Sport Tigers prospect has 100-mph fastball. And you've probably never heard of him

03:15  15 february  2020
03:15  15 february  2020 Source:   freep.com

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A 100 - mph fastball reaches home plate in under 400 milliseconds. The swing itself takes about 150 milliseconds. That leaves less than a quarter As popular as they’ ve become, 100 - mph fastballs are still pretty rare—rare enough that you ’re not going to face off against them regularly at batting practice.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Wladimir Pinto is an under-the-radar pitching prospect for the Detroit Tigers who can blow up the radar gun with a 100 mph fastball.

a group of baseball players standing on top of a grass covered field: Pitcher Wladimir Pinto, center, warms up during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.© Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press Pitcher Wladimir Pinto, center, warms up during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.

“How fast is your fastball?” I ask him in the Tigers' clubhouse.

“I can reach triple digits,” he says through translator Carlos Guillen (who is not the former Tigers player). “But I’m between 95-98.”

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“100?” I ask. “For strikes?”

He smiles and nods. “Sometimes.”

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The Cubs have yet to draft and develop a big-league starting pitcher since Theo Epstein’s crew took over more than five years ago — much less a But that might be about to change as Cease prepares his 100 - mph fastball and power curve for their first full-season assignment in the Cubs’ system.

After Pinto's first official bullpen, Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson was impressed.

“The ball flies out of his hands,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of good arms to work with. A couple of rough years in there, but now you are starting to see, getting all the young and a lot of arms.”

Pinto, who turned 22 on Wednesday, is not in the same category as the Tigers' top pitching prospects such as Casey Mize, Matt Manning or Tarik Skubal.

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But the fact that he was invited to the Tigers' big league camp tells you what the organization thinks about his potential.

“He has a live arm,” said catcher Jake Rogers, who caught Pinto’s first bullpen. “He was throwing 75 percent and the ball was coming out pretty hard. It was easy coming out. That is special to see, when guys have arms like that. It was fun to catch and it was pretty easy, too. When guys can throw like that and know where it’s going, it’s pretty special.”

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Last year, Pinto started out as a closer at High-A Lakeland. He threw 33⅔. innings in 23 games, had 49 strikeouts with 20 walks and a 1.07 WHIP.

He moved to Double-A Erie in early July and was used differently, usually pitching in two- or three-inning stints. He threw 28 innings in 16 games, striking out 38 with 15 walks and had a 1.43 WHIP.

“I can adapt to any role they have,” he said. “If I have to throw an inning, I’ll throw an inning. If I have to throw more, I’ll throw more.”

Pinto was signed out of Venezuela when he was 16 years old. He has moved slowly through the system.

“I feel very good," he said. "It’s unbelievable. I’m excited to be here. I feel I’m ready to compete. I feel loose. The ball is coming out of my hand very well. Right now, I’m working on the pitch location.”

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Although his fastball is what turns heads, he knows he has to work on his off-speed pitches to keep climbing through the system.

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“Especially when you throw that hard, you ’ ve got to be able to command your fastball . You can’t be up around guys’ heads.” It was the second time Mahtook was plunked Monday, with Luis Severino drilling the outfielder in the back with a 95- mph fastball in the second.

“My biggest asset is my fastball,” he said. “I know I can throw really hard. But right now, I’m working on my secondary pitches, my curve ball and slider. And I’m comfortable and have knowledge that I have good secondary pitches. Those are the ones I’m working on right now.”

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: This Detroit Tigers pitching prospect has a 100 mph fastball. And you've probably never heard of him

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