Missouri State's Pierce Johnson generated first-round buzz earlier this spring, but the Bears' most consistent pitcher in 2012 has actually been redshirt sophomore righthander Nick Petree, who leads the nation in ERA at 0.77.
Petree is riding an incredible hot streak: He hasn't allowed an earned run in 49 1/3 consecutive innings over seven starts, dating back to March 2. He threw six shutout innings at Wichita State last week, allowing just four hits and striking out nine, as the Bears shut out the Shockers in Wichita for the first time ever. That performance improved Petree to 8-2 on the season with 67 strikeouts and 22 walks in 70 innings.
"It's unreal," Shockers pitching coach Brent Kemnitz said of Petree's streak. "He wasn't on top of his game against us. In the first inning he touched 87 a couple of times, but late in the game he was 83. He's got a lot of movement, a tight slider and a really good changeup. He just competes. You've got to tip your hat to him; he keeps making pitches and getting outs."
Petree has been carving hitters up recently despite pitching through a herniation in a forearm muscle, which hampers his velocity a bit, but doctors say he can't hurt himself worse by pitching with it. He might wind up taking the summer off to address the injury. At his best, he works in the 86-89 range, but he has good enough movement and feel for pitching to win with less velocity.
"He's so intense and smart, he can analyze situations on the fly and figure his way out," Missouri State pitching coach Paul Evans said. "He has a very good changeup and a feel for mixing and commanding his pitches. He's very similar to (former Bears star and current Diamondbacks reliever) Brad Ziegler. Brad wasn't a submariner like he is now when he was here. They both are so smart and have such good feel for pitching and intangibles, and they both have very, very good changeups. Nick can flat pitch."
Petree had Tommy John surgery the summer before he arrived at Missouri State in the fall of 2009, and he started last season in middle relief. But by March, he had established himself as Missouri State's best pitcher. He forced his way into the Friday starter role on March 25 and went on to finish the season 9-2, 2.81. Last summer, he wanted to stay close to home, so he pitched for the Sedalia Bombers in the MINK League, where he ranked as the circuit's top prospect after posting a 0.27 ERA.
Petree excels at pounding the zone with all his pitches. He mixes in a cutter and a slurve to go with his fastball and outstanding changeup.
"He can get strikeouts when he needs to, or pitch to contact," Evans said. "He was talking to a freshman on our team, telling him, 'You've got to learn how to set up hitters.' He really knows what he's doing."
Contributing: Jim Callis
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog