While we are not going to see minor league baseball this year, it hasn’t stopped me in getting some looks on players I’ve missed during the season. MLB and MiLB have opened up their MiLB package for everyone to view (wish I knew that back in January when my subscription renewed) and what better time to have a GIF tournament of some of the best curveballs in the minor leagues.
Here are the rules:
- All GIFs were pulled from pitchers who have yet to appear in a major league game.
- You can only vote on a matchup once, so make sure you pick the one you absolutely want.
- Voting will continue until 12:00 a.m. EST the following morning.
Here are the brackets for Round 1:
1. Matt Manning vs 8. Blake Walston
4. Enoli Paredes vs 5. Nick Lodolo
2. Braxton Garrett vs 7. Grayson Rodriguez
Without further ado…let’s rock the vote!
Matt Manning vs Blake Walston
Matt Manning is easily my favorite minor league pitcher in the Tigers minor league system. The 6’6″ righty has a big loopy spike curveball that pairs well with his fastball and budding changeup. He spent his year with Double-A Erie and the walks, which had been an issue in previous years, came down. The Diamondbacks selected the 6’5 southpaw Blake Walston with the 26th overall pick after he added a few ticks of velocity during his senior year of high school. As you can see, the 18-year-old already has an above-average curveball so if he can add that third pitch, he will be an interesting mid-rotation starter.
Enoli Paredes vs Nick Lodolo
I’ve been watching a bunch of MiLB video during the second offseason and Paredes is one of my favorite finds. Paredes is extremely athletic and how he makes that delivery work for him blows my mind. He has an electric arm that helps him get to the upper nineties with his fastball and a hard curve that just drops off the table. He still has some work to do with his command but we should see him in Houston soon. Nick Lodolo was drafted by the Reds this past summer with the seventh overall pick. Lodolo is an advanced college arm with a three-pitch mix and should move through the system quickly.
Deivi Garcia had an impressive 2019 campaign that saw him go from High-A all the way to Triple-A mostly on the back of his wipeout curveball. He still has trouble commanding it along with his other offerings and I’m banking on him being a pretty lights-out reliever in the end. Not just because of his lack of control, but at 5’9″ it is a little uncertain if his body can hold up, especially with his high velocity. Forrest Whitely had the total opposite year. Going into the season, Whitley was the number one pitching prospect in all of baseball and was knocking on the door of a rotation spot for the Astros. However, he struggled with injury and poor command and he only threw 55.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. The Astros changed his delivery and where he started on the mound, but nothing seemed to really help. Prior to the shutdown this spring, he said he was going back to his high school delivery. That being said, I still think there is a mid-rotation starter here with the chance to be a number one starter, especially if he can fool batters like Tommy Edman in the GIF below.
Braxton Garrett vs Grayson Rodriguez
Braxton Garrett was drafted seventh overall in 2016 but blew out his elbow in his fourth professional start that caused him to miss the rest of 2017 and all of 2018. He returned this past year and held his own in High-A, where he struck out 118 batters in 105 innings. While the GIF might be unclear, you can still see that Garrett knows how to spin a curve and it is easily his best pitch. His heater sits in the low- to mid-nineties and he is working on perfecting his changeup. He showed great command on all of his pitches which is impressive for someone returning from TJS. Miami has something going here and an Edward Cabrera/Sixto Sanchez/Braxton Garrett combo will be hard to beat in the NL East. Grayson Rodriguez dominated Low-A this past year. He struck out 129 batters in 94 innings and his 34.2 K% was the highest in the South Atlantic League out of a minimum of 90 innings pitched. He has made great progress on his curveball during the year and should be above-average at its peak. In the GIF below, he gets the batter looking and the guy behind home plate cannot believe it.