District On Deck Prospect Profile: Nick Pivetta


Whether it was top prospect Lucas Giolito or 21-year-old Reynaldo Lopez, the Hagerstown Suns in the South Atlantic League had a ERA of 3.74, which was fifth in the league. Like Lopez, the pitcher that I am going to profile barely made the top 20 Washington Nationals’ prospect lists for 2014 on MLB Pipeline, but this is another pitcher that was Hagerstown last year that deserves some recognition considering he was number 18 on that list. 

21-year-old Nick Pivetta was selected by the Nats in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of New Mexico Junior College. The right-hander, who will turn 22 on Saturday, was born in Canada (British Columbia) and did play for the Canadian Junior National team. In 13 starts at junior college, Pivetta went 9-2 with a 3.36 ERA and threw six complete games.

When you look at Pivetta’s numbers, one of the things that stand out, especially at the minor league level, is the innings jump he took in 2014. After throwing a combined 34 innings in rookie and short-season ball, Pivetta threw almost 100 innings more for low-A Hagerstown (132.1 innings). That amount of innings led the team and made him 11th in the SAL in innings pitched.

Last season, the right-hander did win pitcher of the week in June and was chosen to be in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. He earned it with his solid first half of the season. During those 12 appearances (11 starts), he went 8-3 with a 3.95 ERA. This included a 4-0 record with a 2.01 ERA in six starts during the month of May where he struck out 19 batters and walked a batter per game.

Overall, he went 13-8 with a 4.22 ERA in 26 starts. His 13 wins were the third most of any pitcher in the league. In fact, he pitched into the sixth inning or later in eight of his 26 starts and had six starts of six or more strikeouts.

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Of course, the walks have to be of some concern when you notice that Pivetta’s 39 walks were second on the Suns’ team behind Jake Johansen (55). After the All-Star Break, he gave up 12 more runs than he did in the first half in two more starts (14). Plus, he walked 17 batters in the second half of the season.

That being said, this is a pitcher that when you see the scouting reports on him, you see the reasons why the Nationals took him as early as they did in the draft. He is a three-pitch pitcher with a fastball that can get up the mid-late 90’s in velocity. He also has a curveball and a changeup, but the strength of his game seems to be his fastball.

If Pivetta can get his secondary pitches to match his fastball, it will allow him to cut down on the walks and the team-high 15 home runs he gave up a season ago. He has potential, as evidenced by his number ten ranking in the Nationals’ system, according to Baseball America.

While he may not be as close to the big leagues as a Giolito or a Lopez, this is a pitcher that should be joining those two in High-A and could be in the majors within the next three or four years.

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