One of the things I love most about baseball, but particularly covering prospects, is when a guy I totally missed on pops up, and exceeds expectations. Sure, I could become obsessed with my own reputation, and shoot down any suggestion that I missed on a player. But what fun is that? So, when it comes to Nick Pivetta, I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t see this coming. Hell, I wrote up 15+ Phillies prospects, and name dropped another 7-8, and didn’t even mention Pivetta. Fangraphs covered 33 Phillies prospects, and Pivetta ranked in at 27! All this to say, that the “out of nowhere” label is somewhat appropriate when it comes to the Phil’s righthander. After an outstanding outing vs the Red Sox at home a few weeks ago, the strikeouts, and numbers in general seem to be trending in the right direction. So why not check him out, and see if we in fact have a breakout bubbling. Before we begin, big shouts to Oaktown Steve, who’s been hyping up Pivetta in the comments the past few weeks like a Sabermetrics Flavor Flav. Only he turned in his giant clock (read that fast), for an abacus, which I’ve heard can get a bit bulky when worn as a necklace. Anyway, let’s get into Pivetta’s last start vs the Cardinals at home, the second time he’s faced the Redbirds in four starts. He’s going today in Arizona, so maybe we’ll see if he’s worth rolling out… Actually no rookie pitcher with a heavy fly-ball approach should be started in Arizona, but that’s just common sense. On to the profile!
Scouting Report: A back end fourth round draft pick out of New Mexico Junior College, Pivetta was yet another pitching jewel uncovered by the Nationals scouting department. While he never showed the ability to miss bats in college, or early in his professional career for that matter, the stuff, particularly on his four-seam fastball was always there. He toiled the first few years in the Nationals system before being moved to the Phillies at the deadline in 2015 for closer and noted lunatic Jonathan Papelbon. He struggled through his first 7 starts at AA Reading following the trade, but returned in 2016, and had a very solid campaign between AA and AAA Lehigh Valley. Accumulating a 12-8 record along the way, with a 3.27 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, and a 3.1 Bb/9. This is the first time his strikeout % ticked above 25% for any stretch of his career. After missing the cut in spring training he returned to Lehigh Valley ready to dominate, going 3-0 in his first three starts with 0.95 ERA, .174 batting average against, and 24 K’s to 2 Bb’s, across 19 innings. On April 30th he was called up, making four starts, in which he struggled with command, and to keep the ball in the ballpark (5 homers in 19.1 innings), before being sent back down. Since the recall on June 5th, things have gone much more smoothly, as Pivetta has translated his swing and miss game, and plus command from the minors.
As for his arsenal, Pivetta throws two variations of his fastball, a hard four-seamer, and a sinking two-seamer, at a similar speed to his four-seamer. His fastball has nice movement, even getting some cut from time to time, as well as a little backspin. This is by far his highest volume pitch, as he leans on his heat nearly 70% of the time. The two varations at times are tough to differentiate. He features two breaking balls, and there’s some debate as to whether or not he throws a slider or a hard curve, but there’s definitely noticeable break between the two pitches. His slider has some two plane movement cutting toward the glove-side as it drops. His curveball is more loopy, dropping in with more downward movement than his slider, and clocks in usually in the high-70’s in terms of velocity. He also features a fringe changeup, he throws maybe 3%-7% of the time, that’s a little harder than his slider in the mid-80’s with some backspin. A majority of Pivetta’s contact is of the flyball variety.
Matt Carpenter – 93 MPH fastball on the outside part of the plate, ball 1, fastball at 94 inside to Carpenter, is swung on and missed, strike 1, 94 MPH fastball inside is hit to left for a lazy flyball out.
Dexter Fowler – 94 MPH Fastball inside is swung on and missed, strike 1, some cut on that cheese, fastball 95 high and outside, ball 1, 94 MPH fastball low and outside catches the corner, strike 2, 83 MPH slider, stuns Fowler for Pivetta’s first strike out looking.
Stephen Piscotty – 94 MPH fastball outside to the strike 1, slider at 83 loops inside on Piscotty for ball 1, nasty break in that one, 82 MPH slider catches the middle of the plate, but is hit on the ground to Freddy Galvis at short, he throws to first for the third out.
Excellent first for Pivetta as records a flyout, a strikeout, and a groundout on just 10 pitches. The fastball is great so far, and has already gotten some swinging strikes.
Jedd Gyorko – Starts him off with a fastball low and inside for strike 1, a curveball over the plate snaps down for a ball, 94 MPH fastball too far inside for ball 1, a fastball middle in at 95 is swung on and missed, for strike 2, a 95 MPH fastball on the outside is reached on and hit the other way for a bloop single.
Yadier Molina – 94 MPH fastball low and outside, ball, 95 MPH outside hit foul, strike 1, 94 MPH high and outside, swung on and missed, strike 2, 95 MPH fastball low and outside, gets a check swing by Molina, and the first base ump rings him up.
