yankees

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    Game Stats: IP, 3 K

    - Finally got a look at the 5’11”, 205-pound right-hander after wanting to all season; definitely did not disappoint as he struck out the side in only inning.

    - Works from the stretch every time; starts with shoulders closed and throws across body.

    - Aggressive placement of 91-93 mph fastball that plays up due to a devastating slider at 83-86 mph; pitch is an easy plus offering that has quick pace and unique shape; draws whiffs from both right- and left-handed hitters.

    - Wouldn’t be surprised if he broke spring training with the team.

1. Chase Anderson, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Game Stats: 2 IP, 2 H, 4 K 

    - Of the four starting pitchers in attendance, Anderson was, without a doubt, the most impressive, throwing two scoreless innings in relief of Cosart.

    - Fastball was a bit hotter than normal at 91-93 mph; located it well to both sides of the plate.

    - Changeup was one of the best pitches of the event; true plus offering at 80-82 mph with exceptional fade; used it to strike out left-handed hitters SS Hak-Ju Lee (Rays) and 3B Cody Asche (Phillies) off the outside corner

    - Threw only a few curveballs that varied in pace and shape, though he did throw one with nice depth to get SS Billy Hamilton (Reds) looking in the third.