Jonathan Pettibone Scouting Report

Jonathan Pettibone, 23 year old righty who I ranked as the #7 prospect in the system, will make his Major League debut on tonight. I wanted to make sure you had a more in-depth overview of Pettibone’s prowess than you got in the prospect rankings. Here is the full scouting report.

Jonathan Pettibone

Position: RHP
DOB: 07/19/1990
Height/Weight: 6’5’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2008 draft, Esperanza High School (Anaheim, CA)

The Body and Delivery: Pettibone will land on a stiff front leg during his warmups but becomes more flexible in-game. His use of his lower half is atypical, but not inefficient. Pettibone doesn’t use his back leg to launch himself off the rubber like most pitchers, but rather he takes a long stride and uses his tremendous height to collapse toward Earth and generate his velocity with energy perpendicular to the ground instead of the plate. His arm works very well and generates velocity with ease. He repeats his offering quite consistently. Combine these sound mechanics with a workhorse frame and you can envision Pettibone throwing plenty of strikes over 200+ annual innings for a decade or more. I saw Pettibone once this year and he has terrific control but spotty command, meaning he throws a ton of strikes because his mechanics take him directly toward the plate but he doesn’t always throw them where he wants. He left several pitches up in the zone which he won’t get away with tonight if it continues.

The Stuff: You’d expect an early round, high school draftee to have louder stuff than Pettibone possesses. His fastball sits in the low 90s with good plane thanks to his height but little horizontal movement. He might run it up to 94mph early tonight with the adrenaline rush. It’s a 50-55 pitch. His best offering is the changeup which will sit 82-85mph and features good fade and arm speed. He’ll go to it when he falls behind, especially to lefties, and I won’t argue with you if you want to put a 6 on it though I’m inclined to go a half grade lower. Pettibone doesn’t pitch in a vacuum and guys may start waiting on the change since they’re not going to be mortified by his fastball. The tertiary pitch is the slider, a short, fringe average offering that is easy to identify out of his hand at times. At least, from the scout section it is. He’ll show you a curve or two once in a while in the mid 70s but it’s no more than a show me pitch.

Other Thoughts: Pettibone isn’t what you’d expect from an early round High School draftee. He has the look of a polished college arm, low risk, low reward. His father, Jay, was a big leaguer. Pettibone didn’t make his debut in Baseball America’s prospect handbook until 2011 (when Bryce Harper was on the cover) when he was ranked 18th. He was touching 94mph more regularly then. Pettibone is the first of the “baby aces” to make it to the big leagues. He won’t be an ace. None of them were ever going to be. Pettibone’s stuff and control package is good enough that he can be a #5 starter but if any of his skills deteriorate at all he’ll be an up and down guy. He can’t afford to lose any fastball velo or control over his offerings. He walks a fine line.

Leave a Reply

*

24 comments

  1. Evan

    April 22, 2013 09:21 AM

    Hopefully 5-6 innings today allowing 2-3 runs. I would have to think Morgan would have been the call-up if he didn’t pitch on Thursday. Seems that the 5th starter will be a rotation of Pettibone, Morgan and Cloyd until Lannan gets back. Maybe give each of them a start and then go with the best one?

  2. Eric Longenhagen

    April 22, 2013 09:38 AM

    Morgan’s not on the 40-man roster. He hasn’t pitched a full season above A ball yet. I’d let Morgan season a while. Also, I’d like to see Morgan this year and write him up. Haven’t been able to yet. He’s the only one.

  3. Phillie697

    April 22, 2013 09:45 AM

    Eric,

    The profile you have for Petti is about the same I read last year about Cloyd (from other people, not you). Is that a fair comparison? What’s the difference between the two as far as their “stuff”?

  4. Eric Longenhagen

    April 22, 2013 10:47 AM

    Pettibone has a better fastball, both in velo and in downhill plane. Cloyd pitches with a 40 grade fastball and isn’t a backend guy for me. He’s a spot starter a la Drew Carpenter, especially since his command has gone south so far this year.

    Cloyd’s secondaries in order of use and grade: Cutter, Curveball, Changeup.

    Pettibone’s: Change, Slider, Curve.

  5. Phillie697

    April 22, 2013 10:53 AM

    Eric,

    How about command and control? Can we expect Petti to eventually have Cloyd’s excellent K/B ratio? Because he could be a useful piece if he becomes Tyler Cloyd with better stuff.

  6. Eric Longenhagen

    April 22, 2013 11:16 AM

    Cloyd’s ratios wouldn’t hold up long term in the big leagues once Major League hitters saw him enough to make adjustment. Control Pettibone has in spades. Command is fine too but comes and goes.

  7. Corinne

    April 22, 2013 01:52 PM

    Eric: Kyle Kendrick came up as an emergency starter in 2007 with a poor pitch arsenal for a major league starter. I don’t know what the scouting reports on him were at the time, but I imagine it was hard to forecast his notable growth over the past 5 years with the development of his cutter and changeup.

    (Please correct me if I’m wrong and the scouts saw the potential for improvement from Kendrick.)

    My question is, what are indicators for potential future improvements by a player? And more specifically, do any of the Phillies top pitching prospects (Pettibone, Martin, Morgan, Biddle) project to continue developing in the majors a la Kyle Kendrick?

  8. Eric Longenhagen

    April 22, 2013 02:24 PM

    Holy crap that’s an awesome question. It probably needs its own post. Let me make some calls and send some emails and let that one stew in my brain and loins for a while because it deserves more than an answer in the comments section.

