Scouting Mets' Prospect # 2: Yusmeiro Petit

The New York Mets signed Yusmeiro Petit as an international free agent out of Venezuela. Despite not having the overpowering stuff associated with a frontline pitching prospect, Petit's results are off the charts, as his command. It is because of these reasons Petit ranks #2 among the Top 50 Mets' Prospects.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Yusmeiro Petit
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: November 22, 1984
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The infielders in the Mets system will tell you. Yusmeiro Petit, Inside Pitch's No. 2 prospect and the top ranked pitcher in New York's organization, is perhaps the most dull hurler to play behind.

"I just don't understand him," laughs first baseman Ian Bladergroen, who played with Petit at Single-A Capital City. "I'll tell you what, he's no fun to play behind. There's hardly ever any balls put into play because he strikes everybody out. It gets boring out there." "You wonder how he does it," adds outfielder Jamar Hill. "You think the batters are just dumb. It really looks like he's throwing darts out there. It's like his pitches are invisible. I'm not kidding."

That said, Petit's teammates will take a lazy afternoon against 'dumb' opponents any day if it means his team is guaranteed a win, which is pretty close to what Petit gave Capital City while he was in the South Atlantic League. Petit was downright electric for the Bombers last year, going 9-2 with a 2.39 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 83.0 innings, then progressed on to High-A with St. Lucie where he posted a 1.22 ERA in 44.1 innings.

Those numbers are right about in line with what the 20-year-old Petit has done over his brief professional career, which began in 2003 at rookie-league Kingsport as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela. To this point, Petit has compiled a cumulative 2.24 ERA and a stunning 0.88 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched), averaging more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings.

"You have to choose Petit simply because of his success thus far," said a National League scout. "He doesn't have the stuff that other high-end pitching prospects have, but that kid just makes hitters miss all the time."

Indeed, much of Petit's success is predicated upon his deception. He somewhat resembles Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in his pitching style, although instead of painting the corners away from hitters, Petit can attack anywhere in the strike zone with success.

That may change in the higher levels, but with a quirky delivery that makes it appear as though the baseball is flying from Petit's armpit and explodes on the hitter, there's a good chance Petit will continue to succeed despite not possessing the raw "stuff" that scouts are so enamored with.

"Whoever says that [Petit doesn't have the goods] doesn't know what he's talking about," said outfielder Lastings Milledge, who called Petit his favorite player in the entire organization. "Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. He's one of the best pitchers in minor league baseball and I think he's going to be a great pitcher in the major leagues. We had to step in against him just to see what he's throwing. It was like you couldn't see what he was throwing until it was two feet away and by that time it was too late. It is pretty amazing."

Petit breezed through three levels last season, finishing up at Double-A Binghamton. He's likely to begin the 2005 season there, and with a good showing in the Eastern League, the sky is the limit. It wouldn't be out of the question to see Petit pop up at Shea Stadium in September.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2004

Binghamton

1-1

12.0

10

5

16

4.50

2004

St. Lucie

2-3

44.1

27

14

62

1.22

2004

Capital City

9-2

83.0

47

22

122

2.39

2003

Brooklyn

1-1

12.1

5

2

20

2.19

2003

Kingsport

3-3

62.0

47

8

65

2.32


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball/Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Petit has excellent command of a heavy, sinking fastball that he is able to locate on either side of the plate at will. His fastball, which has great late life to it, averages only 89 MPH but he hides the ball really well and has a deceptive delivery. Some batters have said that when he throws, it looks like the ball is being released from his armpit and that is really hard to pick up, only getting a read on it when it is like two feet away from them. As a result, though he throws only 89-90 MPH, it looks like it is coming in at 98 MPH and more often than not the batters are swinging, flailing away at the plate.

Other Pitches. Petit throws what appears to be a curveball or slider type. Some scouts would call it a "slurve". It is really a devastating pitch and he's able to throw it in the 78-82 MPH range, usually averaging around 79 MPH. It is a curveball with a tight, late breaking action normally associated with a slider. Petit throws an outstanding changeup that also has good sinking and tailing action, averaging 79-83 MPH. He has very good arm action and hand speed on his changeup, giving batters the illusion he is throwing his fastball.

Pitching. Petit has excellent command of his three pitches and can throw any one of them anywhere, at anytime. He has very good pitch selection and has a plan on the mound. His success is very much predicated on his deception and command. Petit throws his fastball a few ticks higher than the batters are expecting and his changeup looks exactly like his fastball. If he's able to throw where he wants to, and the hitters are left guessing as to what is coming, Petit finds success more often than not., which he has. The bottom line is Petit keeps hitters guessing as they can not pick up his pitches well.

Projection. Some pundits refuse to believe Petit projects to have the same success in the Majors because of his "stuff", and mainly because his fastball isn't blazing fast. Petit's deceptive delivery and arm angle are part of his game and he uses it to his advantage, it is part of his "stuff". It will be interesting to see how Petit handles the higher levels and how the more mature hitters are able to read him. All that said, Petit pitches like an ace of the staff and his track history is undeniable. He might not be the ace of a staff at the Major League level, but he is going to come awfully close.

ETA. 2006. Petit, who just turned 20 in November, had a meteoric rise through the farm system and ended the year in AA-Binghamton. That's exactly where he should begin the 2005 season and could get a mid-season call up to AAA-Norfolk should he continue on his current pace. It would not be a total shock to see Petit getting his feet wet with the Mets in a September call-up later in the year, but he should be more than ready by 2006.

