July 29, 2015
As Ruben Amaro, Jr. said on Tuesday, the Phillies didn’t want to just give Jonathan Papelbon away. As it turns out, they didn’t have to. In return for the closer’s services and some money, they received 6’5” right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta, who was ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the Washington Nationals’ 9th-ranked farm system by Baseball America in the preseason.
While Pivetta isn’t the type of impact prospect the Phillies are undoubtedly looking for in a Cole Hamels trade, the front office did well to extract a player of his quality in exchange for Papelbon.
“He’s still got some upside,” Amaro said. “He’s in Double-A and has only pitched three games there, and he fared quite well in A-ball. He’s a work in progress. What his ceiling is, we’re not quite sure. Our projections on him is that he can be a middle to the bottom of the rotation type of pitcher. He could be as high as a three, could be as low as a five. A lot of it kind of depends on how he continues to develop.”
Distance-wise, Pivetta will be making a short Eastern League transition from Harrisburg to Reading. In fact, he’s already ahead of J.P. Crawford and the rest of the Fightins on a road trip in New Hampshire, where they’ll take on the Fisher Cats over the weekend. Originally scheduled to pitch for Harrisburg on Wednesday, Amaro said Pivetta’s start should get pushed back at least one day. Unless he plans on pitching for Harrisburg, that would have to be the case.
For the Phillies, this move at the very least helps build depth in the farm system. Add Pivetta to the growing list of pitchers that can potentially join the likes of Aaron Nola and help the big club down the road.
“It doesn't take a genius (to know) we don't have a ton of starting pitchers slated to help us in 2016, particularly with the guys that can leave for free agency in Billingsley, Harang and others,” Amaro said. “We're going to try to build as many starting pitching prospects and depth as we can.”
Born: Victoria, British Columbia
Height/Weight: 6’5”/ 220
Drafted: Round 4, 2013 (Washington)
College: New Mexico Junior College
|Team ||Year||ERA ||IP||BB ||K ||AVG |
| POT (A)||2015||2.29||86.1 ||29||72||.225|
| HAR (AA)||2015||7.20||15.0||9||6||.311|
As you can see in the video above, Pivetta is very good friends with super prospect Lucas Giolito, who is consistently listed at the top of various rankings near someone like Crawford:
Keith Law (ESPN Insider): At worst, Pivetta is a very good two-pitch reliever with plus control, but he has the feel and stamina to work as a starting pitcher, and the Phillies should continue with him in that role, perhaps lengthening his stride just a little bit to see if the breaking ball improves.
Matt Winkelman (Phillies Minor Thoughts): Pivetta throws in the 90-94 range and has touched 96. Some evaluators think that the curveball could get to plus and he does have some feel for a changeup. He has struggled in 3 AA starts but will likely go to join the Reading rotation. Overall Pivetta is a bit raw for a AA arm, but there is enough stuff and command for a backend (#4) starter. If the Phillies can get some consistency out of his curveball and changeup there is a bit more ceiling than that.
Here is some video of our friend Jonathan Mayo talking about the Phillies’ acquisition of Pivetta for MLB.com:
And finally, here is a short profile of Pivetta that isn’t even a week old from Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann