Over the past few days, rumors have been circulating that the Nationals were in the market for bullpen help. They checked in on Aroldis Chapman in Cincinnati, Craig Kimbrel in San Diego, but finally matched up with Philadelphia for their own veteran stopper in Jonathan Papelbon.
The price for Paps? Double-A right hander Nick Pivetta, roughly $5M this year, and $11M for 2016. While Papelbon's original contract called for an option on the 2016 season at $13M, he restructured his contract with the Nationals and conceded $2M in exchange for Washington picking up the option in advance. Don't you love complicated contract mumbo jumbo?
Now that we have all that out of the way, here's a scouting report on the newest member of the Phillies farm system.
RHP Nick Pivetta, 22 years old
Ht/Wt - 6'5, 220 LB, Acquired - 2013 Draft, 4th Rd
The fourth round pick of the 2013 draft by the Nationals, Nick Pivetta went undrafted out of high school in Canada before attending junior college in the states at New Mexico JC. He took home a signing bonus of $364,300 and began his pro career as many do in the Gulf Coast League. Pivetta earned a mid-season promotion to short season Auburn in the New York-Penn League before seasons end, getting a little wild but missing more bats.
2014 marked his first full season as he was assigned to Low A Hagerstown out of spring training. He spent the entire campaign there, making 25 starts and one relief appearance spanning 132.1 innings of work. He retired 98 batter with a strike out (6.66 K/9, 17.2 K%), issued 39 free passes (2.65 BB/9, 6.9 BB%), and allowed 142 hits and 15 homers for a .271 opponents batting average. Though Pivetta won 13 games (kill the win!), he had a 4.22 ERA, a 4.60 FIP, and a 1.37 WHIP.
Now in his age 22 season, Pivetta broke camp with High-A Potomac where he spent 15 games with 14 starts. He threw 86.1 innings there to a 2.29 ERA, a 3.31 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP with 72 punch outs (7.51 K/9, 20.7 K%), 29 walks (3.02 BB/9, 8.3 BB%), and 70 hits. Opponents hit just .221 against him and only surrendered four homers. In early July he was given the call to join AA Harrisburg in the Eastern League. He's struggled since the promotion, only lasting 15 innings over three starts. In those three starts, he's walked nine to just six strike outs with 19 hits and four home runs allowed. In the small sample size, AA hitters are slashing .311/.400/.590 against him.
Pivetta's sinking fastball is his bread and butter, sitting in the low 90s with mid 90s peaks. He flashes a plus curveball and his change-up has adequate moments but is still inconsistent. The secondary pitches have been troublesome since his promotion to Double-A. If everything comes around he could be a number four starter, but relief is his most likely destination at this point.