  9. Chris

    April 22, 2013 03:09 PM

    ^Agreed, that would be an interesting topic to explore. And I might get blasted here, because even I can’t really believe I’m saying this, but I actually enjoy watching Kendrick pitch now. He’s a much different/improved pitcher from even a year ago. He’s pitching lefties in, pounding the zone and staying cool and calm. Fun to watch. Anyone agree?!

  10. Matt

    April 22, 2013 03:30 PM

    If I remember correctly, Cloyd pitched fairly well last year in the limited time I got to see him. Just wondering why the Phils go with Pettibone instead of him.

  11. Corinne

    April 22, 2013 03:32 PM

    Thanks, Eric.

    Chris: I suppose I already showed my hand, but I find Kendrick’s evolution to be fascinating. I too enjoy watching Kendrick on the mound right now… something I never thought I’d say a few years ago.

  12. TomG

    April 22, 2013 04:55 PM

    Re: Kendrick – yeah, he’s fascinating to watch now. I was convinced, as I was watching the first inning, that there was no way he’d go more than three and we’d be lucky if we were down a mere 5 runs when CM finally pulled him. But he went a full six and gave up a mere two runs and just got better and better even though it was cold and he was obviously having a hard time gripping the ball.

    I don’t know why I don’t expect this of him – he’s been delivering good outings for a long time now. He had that complete game shutout against these very same cards in St L. last year, didn’t he? And I remember thinking then, “Holy crap! The man can pitch!” But I wasn’t sure if it was just a fluke. But he seems to give a good 6 or 7 nearly every outing now, so I’m slowly becoming convinced that he’s for real …

  13. Eric Longenhagen

    April 22, 2013 05:43 PM

    Matt,

    Cloyd looks like garbage at Triple-A right now.

  14. EDGE

    April 22, 2013 05:50 PM

    Pettibone reminds me of Jon Garland. They have similar body types and pitch repertoire. I do think Pettibone will have to improve his slider or work on a cutter to succeed in the majors.

  15. Pencilfish

    April 22, 2013 11:10 PM

    “Pettibone is the first of the “baby aces” to make it to the big leagues. He won’t be an ace. None of them were ever going to be”

    Confident, definitive judgment for young players, most of whom have not yet matured or reached their expected skill levels. In light of what Corinne brought up, why do you think pitchers with a higher ceiling than KK can’t eventually outperform KK?

  16. pedro3131

    April 22, 2013 11:46 PM

    Biddle’s line tonight… 7ip 1h 1bb 16k …. Oh and he hit 2-3 with 2 doubles

  17. Eric Longenhagen

    April 23, 2013 10:10 AM

    Pencilfish,

    High ceiling pitchers typically do things you can’t teach. They throw incredibly hard or have explosive secondary stuff and/or are insane athletes that repeat their delivery with ease and/or have huge, projectable frames. When a player has these things and you add to it the hope that you can teach him things about playing the game he does not yet know so he becomes a complete player.

    But most players have some sort of physical limitation that limits their ceiling. With Kendrick, his stuff wsa never that good. He’s learned the nuances needed to make it work. Guys like Dewon Brazelton didn’t.

  18. Phillie697

    April 23, 2013 10:21 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    Did you just use Kyle Kendrick as example/proof that some of our pitch prospects might become an ace some day? Kyle Kendrick, really?

    KK has pitched himself from a replacement level pitcher to… Slight below average pitcher. If that’s the kind of marginal improvement you’re talking about with our “baby aces,” I’m pretty confident siding with Eric.

  19. Eric Longenhagen

    April 23, 2013 11:49 AM

    I’m miserly with the “ace” label. Maybe 4 guys in the minors can become aces as far as I’m concerned.

  20. Phillie697

    April 23, 2013 11:56 AM

    Let’s just say, Eric, there are no Cole Hamels in our minor league system right now. You want to be an ace, you better pitch like Cole Hamels did in the minors.

  21. Pencilfish

    April 23, 2013 03:36 PM

    Eric,

    Greg Maddux was neither physically imposing nor a hard thrower, and yet he was considered one of the premier pitchers of his day. I wonder if anyone projected Maddux to win 300+ games back then.

    Corinne brought up the example of KK, but I also witnessed Mike Scott’s rise from mediocrity in 1985. Scott, too, was never projected to be a front-line starter, but he won a CY in 1986, and he was to the Astros in the 86 NLCS what Lee was to the 09 Phillies. Both earned the only two victories of their teams against heavily-favored NY teams.

    Your definition of “high-ceiling” pitcher is about his physical attributes and rightly so. However, as the evolution of KK and Scott showed, pitchers (especially young ones) *can* improve too. Therefore, my question is: of the Phillies pitchers currently in AAA, AA or high-A, which one do you think has a higher *potential*, based on their evolution through the minors?

  22. Eric Longenhagen

    April 23, 2013 04:07 PM

    Sure there are exceptions. Cliff Lee is an ace and his stuff isn’t over whelming. Maddux did throw hard back in the day but remade himself later in his career. Highest potential if you’re extrapolating the strides they’ve made? Morgan. But it was him anyway.

  23. Phillie697

    April 24, 2013 09:52 AM

    Trust me, Pencilfish, if Petti shows anywhere NEAR the kind of control that Maddux had, I’m sure Eric would be high on him as well. This is why I tried to compare Petti to Cloyd; a little better control and command and Petti just might be useful. But an ace he still won’t be.

Next ArticleAn Oral History of The Phillies' Statistical Analysis Department