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Kevin Brady's fastball sets him apart for Clemson Tigers

When Kevin Brady's fastball is at its top velocity, the radar guns behind home plate register 96 mph.

The pitch routinely sits between 91-94 mph.

Velocity is where the conversation begins with Brady, a junior, whose arm is so intriguing he was drafted in the 17th round by the Cleveland Indians last June despite being limited to 23 innings by a forearm injury.

Velocity is what fans fortunate enough to have a ticket to the series opener will witness as Brady earns the start against South Carolina at 6p.m. today at Riley Park.

Brady might be the best Clemson arm since Daniel Moskos, who was selected fourth overall in the 2007 draft.

"Velocity is margin for error. That's all it is," Clemson pitching coach Dan Pepicelli said.

"If I throw a bad pitch in a bad spot throwing 87 mph, my margin for error is pretty small. If I miss with a pitch at 97, my margin for error is much greater."

Brady brings more than velocity.

The Maryland native also has pinpoint command of his fastball.

Brady walked just one batter while striking out 33 in 23 innings last season.

The ratio would have been the best in Clemson history if he had pitched enough innings to qualify.

He's walked two batters in 10 innings this year, allowing just one earned run and striking out nine.

What do you have when you combine command and velocity?

"Pitching," Pepicelli said.

And Brady is still learning how to pitch.

While velocity is a pitching gift, it can also slow development if he becomes too reliant on overpowering batters.

"Everyone can hit," Brady said.

"You have to be able to locate the ball and throw secondary pitches. You have to respect everyone who steps in the box.You can't take any hitter for granted."

Two years ago, Brady only had confidence in his fastball.

He didn't trust his off-speed pitches and essentially became a one-pitch pitcher. Brady allowed 47 hits in 37 innings and had a 4.58 ERA.

"All these hitters see velocity," Pepicelli said. "Your ability to move it around and change speed off of it (is key)."

Brady was pitching in relief in the 2010 College World Series, with the baseball world watching, when Pepicelli forced his hand.

"He really never had a lot of confidence in his breaking ball," Pepicelli said.

"We called a couple of really good breaking balls, which I'm sure is not what he wanted to do, but I think he realized when he saw some of the swings that 'Wow, I have a pretty good breaking ball.' That sticks in a guy's head.

He kind of goes back and starts using it during summer and fall ball."

Brady's curveball is now an above-average offering to go along with his four-seam fastball.

The next step is implementing a changeup to go along with the fastball, which can complete the transformation of Brady from high-velocity thrower to high-velocity pitcher.