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MLB Rookie Profile: Nick Pivetta, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies rookie made his first MLB start but lost. What can we expect for the future?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the Philadelphia Phillies promoted right-handed pitching prospect Nick Pivetta to the major league roster. He started against the Los Angeles Dodgers and gave up two runs in five innings of work, giving up an unfortunate nine hits but fanning five against only one walk. The Phillies lost but it was a credible opening to Pivetta’s MLB career. Let’s take a look.

Originally in the Washington Nationals system, Pivetta was drafted in the fourth round in 2013 from New Mexico Junior College, then traded to the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon in ‘15. He was very effective in the high minors last season, ranking 12th on the Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 prospects for 2017 list pre-season, with the following commentary:

12) Nick Pivetta, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, fourth round pick in 2013 by Nationals from New Mexico Junior College, traded to Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon in ’15; posted 3.27 ERA in 149 innings between Double-A and Triple-a with 138/51 K/BB, 128 hits; plus fastball with 90-95 velocity and good movement; mixes in curve, change-up; throws a bit harder than (Ben) Lively but secondary pitches and command aren’t as refined; another potential fourth starter but could also look good in bullpen. ETA late 2017.

The ETA was bumped up from “late 2017” to “early 2017” thanks to his excellent opening salvos for Triple-A Lehigh Valley: 0.95 ERA in 19 innings over three starts with a terrific 24/2 K/BB ratio.

Pivetta is listed at 6-5, 220, born February 14th, 1993, in Victoria, British Columbia. The pre-season scouting report is more or less still correct, although it underplays his velocity a bit: he was up to 97 MPH yesterday with his four-seamer. He mixes in a hard curve that some sources call a slider, and has made enough progress with his previously so-so change-up to give hope that he can remain a starter. Pivetta has made considerable strides with his command, and while some scouts worry about his arm action, he has been very durable to this point of his career.

I think Pivetta is an under-rated prospect who could end up being quite effective as a number four starter, and perhaps even more down the line if his health holds up.