Profile: OF - 6'5" - 170lbs - BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 23
• FB 94-95: A thrower of the first order, can hit high 90's, rumored to have hit 100 (40-60)
• CV 77-80: Humps the pitch, needs a lot of work. (30-50)
• CH 85-87: Telegraphed (30-40)
Petricka was actually a draft product of the White Sox from all the way back in 2006 when they selected him in the 38th round out of high school. Instead of signing for minimal money, Petricka did the prudent thing and went to Iowa Western Community College - and promptly had Tommy John surgery. Fortunately, he began adding velocity after the injury, and a lot of it. The Yankees took the next stab at him, selecting him in the 34th round of the 2009 draft. Again, Petricka stayed in school. Then after an impressive Junior year at Indiana State, the White Sox made him their second round pick and signed him for 540k.
Perticka's motion is what you expect to see from hard throwers, he's got the long leg stride and powerful drive to propel his lower body and he turns his hips into the pitch with authority. His arm action is long and he works out of a 3/4 slot, collapsing his front leg and finishing cleanly. Still, the delivery isn't a max-effort affair and he repeats his mechanics well giving him better command of his fastball than a lot of guys who throw as hard as he does. He could do a better job of keeping his wrist cocked longer, hiding the ball for an extra split second. Hitters seem to pick up the ball out of his very well.
His area of greatest weakness is his off speed offerings. Petricka really telegraphs both his curveball and his changeup. The curve comes out too high and is easily readable without the tight rotation to fool hitters. His changeup lacks the consistent arm speed of the fastball and hitters can sit on it and turn it. With a younger pitcher it'd be easier to project that those pitches would eventually become plus, but Petricka will be 23 heading into 2011 and his feel for the pitches is well behind the curve.
We don't exactly have an ideal sample size to work with, but clearly Petricka had a nice debut season, striking out a combined 9.7 per nine innings pitched while allowing 3.0 walks per nine. His powerful fastball has allowed him to dominate the lower levels of Minor League competition, but as he advances, he's going to need to rely more and more on his off speed pitches and by my estimation they aren't ready. The real test will come in AA and AAA, levels where hitters can dominate pitchers without legitimate off-speed pitches.
While the White Sox had Petricka work as a starter at Bristol, they moved him into a relief role at Kannapolis and long-term, that's likely going to be a better fit for him, allowing him to bring his fastball, which can work in the 95-97 range out of the bullpen, to bear while limiting the exposure of his secondary pitches.
I have him as a hard throwing middle reliever right now, but not a particularly special one. The development of a single league average off-speed offering would change that opinion however.
Corey Ettinger is a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates and random thoughts.