The third interview to be posted on this site (look out next week for an interview with Tyson Gillies and Cody Overbeck) comes from pitcher Jonathan Pettibone. The fourth best prospect in the Phillies’ system (according to Baseball America), Pettibone has raised many eyebrows with his play since 2008. A Florida State League allstar in 2011, Pettibone talks about how it feels to be so highly thought of and how he’s gained his success. At age 21, Pettibone will take the next step in 2012, as he will most likely be pitching in Class AA Reading.
PhightingOn: You’ve gained a lot of recognition lately, as Baseball America named you the 4th best prospect in the Phillies Organization. How does it feel to know that you are so highly touted, even at the young age of 21?
Jon Pettibone: I mean it’s definitely an honor, especially coming from an organization that is looked upon as one of the better, if not the best in the game. Highly touted, personally gives me a little extra motivation as I go forth with my offseason training and how I prepare for next year. Confidence wise it’s great to know they think highly of you, but also knowing they expect big things from you in the upcoming years.
PO: Baseball America also recognized you as having the “Best Control” of any pitcher within the Organization. Personally, what do you think your strongest asset is when it comes to pitching?
JP: Yes, control has always been a key to my success growing up through high school and on to pro ball. I’m a strong believer of not giving away free bases, as well as making them put the ball into play. I enjoy going deep into games, so with forcing the hitter to make contact early in the count gives me the opportunity to do so.
PO: You, alongside Trevor May, Brody Colvin and Julio Rodriguez, have been dubbed the “Baby Aces” for your ability and potential. How do you think you compare to your fellow aces, and what do you think of the title of “Baby Ace” in general?
JP: Well the “real aces” are by far the best in the game so maybe early in our careers it might be somewhat hard to compare but I do believe with the others you mentioned that we not only have success as a group, but we also compete against each other, trying to top one another. This is kind of a competitive edge you can say that we all have and I think it only helps us
PO: You had a great year in Clearwater last year, posting a 2.96 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. How do you plan to build upon your success in the future?
JP: Keeping it simple, staying with the same approach I’ve had success with in the past and continue to throw strikes, getting ahead of hitters and finishing hitters. It might be a little easier said than done, but for me getting ahead of the hitters has been a huge lift for me. Also, continuing to work on my off speed, more importantly fine tuning my slider.
PO: Next year you will be pitching for Class AA Reading, and history shows that the jump from A+ to AA ball is a big one. How are you preparing yourself for the more intense level of competition?
JP: Preparing myself currently by lifting and running all the time during the offseason. Going into my 4th spring training I know what I need to do in order to be in shape for spring training and not only that but in shape for a full season. So physically I will be prepared to last a full season healthy and reach my number of innings goal. Pitching wise I tend to build off a lot of the same ideas I mentioned before in the previous question. I think its going to be an exciting year and ready for the upcoming challenge.
PO: Your dad, Jay Pettibone, was also a professional baseball player, pitching most of his career in the Twin’s organization. What kind of knowledge has he passed down to you, and what role has he played in you making it as far as you have?
JP: Yes he definitely has played a roll to where I am at in my career. Growing up he was always my coach, from little league to travel ball and on up. He was the one who taught me how to pitch, mechanically and mentally. Pro ball he kind of backed off on all the coaching stuff, but now is a huge supporter and is always offering advice. He hasn’t watched all the games of mine as he would like to, being across the country and all, but I usually talk to him after all my starts by phone. He likes to know details on what pitches were working that night, how I felt, etc.