What to expect in 2012: Jon Pettibone

In part 1 of this series, we took a look at what to expect from Trevor May in 2012, and today we’ll move on to RHP Jon Pettibone. Pettibone has been a bit of an enigma since signing in 2008. He was not highly touted by scouts entering the draft and the report indicated he may be better off honing his game in college and then re-entering the draft. After a 1 inning stint in 2008, he pitched just 35 innings in 2009 before logging a full season in both 2010 and 2011, moving one level at a time. His raw numbers have improved across the board, especially in 2011, and his K rate increase is the most notable, though its still below average. More importantly, the scouting reports on Pettibone have greatly improved. His fastball is now consistently 90-94, up from the 88-92 range where he was when drafted. Not only has the velocity improved, his command to both sides of the plate with the pitch has also improved, and his command in general is possibly the best of any Phillies starting pitching prospect. His secondary pitches are still developing, but both his changeup and breaking ball made strides in 2011. His career work to date (click to enlarge)

Like Trevor May, he will move to Reading in 2012. As we’ve documented a number of times, the jump from A+ to AA is a big one, especially in the Phillies system where you go from a pitcher friendly league in the FSL to the more offensive neutral Eastern League, but Reading’s home park plays as a decisive hitter’s environment, making the adjustments all the more crucial. So, what do you expect from Pettibone in 2012, and how have your expectations and impressions of him changed in the last 12 months?

25 thoughts on “What to expect in 2012: Jon Pettibone

  1. If you look at his splits section on the MILB webiste it looks like they finally fixed his overall GO/AO ratio and it comes out to 1.30, which is down from a year ago but still good. Also notable is that his ratio against lefthanded hitters was 1.49. His improved K rate is great but since it’s never likely to be ideal he’s got to keep the ball on the ground.

    I think he’ll have a nice year in AA because he can handle the lefthanded hitters (actually better than he handles righties).

  2. Pettibone was consistently good in 2011. I see no reason why he can’t be good in Reading. He has been improving yearly. If he improves significantly again this year with his secondary pitches he could be the first of this bunch of pitchers to get to the Phillies.

  3. I think he’ll have a season similar to this past year. I had him in my top 10 last year and I have him there again because I continue to think the guy knows how to pitch and throws a great sinking fastball that gets hit into the ground. I don’t think he’ll see Philly in 2012 but he’ll certainly be someone to consider in 2013. While i love the way he pitches, I’m not sure if he’ll stay a starter. Unfortunately, he profiles as a guy that could easily be traded next year at the deadline with other starters ready also.

  4. I can see his ERA sitting in the 3.5 range and he does a lot of what he did this year which is put up good numbers but get lost in the shuffle as he doesn’t have May’s stuff and I think JRod will but up similar numbers to this year (and the questions will continue there).

    I think May has put it all together and I think he beats Pettibone to Philly but I think he is guaranteed to be a starter long term. I think he makes Worley expendable next off-season when he steps into the #5 role behind Halladay, Lee, Hamels (please don’t trade except for a god offer, which for me would have to be from Texas and include Perez, Olt, and Profar), and May.

  5. Pettibone’s 2011 season was truly impressive, much better than I would have guessed. He’s got a great chance at a solid MLB career and if his K rate increases as his secondary stuff improves, watch out!

    I think Pettibone will have a solid campaign in 2012, though I expect him to struggle badly at times as he adjusts to more mature hitters. I think he’ll give up xbh at a higher rate in AA and have to learn to feel more comfortable pitching around the better hitters and out of trouble more often. More than ever he will have to focus on conditioning and preparation, both physical and mental.

    All in all Pettibone’s command is truly impressive and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him in Philly by the end of 2013. I’m looking forward to following him closely in the coming seasons.

  6. Would love to see Hyatt come up soon…IF he changes from a strike-out and fly ball pitcher; that would be a curse at CBP.

    Pettibone really caught the scouts’ eyes this past season. Headed to be at least a #3 in a rotation.

    Not that far away…could make him a candidate for a late ’12 call-up or a guy to watch in ’13s spring training. Deserves to be our 3rd best prospect pitcher. Hope he keeps working like in ’11.

