Jon Pettibone

Name: Jon Pettibone
Position: RHP
Bats: LH
Throws: RH
DOB: 7/19/90
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: 3rd (supplemental), 2008 ($500,000 bonus)

Pre Draft Report: Jon Pettibone was drafted out of Esperanza High School in Anaheim in the supplemental third round (pick #110 overall) of the 2008 draft.  As a junior, Pettibone occasionally popped up on BA’s radar, most notably as the #6 prospect at the National Classic.  However, heading into the draft, Pettibone was not on the radar, as Baseball America didn’t include him among the Top 200 draft prospects, nor among the 170 best prospects in California.  BA’s post-draft scouting report (behind the subscriber wall) put his fastball at 86-89 and not topping out much harder than that, along with a fringy curveball and a decent changeup.  It also noted concerns about mechanics and arm angle.  He also registered barely a blip on PG Crosscheckers, which noted his tall, projectable frame and also topping his fastball out at 90.

Pettibone was largely thought to be unsignable.  He had a scholarship to USC and had taken on Scott Boras as an advisor (with USC being coached by former Boras client Chad Kreuter).  However, he also had connections to the Phillies, as his father played for Charlie Manuel in the minors 30 years ago.  The Phils also had Cole Hamels call Pettibone in a lobbying effort.  When 7th round pick Johnny Coy opted to enroll at Arizona State, the Phils went $200K over slot to sign Pettibone.

Career Synopsis: Pettibone made his debut shortly after signing, pitching a single inning for the GCL Phillies before participating in the FIL.  In 2009, Pettibone saw his first significant action, starting eight games for Williamsport as an 18 year old.  His time there was fairly encouraging (especially given his age) as he struck out 36 batters in 35.1 innings and not allowing a home run, although he did walk roughly four batters per nine innings and gave up more than a hit per inning.  He had a dominant stretch in June of ’09, allowing a single earned run over the course of three starts (16 IP).  He again pitched in the FIL after the season.

In 2010, Pettibone joined the talented staff and Lakewood.  He made 23 starts and threw 131 innings in a season that was interrupted by a stint on the DL.  While his strikeout rate nosedived to 5.8, he also cut his walk rate down to 2.8 and allowed few HRs (0.7/9).  He also gave up less than a hit per inning.  He was particularly strong during the last three months of the year, as in 12 starts after July 1, he pitched 76 innings, allowing 20 earned runs on 61 hits, allowing just 4 homers and compiling a 48/16 K/BB ratio.

2011 was a breakout year for Pettibone as he put up a 2.96 ERA over 161 IP.  Much of the breakout was due to the development of the changeup which projects as a plus pitch and the best command in the system.  He did not strikeout a ton of batters but walked only 1.9/9 IP while striking out only 6.4/9.  The year plus the exodus of prospects in the Hunter Pence trade jumped him to #4 on Baseball America’s Top 10.

The Phillies sent Pettibone to AA Reading to start 2012 and he did more of the same putting up a 3.30 ERA over 177.1 IP with a 2.07BB/9 rate and a 6.21 K/9 rate.  The start was good enough that the Phillies bumped to AAA Lehigh Valley in late July where his 2.55 ERA over 42.1 IP looked good but he had a concerning 4.68K/9 with only a modest jump in strikeout rate.  His ceiling remains unchanged and BA once again rated him the #4 prospect in the system.

Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Pettibone’s raw tools, rated on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are my estimation based on what I’ve read and those I’ve talked to. The second number is a future projection, the first number is the current assessment.

Fastball: 50/55

Control: 55

Command:50

Secondary Pitches: Changeup 60, Slider 50

Upside:  Pettibone is what he is at this point.  The fastball is average but will show more, the changeup is a weapon, and the slider is an average offering.  His control wavered in AAA but otherwise he won’t walk many and won’t strikeout a lot either.  He has a #4 starter ceiling and is fairly safe to reach it.

Videos:

2 videos from 2010 for you


Pettibone has a weird delivery. He’s fairly compact, but he throws across his body (steps toward 3rd base, not straight home, but its tough to really tell on his clip) and then comes almost straight over the top, which is a really odd combination. If you look at his stride (in the 2nd video, side angle) you can also see that he kind of hangs over the rubber and doesn’t fully stride toward the plate. This helps him stay compact, but it also more than likely saps him of velocity and deception in his delivery. He seems to repeat his delivery fairly well, and its not overly complex, it just looks kind of strange to my eyes. I normally am able to look at a pitcher throw and think of who his motion reminds me of. I can’t do that for Pettibone. I’m not sure whether its good or bad. I do think that he’s cutting himself off from a bit more velocity, and I wonder about his over the top release. Time will tell.

10 thoughts on “Jon Pettibone

  1. Pettibone has not gotten all the credit he deserves. His command is excellent, his velocity has improved markedly (now low to mid 90s), and he’s said to have outstanding poise on the mound. He throws on a downward plane (a good thing in CBP) and is good at keeping control of a game. Even if he does not improve substantially from this point on, he’s probably a solid #4 pitcher in the big leagues, and a work horse at that. That said, if he were to develop one plus or substantially above average pitches, such as an effective change-up, he could project as high as a #2. Fortunately for Pettibone, in Rich Dubee he will have one of the best change up teachers in baseball. Keep a close eye on Pettibone this spring. If his breaking stuff improves and Worley shows himself to be healthy, don’t be surprised if Worley is moved in a big deal (if I’m the Yankees, I’d be very interested in Worley) and Pettibone steps into a back of the rotation spot.

    1. I don’t think he has #2 upside, but he could be a solid #3. The biggest improvement has been the development of a good breaking ball that gets cutterish. The one thing holding him back is the lack of a true swing and miss pitch. He has the highest floor of any pitcher in the org, and he could step in and be a #4 starter profile out of spring training.

      1. Agreed. As I noted, to profile as a #2, he would have to develop a near plus “swing and miss” pitch. Otherwise, his ceiling is as a #3, but his floor is very high.

  2. The biggest mark against Pettibone is his K rate, which unfortunately is still the single best indicator for big league success. Here’s a list of right handed NL starters this year who a minor league K rate worse than Pettibone:

    Kyle Kendrick, RA Dickey, Bronson Arroyo, Jake Westbrook, Kevin Correia, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad, Lucas Harrell, and Jeremy Guthrie.

    Dickey was an awful pitcher before reinventing himself so he doesn’t quite fit into this group. Arroyo and Guthrie have had okay careers. Everyone else is pretty bad. I just don’t see how Pettibone even develops into a 4th starter if he can’t miss bats.

    1. It’s more than a fair point. This has been a concern. The feeling, however, is that Pettibone is evolving as a pitcher and, even with aggressive promotions since the end of 2011, his rate has not only stayed the same but has actually improved at higher levels. But Arroyo has had a nice career and, if you told me that Pettibone would have a similar career, I’d be very happy with that.

  3. I watched JP play when he got called up to AAA, and the man was hitting 95-94. With a pretty good breaker, i like his frame he could be a pleasant surprise.

  4. Too funny and it won’t mean anything to anyone else, but I’m related to him!!!!!!!!! Actually have a picture of him as a 12 year old with his family. Small world indeed.

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