Petricka Puts Secondary Stuff First For White Sox
CHICAGO—Jacob Petricka is aware that recent high draft picks have advanced quickly through the White Sox system.
In order to follow in the footsteps of 2008 first-round pick Gordon Beckham and 2010 selections Chris Sale and Addison Reed, Petricka understands he must take care of his health and polish his repertoire of pitches.
"If I fine-tune my offspeed, there's no limit to what could happen," said Petricka, a second-rounder in 2010 out of Indiana State. "But first, I got to take care of my business before I can ask them to do anything."
Petricka, whose fastball has been clocked up to the mid-90s, would like to sharpen his breaking pitch. He went 7-8, 3.65 in 23 games last season at Rookie-level Bristol, low Class A Kannapolis and high Class A Winston-Salem, then worked in relief for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League.
"It's been the same issue all year," Petricka said of his breaking pitch. "It's just not consistent enough, especially for my liking. It's coming, it's just a timing thing. Once it clicks, things will be good."
The White Sox were careful to monitor Petricka's innings in his first full professional season because he had Tommy John surgery in 2007. He then threw 100 innings in college and another 45 for Bristol and Kannapolis in 2010.
Those cautions loomed larger when the 6-foot-5 Petricka had discomfort in a back muscle that sidelined him for more than a month. Petricka said the injury stemmed from pitching off a mound flatter than he was used to at Hagerstown (he lasted just 1 2⁄3 innings in his final low Class A start at the Suns).
"Because it wasn't arm-related, it was a huge relief," Petricka said.
Farm director Buddy Bell said the organization still projects Petricka as a starting pitcher and that his relief role in the AFL was merely to curb his workload. But Petricka realizes he has to improve his offspeed pitches.
"Right now, my offspeed stuff is mediocre, at best," Petricka said. "I'll do the best I can, and whatever they tell me to do, I'll do."
• Righthander Greg Infante, one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the system, walked 12 batters and allowed 16 hits in his first 15 innings for LaGuaira in the Venezuelan League.
• Kyle Long, unsigned 23rd-round pick out of high school in 2008, will play football at Oregon. The son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, Kyle opted to play baseball at Florida State in '08. He left after one semester, though, and spent 2010-11 playing football at Saddleback (Calif.) JC.