The Mets farm system took a jolt in the Johan Santana deal when four of the organization's top arms…
Top Ten Sliders
9. Eddie Kunz: The highly rated closer primarily relies on his sinker/changeup combination to induce ground balls but rapidly developed his slider during his rookie season. He struggled with his command of the slider at times last year, but worked closely with coaches to get a better feel for the pitch. He quickly picked up on the pitch and it became stronger as the year went on, leading many to believe it will a more reliable weapon next season.
8. Jacob Ruckle: Ruckle is not known for much velocity on his fastball, but what he lacks on his heater, he makes up with a tough collection of secondary pitches all of which he can locate with terrific accuracy. His mid-70s slider is his premier option which he likes to use as his out pitch. Though he does not throw it with ideal velocity, he conceals the pitch well thanks to his deceptive motion which gives the pitch the appearance of a few more miles per hour. He is able to control the pitch down in the zone which aides in its effectiveness.
7. Dylan Owen: The ace of Brooklyn's rotation in 2007 thoroughly dominated the NY-Penn League with a skilled combination of pitches. Since his college days, Owen has been a quality strikeout pitcher and attained strong numbers last season thanks to a rapidly improved 78-82 MPH slider with hard three-quarters break. He can spot the pitch very well and is able to backdoor the pitch with regularity to righties, but can make lefties chase it down and in.
6. Eric Brown: Brown relies on inducing groundballs and is able to generate such a high groundball ratio because a sharp two-seam fastball but also because of a power slider that sits between 78-82 MPH. He uses his slider as his strikeout pitch, particularly against right-handers because the control he has with the pitch on the outer-half of the plate. It is a pitch that only got stronger during a quality season with St. Lucie in 2007.
5. Nathan Vineyard: The young left-hander was selected high on the Mets draft board and instantly impressed coach with his deep repertoire as an 18-year-old. The one pitcher that stands out within his repertoire his is big, sweeping slider which can break across the entire strike zone. It is a devastating pitch at times as it spins at a three-quarters angle around 85 MPH. It is finishing pitch which can corkscrew right-handers because of his ability to have the pitch start over the plate and end at a batter's shoe tops.
4. Jose De La Torre: Much like with his fastball, De La Torre's slider is a product of serious torque which he puts on his shoulder and elbow to generate the break on the pitch. The pitch varies in speed as he can throw it anywhere from the high-70s to the mid-80s with impeccable control and terrific movement. That slider combined with his fastball is why the Mets are so high on his possibilities. However, like his fastball, the amount of energy he puts into every slider was most likely a leading factor in his need for Tommy John surgery earlier in this winter.
3. Brandon Nall: Nall is one of the leading groundball pitchers in the organization as he likes to go after hitters with his sharp two-seam fastball, but it is his slider that really makes him unique. He whips his slider in at 78-81 MPH, but its movement is that unlike anyone else on this list. He gets incredible lateral movement on the pitch with even better tailing action that can overwhelm right-handers.
2.. Brant Rustich: Rustich is already known for his serious heat, but he can also put away hitters with a knee-buckling slider which he throws in the high-80s. His slider breaks late and because he can command it in the bottom third of the strike zone, he gets many hitters to swing over it which makes it his favored strikeout pitch. Though he throws his slider with more consistency than any other pitch in his repertoire, he will usually go to it only when ahead in the count. It is his slider when paired with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs that entices the Mets to move him very quickly up the ladder.
1. Bobby Parnell: Parnell throws perhaps the hardest slider in the entire system. His throws his mid-80s slider with great command with even better tailing action. What makes the pitch more effective is that he throws it from a true over the top angle giving it the appearance of his fastball. He continues to strengthen his changeup so it can catch up with the rest of his repertoire, but his slider coupled his two-seam fastball may also make the Mets ponder about using him as a set up man at the big league level.
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