Baseball America, a biweekly magazine that focuses on the top high school, college and minor league players, released its ranking of the Washington Nationals' top 10 prospects Dec. 19.
Coming in at No. 10 on the list is right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta. He's the fifth-highest rated pitcher in the Nationals' farm system, according to Baseball America, so here are five things fans should about the 21-year-old British Columbia native.
1. HE WAS A MEMBER OF THE 18U CANADIAN NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM
From 2009-11, Pivetta was a member of the Canadian junior national team and appeared in a number of big games for the team. During the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship hosted by Canada, Pivetta earned a four-out save against Team Korea to clinch the championship. With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning for Korea, Pivetta entered the game and forced Korea's cleanup hitter to ground out to end the frame. He then tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to lock down the victory.
2. HE PLAYED HIS COLLEGE BALL AT NEW MEXICO JUNIOR COLLEGE FROM 2012-13 BEFORE DRAFTED BY THE NATIONALS
In two seasons at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M., Pivetta went a combined 13-3 with a 3.94 ERA and completed nine games in 24 starts. During 12 starts as a freshman, he went 4-1 with a 4.83 ERA in 54 innings while working his way back from a ulnar collateral ligament injury that cost him his entire senior year of high school. As a sophomore, Pivetta took advantage of being fully recovered from that injury, going 9-2 with a 3.36 ERA and tossing six complete games during 13 starts. Pivetta signed a letter intent to play at the University of New Mexico in September 2013, but he spurned the Lobos and signed with the Nationals for $364,000 after being selected during the fourth round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
3. HE HAD MIXED RESULTS DURING HIS FIRST FULL SEASON AS A PROFESSIONAL
Pivetta made his professional debut July 13, 2013, with the Gulf Coast League Nationals and ended the season with Single-A Auburn of the short-season New York-Penn League. He appeared in nine games and compiled a 1-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and 25 strikeouts during 34 innings. He followed that up during his first full season of minor league ball with the Hagerstown Suns -- the Nationals' low Single-A affiliate -- of the South Atlantic League with mixed results. While Pivetta won a team-high 13 games, he also had a 4.22 ERA, surrendered 142 hits and issued 39 walks during 132.1 innings. In two postseason starts, Pivetta went 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA. He started the fifth and decisive game of the South Atlantic League championship game against Asheville, yielding four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out five during five innings for a loss.
4. HE WON SOUTH ATLANTIC PITCHER OF THE WEEK HONOROS FOR THE WEEK SPANNING JUNE 16-22
Thanks to one of his strongest outings of the season against the Greensboro Grasshoppers June 20, Pivetta garnered South Atlantic Pitcher of the Week honors for the week spanning June 16-22. He tossed six hitless innings, allowing one unearned run on one walk while striking out two to earn his then-league leading ninth victory of the season. Hagerstown third baseman Drew Ward was named the league's Player of the Week the same week, marking the second time during team history the Suns swept the South Atlantic League's weekly awards. The first time the feat was accomplished was the week of May 7-13, 2007, when outfielder Justin Maxwell won Player of the Week and Justin Jones earned Pitcher of the Week.
5. HE'S A POWER PITCHER
Standing at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Pivetta possess a lanky frame that has allowed him to overpower hitters at times with a mid-90s fastball, a wicked curveball and an improving changeup. That assortment of pitches has helped Pivetta keep opposing hitters off balance as he has racked up 123 strikeouts during 166.1 innings in the minor leagues for a strikeout per innings rate of 7.4. Pivetta could be a starter in the majors if he continues developing his changeup as a consistent third pitch, but if he's unable to, he could be a late-inning flamethrower out of the Nationals' bullpen for manager Matt Williams sometime in the near future.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT PIVETTA:
CHELSEA JANES, THE WASHINGTON POST:
"At 6-5, 220 pounds, Pivetta has one of those 'projectable bodies,' as prospect gurus call them, frames long enough to create leverage and powerful enough to make it count. With such a lanky frame, syncing up mechanics is sometimes a problem, but when Pivetta maintains a consistent plane to the plate, he's got a mid-90s fastball and big-breaking curve." [Full article]
ALLAN SIMPSON, CANADIAN BASEBALL NETWORK:
"The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Pivetta was just another arm as a freshman at New Mexico JC in 2012, when he went an undistinguished 4-1, 4.83 with 22 walks and 29 strikeouts in 54 innings. But with an extra year under his belt after sitting out his senior season of competition in 2011 while in high school in Victoria, B.C., with what was determined to be a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Pivetta was a different pitcher when he returned to school last fall for his sophomore year. All of a sudden, his fastball consistently registered 91-95 mph, peaking at 97, and he had little trouble reaching those elevated levels with a clean delivery and easy arm action, or hitting his spots while also getting solid-average sinking action on his fastball. He also flashed an average curve after being predominantly a fastball/changeup pitcher as a freshman." [Full article]
TOM SCHAD, MLB.COM:
"At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Pivetta has an ideal pitcher's frame. The righty also has the stuff to back it up, including a fastball that reaches the high-90s in relief appearances, but mostly sits in the low-90s during starts. Pivetta also throws a solid curveball, which could be an above-average pitch in the future, and an inconsistent changeup." [Full article]