Remember the name of Cardinals prospect Darlin Saladin

If there was one under-the-radar prospect in the Cardinals' organization you should be keeping your eye on, it is Darlin Saladin.
Arizona Diamondbacks v St. Louis Cardinals
Arizona Diamondbacks v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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The Palm Beach Cardinals pitching staff is garnering a lot of attention this year, and deservingly so. This is the most talented group of young starting pitchers at any level in the Cardinals system we've seen in quite some time. Quinn Mathews is striking out the world, Chen-Wei Lin is touching 100 mph with solid control, and Zack Showalter has started the season with 12 1/3 shutout innings. Juan Salas, Jose Davila, and Ixan Henderson are three other guys who are super interesting and have unique traits.

Last year, I wrote an article about Cardinals outfield prospect Jose Suarez for a series called "Remember The Name". This series aimed to highlight prospects in the Cardinals system that no one is talking about and deserve some recognition.

It's time to add another name to that list.

Remember the name: Darlin Saladin

When digging into Darlin Saladin's pitch data, I was inspired to bring back the series since I have yet to hear any hype about him. 

Outlier Four-Seam Fastball

What makes Saladin so interesting as a prospect? His fastball is genuinely an outlier pitch and one of the best in the Cardinals' organization. When evaluating the quality of a four-seam fastball, I analyze four different qualities: velocity, movement, release height, and command. Saladin's combination of these four qualities gives him a unique and extraordinary fastball.

Firstly, his fastball velocity is his least attractive trait, only sitting around 93 mph, but it has been up to 95 mph. Saladin gets only 5.8 feet of extension on the mound, so the pitch appears a tick slower than 93 mph to hitters. He's still only 21 years old and listed at 150 lbs, so it would not shock me at all if there is a potential velo-uptick in the future.

Saladin generates elite ride on his four-seam, averaging 17.7" of Induced Vertical Break. Although that number is great on its own, things get way more interesting when factoring in Saladin's release height. Saladin throws from a 5.5' vertical release height. The average amount of IVB from that release is a tick over 15". Only three major league pitchers throw from a lower release height than Saladin and average more IVB (min. 20 pitches): Shota Imanaga, Sean Reid-Foley, and Shelby Miller.

Saladin is zoning the pitch only 44.4% of the time, but when he misses, it's generally still competitive up in the zone. Here is a pitch frequency and chase rate graphic courtesy of TruMedia that illustrates this perfectly.

Saladin induces a significant amount of chase (43.3%) due to the location, which helps to boost his fastball strike rate to 67% despite an unspectacular zone rate. Factoring in his pitch movement, release height, and location, Saladin's Vertical Approach Angle on his four-seam fastball is absolutely phenomenal. His VAA is currently sitting at -3.77 degrees so far this season. That would be the third flattest vertical approach angle in MLB this year (min. 20 pitches) for a pitcher with at least 17.7" of IVB. Saladin throws his fastball 44.8% of the time, and I wouldn't be opposed if he upped the usage of it.