Starting Pitchers

2004 Team

Aaron Heilman

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Bob Keppel

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Neal Musser AA - Binghamton Mets
Brian Bannister AA - Binghamton Mets
Yusmeiro Petit AA - Binghamton Mets
Miguel Pinanago A - St. Lucie Mets
Kevin Deaton A - St. Lucie Mets
Matthew Lindstrom A - Capital City Bombers
Vincent Cordova A - Capital City Bombers
Greg Ramirez A - Capital City Bombers
Evan MacLane A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Scott Hyde A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Michael Devaney A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Joseph Williams A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Mike Swindell A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Gaby Hernandez R - GCL Mets


Comments

The Mets have some good pitching prospects and the system's depth is only going to get better with the additions of Alay Soler, Matt Durkin, and Philip Humber. Considering they have not pitched a professional inning in the Mets system as of yet, we'll focus on the pitchers that have. Among the Mets' pitching prospects, Yusmeiro Petit and Gaby Hernandez seem to have the highest ceilings simply because of their age and talent. However, the Mets do have a number of other good pitching prospects that still have time on their side to make their mark. The following starting pitchers are currently in our Tier One group...the top starting pitching prospects in the Mets system.

1) Aaron Heilman - Heilman struggled out of the gate in 2004 but was perhaps the hottest pitcher in the entire Mets' system the second half of the year. All Heilman needs is a chance. Give the guy 30 starts and see what he can do. But that day may never come with the Mets as he appears to be in New York's doghouse. It's a shame too. He's a better pitcher than people think.

2) Bob Keppel - Like Heilman, Keppel struggled mightily to begin the 2004 campaign but finished the year strong. Keppel's always had the repertoire and pitching ability to become a Major League starter. The question has been his strikeout rate. Still only 22 years old and seems forgotten.

3) Neal Musser - With the trade of Scott Kazmir, Musser becomes the Mets' best left-handed starting pitching prospect. A top prospect a couple of years ago, Musser was beset with injuries and had a bounce back year in 2004. Musser is still only 24 years old and should not be forgotten.

4) Brian Bannister - His stats do not accurately portray how good a pitcher he is. Bannister has four plus pitches in his repertoire and has the chance to be a front-line starter someday. Remember, Bannister has only been pitching for 4 seasons...two in college, two in the pros. So as good as he is, he is still learning which is a scary thought.

5) Yusmeiro Petit - The Mets #1 pitching prospect the minute the Mets traded Kazmir. Forget about the pundits and all their talk about lack of "stuff". Petit knows how to pitch at such a young age (19). Drawing comparisons to Greg Maddux, Petit has the ability to change speeds on his fastball and is very deceptive on the mound. Bottom line is he's been baffling hitters from the word go.

6) Miguel Pinango - Pinango was cruising through the Mets system until an injury in St. Lucie ended his season in 2004 after just three starts. Pinango's command is superb. Only Petit's command is perhaps better and even that's not a lock. Still only 21 years old (he'll be 22 by the start of next season), Pinango is still a very good pitching prospect for the Mets.

7) Kevin Deaton - Growing up as an offensive lineman, Deaton is an imposing figure on the mound. Like Pinango, Deaton's rise through the system hit a speed bump in 2004 when he was plagued by injury (tendonitis). His fastball tops off at 94 MPH with solid movement and is still only 23 years old.

8) Matthew Lindstrom - Nobody throws as hard as Lindstrom does in the Mets' organization...nobody! Lindstrom is a fascinating talent that is getting a chance to showcase his stuff in the Arizona Fall League this year. With a fastball that regularly sits in the 94-96 MPH range, he can top it off at 100 MPH at times. Used primarily as a starter up to this point, his future seems to be in the bullpen...possibly as a closer.

9) Vincent Cordova - Cordova has the talent to be a very good pitching prospect for the Mets. Drafted out of college in 2003, Cordova needs to prove he can get hitters out at the higher level. Like Pinango and Petit, Cordova's success is predicated on his control. He's a Tier One prospect for now but time is not on his side.

10) Greg Ramirez - Used as both a starter and a relieve in his short career thus far, Ramirez is like Cordova. He has the talent and the stuff to be a Tier One pitching prospect for the Mets, but like Cordova, he's going to have to prove it at the higher levels to remain in this group. It's unclear how he will be used in the future.

11) Evan MacLane - MacLane gives the Mets' pitching in their farm system they seriously lack: quality left-handed pitching among their starting pitching prospects. MacLane was dominating South Atlantic League hitters in 2004 before being sent to Brooklyn where he had the same success. MacLane should be challenged in 2005 and will most likely be part of the St. Lucie staff. Like Ramirez, Cordova, Petit, and Pinango, MacLane is all about the control. He has great command of his pitches.

12) Scott Hyde - Hyde was not scheduled to pitch in live games this past season after being drafted but still managed to showcase some good pitching in his stint with the Cyclones. Hyde has the chance to be the "sleeper" among the Mets' 2004 draft picks.

13) Michael Devaney - Among the NY-Penn League leaders in ERA, Devaney is very solid. As is the case with most of the Cyclones' rotation, he'll have to duplicate the same success at the higher levels to remain in the Tier One level of starting pitching prospects.

14) Joseph Williams - Like Devaney, it's hard to dispute the success Williams had in Brooklyn this past season. The fact that he's a lefty aids his chances to be challenged quickly in the Mets' farm system.

15) Mike Swindell - Another college arm that was drafted in 2004 that will have to quickly prove he can become a solid starting pitching prospect for the Mets.

16) Gaby Hernandez - The Mets' third round pick in 2004, right now, Hernandez appears to be second behind Petit with the highest upside among the starting pitching prospects. It's too early to tell, but Hernandez has the talent to duplicate Petit's fast track through the minors.

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