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.
Height/Weight: 6’5’’ 200 lbs.
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.