Tool Time: Top Sliders

Mike Ekstrom

A pitch that moves both laterally and down provides varying angles and changing eye levels to a batter. Being able to throw it for a strike and bury it in the dirt, ala Jake Peavy, with the same motion as a fastball can be deadly. These San Diego Padres prospects are hoping to slide their way to the top.

Greg Burke

An increase in velocity on his fastball also came with more speed on his slider. While it had been a ground ball machine in the past, he was able to use it effectively as a strikeout pitch this season.

Snapping the slider off with deadly precision early in the year led to a lot of strikeouts and weak grounders. Its tight spin and movement left hitters swinging over top of the ball. It was going so well that he would throw it more often than his fastball.

Mike Ekstrom

The right-hander has always had a solid nickel curve but moving to the bullpen allowed the pitch to shine. An increase in velocity also occurred – much like with Burke – and Ekstrom benefited.

Able to throw his fastball over the plate, Ekstrom would use the slider when he was ahead in the count. Its solid movement across the plate and away from right-handers made it a tough pitch for them to handle.

Jon Ellis

Right-handers rue the day they come in to face Ellis. His slider, coupled with his two-seamers natural downward movement, give him an advantage over the competition that borders on unfair, especially with his near sidearm delivery that makes the ball come from behind the hitter.

Ellis' slider has terrific sweeping action across the plate and gets hitters diving out for the ball – often leading to weak ground balls to second base or shortstop.

Jeremy McBryde

A hard, tight slider doesn't have as much movement as others but his knack for throwing it with the same speed and motion as his fastball gets hitters rolling.

A true swing-and-miss pitch that has late tailing action has hitters bailing on the pitch as they commit too early and are caught flat-footed.

Jackson Quezada

Quezada appears to come out of left field with his slider and its exaggerated break across the zone and down give a hitter fits.

Coming in hard on the inside corner with his plus fastball allows Quezada to expand the zone at his leisure, choosing to throw the slider for a strike or putting outside of the zone to get swinging strikeouts.

Honorable Mention:

Mike DeMark

A nasty hard slider compliments a plus fastball. Its tailing action has hitters committing early and being swept away. Throw in some deception in his delivery and the pitch is hard to pick up from a hitter's perspective.

Mat Latos

With a mid-90s fastball and hard biting slider, Latos is a force to be reckoned with. Its tight break offsets his fastball and provides a strikeout pitch.

Simon Castro

A dirty slider accompanies his hard fastball, although Castro has some troubles controlling it. If he can improve his changeup, the slider will have a serious impact on his success.

Anthony Bass

One of four pitches he throws, Bass has tight spin on a darting slider. His unorthodox delivery also gives him an edge, as hitters have a tough time with pitch recognition from his explosive mechanics.

Matt Buschmann

A cross-body motion with some deception adds life to his slider. Its skidding action across the zone and down provides plenty of ground ball outs.

Neil Jamison

His sidearm delivery gives him an edge on right-handed hitters, as his slider dances across the zone. Its success is instrumental to how he performs and keeping it down gets lots of grounders.

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