TCN 2014 Cardinals Prospect #16: Zach Petrick

The right-hander had the best 2013 of any pitcher in the system. What does that suggest about his future? Today's article is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR RHS 7/29/1989 6-3 195 R R 2012 FA

School: University of Northwestern Ohio

Selected 2013 stats

Peo 1 0 0.83 1.70 16 0 7 32.2 24 5 1 8 46 1.60 0.200 0.307
PB 3 0 0.27 1.64 9 4 1 33.1 21 4 0 4 32 1.20 0.176 0.241
Spr 3 3 3.99 3.24 9 9 0 47.1 44 22 3 15 44 0.82 0.247 0.306
Total 7 3 1.99   34 13 8 113.1 89 31 4 27 122 1.09 0.213  

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (21): If you look back a year ago at this time, non-draftee Zach Petrick was a no-name in the Cardinals organization. Now after a season of shooting up three levels in the Cardinals minor league system, Petrick has placed his name among the Cardinals' many top pitching prospects. He was voted on by community as the 21st prospect.

You may ask yourself two questions. Why was Petrick an undrafted free agent? And how did so many professional scouts miss on this kid? There are two simple reasons. He came from a small college in Illinois (near St. Louis) where didn't perform all that well – at least not up to his capabilities. Secondly, no other team gave him the opportunity like the Cardinals did based on what long-time area scout Brian Hopkins saw in him.

Now that we have the great story out of the way, let's look at performance. Petrick really came out of nowhere pitching the way he did in 2013 just from a few mechanical tweaks and added athleticism to his delivery.

In 2013, Petrick had a combined record of 7-3 with an ERA of 1.99 and 122 strikeouts in just 113 1/3 innings. I think you can see why he is receiving the attention by advancing three levels in just one full season.

This is from my notes during one of his starts at Springfield in 2013: Petrick is a sturdy athletic durable guy with little to no room left in his frame to fill out. He has a repeatable delivery with a little stride to home plate and an arm motion that is more short than compact. Despite that, everything is clean and he repeats well.

The other thing that stands out is his ability to command all of his pitches and throw them for strikes. He has excellent down-in-the-zone command. His stuff mainly sits in the low 90s with an occasional 94-95 mph. Petrick also throws a decent change-up, and a sharp power breaking ball that is unhittable when he gets ahead and locates it. His build, motion, and breaking ball remind me of Bud Norris.

With more experience as a starter, Petrick has the chance in my opinion to make a real good back-of-the-rotation starter someday. His three-pitch mix is really intriguing. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (15): Interestingly, comparing my Petrick vote to the community vote is a mirror image of our John Gast placement, 21 to 15. This time, I am the more aggressive voter. The weighted score put Petrick in our overall 16th spot this season. It is one of the best top 40 debuts for a non-drafted US-based free agent that I can recall.

It is deserved.

One of the reasons I started naming our own Players of the Month and Year some years ago was that I felt the clear distinction between anyone being recognized for having a great 30-day period on the field and the player's top prospect status was blurred at times. In other words, the name-brand guys seemed to have preference.

Even if that was the temptation with Petrick in 2013, his year was so impressive it could not be ignored. He earned the recognition as the Cardinals organization's Pitcher of the Year along with our nod from The Cardinal Nation as the top starting pitcher in the entire system.

Truth be known, Petrick did not come out of nowhere in 2013. Even the prior summer, he stood out. Petrick was The Cardinal Nation's Johnson City Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2012 and further, was our top rookie starting pitcher in the organization. Considering his competition included Tim Cooney, Cory Jones, Kurt Heyer, Chris Perry and many others, it is clear that Petrick is not a one-hit wonder.

Still, Petrick re-earned his notice as he had to open the 2013 season in Peoria's bullpen. It did not take long, however, for him to rejoin the starting five while at Palm Beach and he took off to Springfield from there.

It would be unfair to expect him to move to the majors as fast as his predecessor as top pitcher in the system, Seth Maness, did one year ago. Yet it seems that Petrick has earned the right to be in a rotation out of the gates in 2014, perhaps initially returning to Double-A, where he made just nine starts to close last season.

Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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