Cardinals' Jordan Hicks makes historic, hard-throwing debut vs. Mets

Noah Syndergaard has hair like Thor, a body like the Hulk and an arm like Nolan Ryan, and yet, a virtually unknown rookie upstaged him on Thursday.

Cardinals' Jordan Hicks makes historic, hard-throwing debut vs. Mets

Cardinals' Jordan Hicks makes historic, hard-throwing debut vs. Mets

As the Mets knocked around the Cardinals 9-4, Cardinals reliver Jordan Hicks turned Noah Syndergaard into a distant second when it comes to hard-throwing pitchers on the mound: Hicks made his debut after skipping over Double A and Triple A entirely based on a strong spring training (and his incredible pitch velocity).



Velocity means little if you can’t control it (as Cabrera could attest to, having been stuck in the minor leagues while posting a 9.4 BB/9 in 2017), but it’s an excellent tool to build off: Exhibit A, Aroldis Chapman.

Average FB Velocity (3/29/18)
Pitcher Average FB Velocity
Jordan Hicks 100.4 MPH
Noah Syndergaard 97.6 MPH
Jeurys Familia 97.3 MPH
Mike Mayers 95.7 MPH
Anthony Swarzak 95.0 MPH
Robert Gsellman 94.7 MPH
Carlos Martinez 94.5 MPH
Sam Tuivailala 91.6 MPH
Brett Cecil 87.3 MPH
Matt Bowman 86.9 MPH

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Normally, single game performances aren’t indicative of much, but pitch velocity is something that is consistent from game to game, so we can partially evaluate pitchers over small samples by it; Hicks receives top marks, averaging 100.4 MPH on his fastball in his first-ever MLB outing.

Hicks’ velocity-filled debut was the fastest in the past two seasons: since 2015, only one pitcher has posted a better average fastball velocity in his debut than Hicks. Mauricio Cabrera averaged 101.5 MPH in his debut against the Indians on June 27, 2016.


Fastest Average FB Velo in MLB Debut Since 2015 (Statcast/Pitchfx, Min 1 IP)
Pitcher Average FB Velocity in Debut
Mauricio Cabrera 101.5 MPH
Jordan Hicks 100.4 MPH
Alex Reyes 99.8 MPH
Ryne Stanek 99.3 MPH
Thyago Vieria 99.2 MPH
Ariel Hernandez 99.0 MPH
Walker Buehler 98.9 MPH

Sam Tuivailala 91.6 MPH

Velocity means little if you can’t control it (as Cabrera could attest to, having been stuck in the minor leagues while posting a 9.4 BB/9 in 2017), but it’s an excellent tool to build off: Exhibit A, Aroldis Chapman.

That said, Hicks has displayed adequate if not superb control while in the low minors (4.0 BB/9), and that, coupled with his plus-plus velocity and high ground-ball rates in the minors (57.1 percent) means that Hicks might have the tools to succeed and thrive in the majors despite making the jump from A+.

He’s an intriguing reliever prospect, and flamethrowers like Chapman and Syndergaard might need to watch their backs: there could be another top-tier pure-velocity pitcher to challenge their hard-thrower thrones.

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