Righty hurler Jonathan Pettibone, a third round selection in the 2008 amateur draft, has stood out as an increasingly promising prospect over the past few years for the Phillies. After putting himself on the map, Pettibone now resides among the team’s best options to debut on the big league roster in the very near future.
Pettibone signed with the Phils in 2008 after committing to the University of Southern California on a baseball scholarship. The son of former Twins pitcher Jay Pettibone states that his dad was an influence on him, during his youth, but dad backed off and let the younger Pettibone learn from his coaches as well as on his own, once he reached high school playing age.
The 6-foot-6 225-pounder made his pro debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2008, recording an inning of work. The following season, the Esperanza High School (California) product joined the starting rotation for the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League. In nine games, Pettibone posted a 2-4 record with a 5.35 ERA and a .261 batting average against. His season was shortened by injury that year.
In 2010 with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Pettibone improved his velocity and effectiveness by working closely with pitching coach Steve Schrenk to adjust his mechanics and extension. Pettibone’s results on the mound became increasingly solid as his remarkable campaign progressed. After posting a 5.04 ERA in 12 games through the end of June, Pettibone tallied a 2.37 ERA over his final 12 appearances of the regular season. Those outstanding efforts down the stretch helped the club win its second straight South Atlantic League championship. Overall, Pettibone recorded an 8-6 record and finished among the league leaders in ERA with a 3.49 mark.
As a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers staff in 2011, Pettibone became an All-Star while sporting the fifth best ERA in the Florida State League at 2.96 and also notched a 10-11 record with a .248 batting average against in a league leading 161 innings pitched.
The 22-year-old had a strong 2012 campaign, following a troubling start to the season that saw him post a 1-3 record and a 4.78 ERA in his first six outings. In the 13 starts which followed that difficult stretch, Pettibone tallied an 8-4 record with a 2.74 ERA. He was then promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in July, where he went 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in seven starts for the IronPigs.
A contact pitcher, Pettibone thrives on getting ground ball outs, but is able to supplement that with some fair strike out totals as well, averaging 6.40 K/9 in 2012 and 6.41 K/9 overall in his minor league career to date. The California native attacks the strike zone with a repertoire that features a two-seam fastball with movement that ranges 91-93 MPH, an improving slider and a solid change up.
Pettibone, who grew up as an Angels fan idolizing innings eater John Lackey, is very durable and is described by coaches as still having gas left in the tank at the end of his outings.
Look for Pettibone to begin the upcoming season in the Lehigh Valley rotation. While the organization feels Pettibone’s future is as a starter, any vacancy or opening with the big league Phillies this year may result in a void that the youngster could potentially be suited to fill.