Best fastball? Most usable power? Executives make their picks

January 10th, 2024

Perhaps the best part of doing an extensive survey of MLB front offices is the ability to really drill down deeply. That’s why we’ve been able to craft this series by starting with the most surface level of prospect-related questions -- who will win Rookie of the Year in 2024 -- and then move on to an examination of different categories of prospects, hitting, pitching, defense, intangibles, etc.

Part three gets to move down another level to see what executives across all 30 teams think about which prospects have the best individual tools: hit, power and speed for offensive players; fastball, secondary offering, feel for pitching for those on the mound.

Which prospect has the best hit tool?

Also received votes: Roman Anthony, OF, Red Sox; Termarr Johnson, 2B, Pirates; Brooks Lee, SS, Twins; Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres; Nolan Schanuel, 1B, Angels; Sterlin Thompson, 2B/OF, Rockies

By now, we’re used to seeing Holliday’s name up here, right? Votes for Rookie of the Year, runaway leader for best overall hitting prospect, so it stands to reason he’d top the hit tool question. He’s also only one of two players on the Top 100 list who ended the 2023 season with a 70 grade on his hit tool. The other is Crews, who did get multiple votes along with fellow 2023 first-rounder Langford and Chourio, the Brewers phenom who has popped up all over this survey as well.

Which prospect has the best usable power?

Also received votes: Hunter Goodman ,OF/1B, Rockies; Niko Kavadas, 1B, Red Sox; Colt Keith, 2B/3B, Tigers; Orelvis Martinez, INF, Blue Jays; Ivan Melendez, 3B/1B, D-backs; Lazaro Montes, OF, Mariners

Usable power is different than raw power and the answers may have been different if the terms had been swapped. Usable comes with a belief a player will consistently tap into that pop in games at the highest level and the fact that Langford got support for his hit tool as well might be why he led Wood in this question. It’s interesting to note that Chourio and Crews also got multiple votes in both categories.

Which prospect has the most speed?

Also received votes: Homer Bush Jr, OF, Padres; Evan Carter, OF, Rangers; Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs; Kendall George, OF, Dodgers; Dillon Head, OF, Padres; Druw Jones, OF D-backs; Nasim Nuñez, SS/2B, Nationals; Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals

I would love to see a race among any/all on this list (Spring Breakout Skills Competition anyone?). Crawford was a 2023 Futures Gamer who swiped 47 bags in his first full season. Bradfield was a first-rounder of the Orioles who stole 62 bases between Vanderbilt and his pro debut in 2023. Scott and Simpson tied for the Minor League lead in steals last year (94!). And here’s Chourio again, with yet another tool worth mentioning.

Which prospect has the best fastball?

Also received votes: Jake Bloss, RHP, Astros; Chase Dollander, RHP, Rockies; Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers; Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates; Ben Joyce, RHP, Angels; Jordan Leasure, RHP, White Sox; Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies; Connor Phillips, RHP, Reds; Christian Scott, RHP, Mets

There’s more to a fastball than just pure velocity, and teams get all the data on spin, movement, break, command, you name it, so gone are the days where whoever lights up the radar gun the most leads a list like this. While Misiorowski’s fastball gets huge marks for velocity, extension, spin rate and carry, Skenes rules the day because not only does he also hit triple-digits with a flat approach angle and carry, he commands it extremely well. Harrison is the only southpaw who received any votes for this question.

Which prospect has the best secondary pitch?

20% - Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (slider)
16% - Hurton Waldrep, RHP, Braves (split)
11% - Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers (slider)
7% - Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs (slider)
7% - Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays (changeup)
4% - Orion Kerkering, RHP, Phillies (slider)
4% - Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers (slider)
4% - Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies (slider)
4% - Drew Thorpe, RHP, Padres (changeup)
4% - Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, Giants (changeup)

Also received votes: Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians; Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants; Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres; Rhett Lowder, RHP, Reds; Brock Porter, RHP, Rangers; Noah Schultz, RHP, White Sox; AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP, Braves; Will Warren, RHP, Yankees

There’s a reason Skenes was the No. 1 pick in the Draft and was considered to be one of the best pitching prospects in years to come out of the Draft, with what is now perceived to be the best 1-2 punch of any pitching prospect in any organization. Waldrep’s splitter probably can get big league hitters out right now and it’s interesting to note that he and Misiorowski were the leaders in the question about future closer candidates, with teams knowing those two wouldn’t have to worry as much about command in shorter stints and could miss a ton of bats with their fastball-secondary pitch combination.

Which prospect has the best pitchability?

Also received votes: Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals; Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins; Noble Meyer, RHP, Marlins; Christian Scott, RHP, Mets;  Marco Raya, RHP, Twins; AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP, Braves; Robby Snelling, LHP, Padres; Anthony Solometo, LHP, Pirates; Ricky Tiedeman, LHP, Blue Jays; Jackson Wolf, LHP, Pirates

Is "pitchability" technically a word? Not if you look it up in a regular dictionary. But in the baseball world, it makes total sense. It’s not only about command and control, though that’s a big part of it, but also a feel for how to use one’s pitches to their greatest impact. Lowder hasn’t thrown a professional pitch but walked only 2.3 per nine in his Wake Forest career (1.8/9 in 2023) and uses his three above-average or better offerings to get hitters out in a variety of ways so effectively, most believe he could impact the Reds rotation this year. Thorpe was last year’s MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year for good reason, particularly using his fantastic changeup with outstanding results.