Tommy Pham – 95 MPH down main st., strike 1, 94 MPH outside is fouled on a check swing, strike 2, slider is taken up in the zone for ball 1, 82 MPH slider on the middle part of the plate for strike 3. Second strikeout looking in the slider
Greg Garcia – 94 MPH fastball high in the zone, strike 1, 80 MPH curveball on the outside for strike 2, 97 MPH fastball in the outside, ball, slider at 81 inside, ball 2, 96 MPH fastball on the outside is hit for flyball to left.
Another strong inning for Pivetta, he’s doing a good job of mixing in the two variations of his breaking pitch with his fastball to keep guys off balance. Lots of looking strikes on the slider, and swinging strikes on the fastball.
Paul Dejong – Fastball over the plate swung and missed, strike 1, a slider on the outside gets another swing and miss for strike 2, fastball at 94 MPH on he outside, fouled off, fastball at 95 on the outside, swung on and missed, strike 3.
Michael Wacha – 94 MPH on the outside, ball 1, 94 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 2, 94 MPH on the middle of the plate to for strike 1, another fastball at 95 over the plate taken for strike 2, 94 MPH on the outside hit foul, 95 MPH on the outside again is fouled off, 95 MPH down and inside, fouled off again, 80 MPH curveball in the outside, taken for ball 3, high fastball at 94 is swung and missed on for strike 3.
Matt Carpenter – 80 MPH slider bounces in the dirt between Carp’s feet, ball, fastball at 93 high and outside for ball 2, fastball at 94 down Main St. taken for strike 1, 95 MPH fastball inside taken for strike 2, 95 MPH on the outside is hit foul, fastball hit to right, looks like it’s headed into the stands but Altherr makes a great catch to scratch the ball from heading into the stands, outstanding play.
Dexter Fowler – Fastball down and in, ball 1, another fastball down and in, ball 2, fastball high and outside is fouled off, strike 1, fastball at 94 on the outside corner called ball, fastball low and inside is hit on the ground to first, Pivetta covers the bag for out number 1.
Stephen Piscotty – 94 MPH on the inside, swung on and missed, strike 1, fastball at 95 high and middle is fouled back, strike 2, fastball at 97 high and outside, ball, 85 MPH slider on the outside gets a check swing, he couldn’t hold up, strike 3.
Jedd Gyorko – 84 MPH slider on the outside taken for ball 1, fastball at 95 in the outside, ball 2, 95 MPH fastball high and outside hit to Galvis at short, he makes a great play to his left going into a slide before throwing in front of the bag, Gyorko’s safe.
Yadier Molina – Fastball to the outside, ball, curve on the outside fouled off, strike 1, 94 MPH high and inside, check swing strike 2, fastball at 96 is hit and skied to left center for the third out.
Tommy Pham – Fastball at 94 on the outside corner, strike 1, fastball at 94 inside fouled off, strike 2, 95 MPH on the outside, taken for ball 1, slider breaks down over the plate but too low, ball 2, 95 MPH fastball on the outside hit foul, 96 MPH high and inside, fouled off again, 80 MPH curveball on the outside ball 3, full count, fastball inside, fouled off, another fastball this time inside, another foul ball, 95 MPH down Main St., fouled off again, 95 MPH on the outside, foul, 95 MPH fastball on the outer part of the plate is crushed to deep center for a homer. Middle-middle and Pham was all over that one.
Greg Garcia – 87 MPH slider in the dirt, ball 1, 95 MPH inside, fouled off, strike 1, fastball at 95 hit foul again, 79 MPH curve bounces on the outside, ball 2, 81 MPH slider down in the zone gets a swing and miss, strike 3.
Paul Dejong – Fastball at 81 MPH on the outside, strike 1, slider on the outside at 81 gets a swing and miss, strike 2, 95 MPH outside on the black rings him up.
Chad Huffman – Slider at 80 MPH, ball 1, fastball at 94 high and inside fouled off, strike 1, curveball in the outside at 78, strike 2, slider at 83 in the inside, swung on and missed, strike 3.
Serious way to rebound, after a tough at-bat, that led to an eventual homer from Pham. Pivetta struck out the next three batters. He’s really working to both sides of the plate with his fastball, slider, and curve. There’s definitely distinct movement differences between the two, as well as a few ticks on the gun.
Matt Carpenter – 93 MPH fastball on the inside, strike 1, got away with one there, curveball at 77 way outside, ball 1, 79 MPH curveball inside, ball 2, 94 MPH fastball low and inside, strike 2, 95 MPH fastball down and outside, taken for strike 3.
Dexter Fowler – 94 MPH fastball inside, swung on and popped up to short.
Stephen Piscotty – 82 MPH slider high and inside, hit foul, strike 1, 81 MPH slider on the outside, just misses, ball 1, fastball on the outside for ball 2, 94 MPH fastball high for ball 3, 94 MPH fastball high and inside, swung on and missed, full count, 96 MPH high and inside, ball 4. First walk!