  7. I’m not as sold on Pettibone as others. I hope I’m wrong though. He gives up over 8 hits per inning (not bad) but he doesn’t have the ability to K the next guy or two to get out of an inning. May has that even though we’re not matching May to Pettibone here. He’s proved himself in A+ but I think the leap to AA will expose some weaknesses. If his secondary pitches get a lot better, then I’ll eat my words. He’s got youth on his side so he can fail at AA this year and not have that hold him back too much. I think his ceiling is still pretty high but this year might be a frustrating one. IMO

    1. Agreed. At some point he’s going to need to develop the ability to put someone away. Good hitters will make the adjustments against him, and he’ll need to adjust to that by developing the ability to strike people out. He certainly has the stuff.

  8. Jeez he’s only 20? Why did I think he was older? For a 20 year old, working on his secondary pitches and learning to strike hitters out is the key. Still lots of room to grow and time in which to do it. He’s a Baby Ace as far as I’m concerned.

  9. Encouraging that his numbers have improved each season even and he continues to advance. I think he will have a solid year at AA because of the improving control and GB rate. He’s also proven to be very durable so far in his career.

    If reports on his improving velocity are accurate, I expect his K-rate will also continue to tick up.

  10. If Pet’s secondary pitches mature, I see him as something like a healthy Joe Blanton, not a #1 or 2, not even a #3 in a good rotation, but a solid #4, or an aspiring #3.

  11. This is all going to boil down to two very simple metrics, K/9 and K/BB. I agree with the general sentiment on this board, but i’d add that the difference between him being a #2 and a #4 given what his current skill set is will be stuff (k rate) and command. If he can get his K/9 up to 7.5-8 and keep his BB rate below 2, I think he’s got a real chance at being an aspiring #2 starter. However, at a K/BB rate of <3.5 and a k/9 <7 he strikes me as more of a 3, and anything <3 and <6.5 and we're looking at a Joe Blanton #4 comp. (FYI these are based on his numbers in the Minors, those same numbers in MLB would obviously track slightly better).

    Given he's only 20, I still believe he has a chance to be a #2 starter so don't close the door on that just yet, but odds are, he's a #3.

    1. Oh and i almost forgot, given his uptick in velo and his excellent command, his odds of being a starting pitcher at the MLB level are VERY high, it’s just a matter of “as what”

    2. Some guys with good but not great stuff can carry that over into the majors and be very good based on smarts, ultra-competitiveness, a good pitch mix, and command/control. But it is rare for that type to be even a #3, let alone a 2. It can happen, but there is no specific reason to expect it at this point. Better to look at him more like he actually projects and be astonished if he is the exceptional one that gets to the majors, finds a great approach and his competitive edge and excels.

    3. When looking at similarities….Kyle Kendrick’s numbers for his first few years until season age-20 were approx, BB/9—3 and K/9—6. Though both RHPs, pitch repetoire may have differ between them….but like you mentioned, given his age of 20, his development may give him the chance to take him beyond what some people have him labeled at the moment.

  12. I have no freaking clue what to make of Pettibone, and I won’t even attempt to try to figure out his ceiling since i’ll probably be wrong regardless. At this point, i’d probably be happy if he developed into Kyle Kendrick and anything above that as gravy. He’s something of a wild card at this point, but he’s certainly one of the most interesting prospects to monitor.

  13. I’m not a regular on here, so I may be seriously overlooking something…but why aren’t we being asked what to expect from Julio Rodriguez before Pettibone? I see Rodriquez as the second baby ace to Trevor May (it’s even arguable Julio is no. 1). Is there any question that he is not superior to Pettibone? Or is just that Rodriquez is next in line as this is an alphabetical series?

    1. Julio Rod, though he has ideal size and strength, is considered by many evaluators as having generally overall average to good stuff with a deceptive delivery, which has benefit him well so far. The AA level comp at Reading and his performance in 2012 will determine his ultimate level of ranking. He has skeptics and the jury is still out on him.

      1. J-Rod is pretty skinny – 6’4″ and 195 lbs. But otherwise I agree. He will be a “show me” guy due to lack of pure stuff.

  14. I also am skeptical of Pettibone just because he has a unique profile of success for a young pitcher. However I think his range of expected outcomes in AA is much smaller than May’s – I think May could potentially have major issues at AA whereas I think Pettibone can probably hold his own. Hopefully he will sustain his improved HR and BB rates.

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