Chicago White Sox rookie right-hander Jake Petricka picked up a save this past Saturday. As Jim Margalus at South Side Sox notes, Chicago is moving towards a "closer by committee" setup, with White Sox manager Robin Ventura looking to ride the hot hand. I like Jim's phrase about the Sox bullpen "descending into meritocracy" and Petricka could be/should be a major beneficiary.
A second round pick in 2010 from Indiana State University, the 6-5, 200 pounder has the fastball that managers usually like in that role, averaging 94 MPH and topping out at 97. The heater has some sinking/boring action and hitters have a hard time lofting it. He also has a hard slider and has been using his changeup more often this year.
Petricka's performance record is erratic. He was used as a starter in the lower minors but had serious command problems in that role; his 5.46 ERA, 5.61 FIP, and ugly 27/35 K/BB ratio in 58 innings in Double-A in 2012 were typical. The Sox moved him to the bullpen in 2013 and he's been much more effective since then, ringing up a 1.81 ERA with a 58/25 K/BB in 55 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year.
He's pitched 44 innings for the White Sox this season with a 2.03 ERA, 3.53 FIP, and 33/22 K/BB with 34 hits and a 2.17 GO/AO mark. He still needs to get the walks down and note the disparity between his components and the ERA. He also needs to improve his platoon splits: right-handers have a lot of problems with him (.167/.286/.218 this year) but lefties aren't quite as helpless (.264/.354/.319), although note that even the lefties haven't been able to hit for much power against him.
Petricka still has some issues to address but he was getting hammered in Double-A two years ago and has made a lot of progress since then. It remains to be seen who will win the closer job on the merits, but in terms of pure physical talent and improving ability to use that talent, Petricka fits the profile.