Jordan Hicks Apr 21, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (49) pitches during the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks never played above A-ball in the minor leagues. The 21-year-old impressed the Cardinals’ organization so much this spring training that they chose to skip Double-A and Triple-A, and just put the right-hander on the opening day MLB roster.

And all you have to do is look at the radar gun to see why. Hicks entered play on Sunday with a fastball averaging 100+ mph on the season, and he took things to another level in the Cardinals’ series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hicks threw two 105-mph pitches — and three 104-mph pitches — in the ninth inning against Odubel Herrera. Hicks joins Aroldis Chapman as the only pitchers to touch 105 in the Statcast era.

Truly amazing, and what may be even more amazing is how little success Hicks has had striking out batters despite this velocity.

Hicks got Herrera to strike out, but so far he’s struck out just nine batters in 22 innings on the season, which makes for a 9.5 strikeout percentage and 3.6 strikeouts per nine innings (the fourth-lowest rate among relievers). Hitters seem to get pretty good swings on him so far, and it takes much more than velocity to get MLB hitters out. Hicks’ command and secondary pitches still have a long way to go, and he may be able to add more deception to help the perceived velocity (hitters are having no chance on Josh Hader’s 94-mph fastballs because of deception, for example).

But, again, this is a 21-year-old we’re talking about that never played above A-ball before entering the big leagues. He’ll likely improve in other areas, and you can’t teach the ability to throw 105 freakin’ mph.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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