Jedd Gyorko – First pitch fastball on the outside of the plate is hit the other way down the line in right, home run! What bad luck. Wasn’t a bad pitch, but Gyorko muscled it out of the park.
Yadier Molina – 94 MPH on the outside of the plate strike 1, slider at 82 is swung on and hit for a lazy popup to short.
Summary: What a depressing way to end a very nice start from Pivetta. He was one pitch away from getting out of the inning, but he threw that fastball way off the mark in the 3-2 count to Piscotty, and then Gyorko had a nice swing on a pitch on the outside part of the plate, and voila, two runs. In closing I’ve come away impressed by Pivetta. The fastball is excellent, the slider is a solid secondary offering, and he’s effective mixing in the loopy curveball. He works high and low, in and out of the zone to both righthanders and lefties, keeping hitters off balance. He’s not a comfortable at bat at all (good call OTS). The fastball had some nice cut and backspin on it, and hitters have a tough time picking it up versus his slider and curve. My take, the strikeouts are real, but his flyball tendencies will hurt him in certain matchups.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
Disabled List (Ranking When Active): Madison Bumgarner, SF (3) , Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Dallas Keuchel, HOU (13), Danny Duffy (19), KC, Kyle Hendricks, CHC (33), Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS (31), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (34), Charlie Morton, HOU (46), C.C. Sabathia, NYY (51), Matt Shoemaker, LAA (54), Andrew Triggs, OAK (61), Trevor Cahill, SD (66), Matt Andriese, TB (68),Vincent Velasquez, PHI (73), Zack Wheeler, NYM (75), Kendall Graveman, OAK (76), Jerad Eickhoff, PHI (91), Matt Harvey, NYM (99)
Dropped off: Kevin Gausman, BAL, Trevor Williams, PIT, Joe Musgrove, HOU, Erasmo Ramirez, TB, Danny Salazar, CLE, Patrick Corbin, ARI, Chad Kuhl, PIT, Amir Garrett, CIN, Matt Garza, MIL, Tyler Anderson, COL, Jesse Chavez, LAA, Jeremy Hellickson, PHI, Ricky Nolasco, LAA, Josh Tomlin, CLE, Alex Meyer, LAA, Tyson Ross, TEX, Robert Gsellman, NYM, Joe Biagini, TOR, Wade Miley, BAL
- Goodbye Robert Gsellman, I’ll always remember you when I think about the 2017 pre-season, and I’ll always remember how much you sucked!
- Welcome the Brewers Chase Anderson to the Top 30! Well deserved, but what’s driving it? There’s been a jump in velocity on all four of his pitches, so there’s that. But how much do trust jumps in velocity this year with the new measurement system? Maybe he’s always thrown that hard, amirite? What I do see that’s evolved is his pitch usage. He’s been leaning on the cutter this year 13.2% of the time, compared to his usage of it around 6% of the time last year. It gives him another legit secondary to pair with his curve and change, and has been driving a spike in popups, and downturn in homers, and hard contact in general.
- I dumped Mike Leake way down week over week. The early season mirage is behind us, and he’s been awful for a month now. In his last 6 starts he’s 0-4 with a 5.15 ERA, and his usual crap-tastic K per numbers. If Leake isn’t sprucing up my ratios he can eat a D. That D stood for drop, what did you think I was saying?
- I hate Masahiro Tanaka! You can ask The Crabs too, I predicted he’d toss a gem on ’em against the Rangers. What was this inside carnal knowledge I was privy too? Oh, nothing, just seemed like he hadn’t sucked us back into his web of lies recently. Because, you know, he’s just been sucking. I watched the whole start, as it was Tanaka vs. Yu. And my take is this, he was locating well again, had his pinpoint control and command, and was challenging hitters with the high fastball. He’s been vocal about the seam change, so maybe he figured out how to get the right spin back on the splitter.
- Since returning from the DL on the first of the month, Corey Kluber has been the best pitcher in baseball. Sorry, Alex Woodies… He’s recorded quality starts in all 5 turns, and has dropped a stupid doo-doo dumb K/Bb of 8.67! He’s also recorded double digit K’s in 4 of his 5 starts, and outpitched his 1.29 ERA to the tune of a 0.77 FIP. Slow down Kluby, you killin ’em.
- Might just be time to drop our pre-season-conceived notions about Gio Gonzalez, and embrace the great wide open. He’s been excellent, and less lucky, in June, actually outpitching his 3.03 ERA to the tune of a 2.73 FIP. He’s really cut down on the walks the last month, amazing what some confidence can do.
- Oh hey, Mad-Bum’s beginning his rehab assignments. I’ve read that there will be several, but we’ll see. Casue I’m a dang fool, I think he comes back and is the Bumgarner of old, but what do I know.