Strong numbers from pitching prospect Pettibone

Plenty has been said about highly touted prospect Jonathan Singleton, and with good reason. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff file photo)
Plenty has been said about highly touted prospect Jonathan Singleton, and with good reason. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff file photo) (Jonathan Tannenwald)
Posted: April 26, 2011

Might as well get right into Jonathan Pettibone's numbers. They pretty much tell everything.

He is 3-0 in four starts at Class A Clearwater. The lanky, 6-5 righthander has an ERA of 0.38. He has allowed one earned run in 24 innings. He has 18 strikeouts and two walks. He did not allow a run in his previous two starts, covering 13 innings. Last week, he was named the Florida State League's pitcher of the week.

This is what is known as total domination.

"He has done an outstanding job so far this year," said Chuck LaMar, the Phillies' director of scouting and player development. "He's coming off a good developmental year at Lakewood [8-6, 3.49] and has certainly continued that this year."

Pettibone's arsenal includes a fastball, slider and changeup. The breaking ball is "a work in progress," LaMar said.

Still developing his weapons. Wow.

The Phillies like his stuff, and LaMar has been quite impressed with what he's done with it.

"The biggest thing with him this season has been his command," LaMar said. "His command has been fantastic."

The Phillies picked Pettibone in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Esperanza High School in Anaheim. Pettibone probably would have been picked much higher, but it was generally thought throughout baseball that he wouldn't sign because he had accepted a scholarship to pitch for the University of Southern California. The Phils lured him with a $500,000 signing bonus.

Pettibone will likely remain at Clearwater for most of the season. He won't turn 21 until July, so a solid year in the Florida State League would greatly please the Phils.

But . . .

"Certainly, if he continues to do a really good job, we would consider moving him up to Double A," LaMar noted.

Bats awaken

One week ago, Class A Lakewood was hitting .179 as a team and had scored 27 runs in its first 12 games. In both categories, the BlueClaws ranked 120th out of 120 affiliated minor league teams. In fact, one publication suggested a foghorn might be needed to awaken the bats.

Then came Wednesday's road matchup with the Asheville Tourists. Lakewood put up 21 hits and set a franchise record for runs in an 18-8 victory over the Colorado affiliate. Two days later, the Claws scored 12 runs in a 13-12 loss to Asheville. They're still last in the South Atlantic League in batting, but the team average rose to .232 and is no longer the worst in affiliated baseball. As for runs, they're out of the league's cellar with 67.

Team statistics aside, the surge of offense might have resuscitated outfielder Anthony Hewitt.

The Phillies' first-round pick in 2008 (24th overall), Hewitt is in his fourth season of pro ball. There's no way to sugarcoat it: To this point, he has been a profound disappointment. Heading into the 18-8 game, the righthanded hitter had two hits in 27 at-bats (.074), including 14 strikeouts. Since then, he is 8-for-22 (.364) with three doubles and a triple. He's now hitting .204, finally above the dreaded Mendoza Line.

Make no mistake, Hewitt must do plenty more to show he was worthy of his draft status. His minor league batting average is a puny .207 and his best year was in 2009, a .223 showing at short-season Class A Williamsport.

But it's a start.

Hyatt expectations

In scouting parlance, Austin Hyatt lacks the type of ceiling that more-heralded prospects such as Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart and Trevor May possess. But the 24-year-old righthander has put up some impressive numbers since the Phillies drafted him out of the University of Alabama in the 15th round in 2009: a 2.64 ERA, an 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.6 walks per nine, and 0.4 homers per nine in 47 games, 34 of them starts.

His manager at Double A Reading this season is convinced those stats are not a fluke.

"I think he's a prospect," said Mark Parent, a former big-league catcher, "and so does Philadelphia."

How much of a prospect depends largely on his ability to locate his slider, a pitch he will work on extensively this season. Hyatt's fastball is not overpowering, but he has good deception in his delivery and locates the ball well. He also possesses an impressive changeup. If he can add a consistent third pitch to that repertoire, he could establish himself as a candidate to pitch in the middle to bottom of a big-league rotation.

In three starts at Reading this season, he is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. He has not allowed a home run in 16 innings.

"He's been tremendous," Parent said.

Sweet Singleton

Plenty has been said about highly touted prospect Jonathan Singleton. And with good reason. The lefthanded hitter batted .290 with 14 homers and 77 RBI at Lakewood last season, enough to earn South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Major League Prospect honors and a promotion to Clearwater this season.

So when he missed five games this month with a sore left arm, a loud gulp could be heard from the Phillies' executive offices.

Not to worry.

The leftfielder returned to the starting lineup on April 18. He had a rough return - 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. But he followed by going 5-for-14 with a homer and five RBI over the next four games. He's hitting .306 through the weekend. By the way, he's only 19. Whew.

ON THE FARM

Lehigh Valley (AAA)

IronPigsBaseball.com

610-841-7447

Tonight: vs. Pawtucket, 7:05

Tomorrow: vs. Pawtucket, 7:05

Thursday: vs. Pawtucket, 7:05

Friday: vs. Pawtucket, 7:05

Saturday: vs. Buffalo, 6:35

Sunday: vs. Buffalo, 1:35

Monday: vs. Buffalo, 7:05

Reading (AA

ReadingPhillies.com

610-375-8469

Tonight: at Erie, 5:05 (DH)

Tomorrow: at Erie, 6:35

Thursday: at Erie, 11:05 a.m.

Friday: vs. Portland, 7:05

Saturday: vs. Portland, 6:05

Sunday: vs. Portland, 1:05

Monday: vs. New Hampshire, 6:35

Clearwater (A)

ThreshersBaseball.com

727-467-4457

Tonight: at Tampa, 7

Tomorrow: vs. Lakeland, 1

Thursday: vs. Lakeland, 7

Friday: at Lakeland, 7

Saturday: vs. Tampa, 6:30

Sunday: vs. Tampa, 1

Monday: vs. Tampa, 7

Lakewood (A)

BlueClaws.com

732-901-7000

Tonight: vs. Charleston, 6:35

Tomorrow: vs. Charleston, 11:05 a.m.

Thursday: vs. Charleston, 6:35

Friday: vs. Charleston, 7:05

Saturday: vs. Savannah, 4:05

Sunday: vs. Savannah, 1:05

Monday: vs. Savannah, 6:35

HOME RUN LEADERS

Lehigh Valley (AAA)

Player, Pos, ABs, HRs

Jeff Larish, 1B, 61, 6

Erik Kratz, C, 21, 3

Delwyn Young, RF, 61, 3

Brandon Moss, RF, 50, 2

Reading (AA)

Player, Pos., ABs, HRs

Cody Overbeck, 3B, 60, 6

Matt Rizzoti, 1B, 56, 2

Harold Garcia, 2B, 50, 2

Derrick Mitchell, OF, 44, 2

Chris Frey, OF, 21, 2

Clearwater (A)

Player, Pos., ABs, HRs

Leandro Castro, OF, 62, 3

Travis Mattair, 3B, 54, 3

Lakewood (A)

Player, Pos., ABs, HRs

Jim Murphy, 1B, 51, 4

Domingo Santana, RF, 54, 2

Stephen Batts, DH, 34, 2

Jeff Lanning, C, 11, 2

Statistics through Sunday

Did you know?

Lehigh Valley starter Nate Bump is the only Penn State baseball player to have been drafted in the first round. San Francisco took him 25th overall in 1998.

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