Minor league notes on Pettit, Zagone and Bundy

Even though he doesn’t seem to get much publicity and is not considered by the experts to be among the Orioles best pitching prospects, lefty Jake Pettit was off to a strong start in his first year at Double-A Bowie. But now he is on the disabled list.

Pettit felt some elbow soreness after his most recent start on Friday, May 4 against Akron. He is 3-0 with an ERA of 3.90 in six Baysox starts.

He had an ERA of just 1.57 through four starts, then gave up 10 earned runs in 9 1/3 his past two starts, a possible indication that something wasn’t right with that elbow.

Here’s hoping it is nothing serious and for now. O’s officials say Pettit is not getting an MRI and that he will miss perhaps two or three starts and then they will re-evaluate his situation.

Pettit put himself on the radar late last year, going 7-0 with an ERA of 1.62 in 10 starts for Single-A Frederick and he also pitched well for the Keys in the playoffs. Not bad for a pitcher that wasn’t selected until round 42 of the 2010 draft out of Western Oregon State College.

“Pettit has done a very good job for us,” Bowie pitching coach Kennie Steenstra said. “Talking to Blaine Beatty (his pitching coach last year with Frederick) he said. ‘You’re really going to like this guy. He attacks hitters and he’s not afraid of anyone and has a real good changeup.’

“That is what I’ve seen so far. He’s not going to light up the radar gun, but he’s got enough to get people out and having a very good changeup like he does he keeps guys (off-balance) front to back very well. He does a nice job of adding and subtracting off both his fastball and his changeup. He’s been pretty impressive so far.”

Pettit’s changeup is considered by some scouts as already above major league average.

“Absolutely. He’s able to even change speeds with that pitch some, so even when guys see him a second or third time they still don’t get a good read on it. He really keeps guys off balance,” Steenstra said.

One thing that works against Pettit with some analysts and scouts is that radar gun and his lack of strikeouts. He has fanned 15 batters over 32 1/3 innings for Bowie. Steenstra doesn’t feel any lack of velocity will hold Pettit back though and, in fact, has seen him hit 90 mph plus several times.

“He adds and subtracts a lot. I’ve seen him as high as 92 mph here but the comfort level is probably 87, 88 and when he throws his two-seamer, that can be 84, 85. He changes speeds pretty drastically from top to bottom,” Steenstra said.

“If you had him at a tryout camp and asked him to throw as hard as he could he would probably throw 90, 92 over and over again, but that’s not his game. He’s got a good feel for what he is trying to do on the mound. He can hump up when he wants to and put some extra on it. But he relies on movement and deception more.”

Steenstra said the lack of strikeouts is not a big deal to him.

“The hitters tell you what they see. He hasn’t had a lot of good swings off him,” Steenstra said. “Teams have not squared him up very much. Could he continue that in Triple-A or the big leagues? It’s hard for me to say right now. He does have some things to improve on, but strikeouts to me are not a huge issue as long as he can pitch in to the right-handers to keep them off that changeup.

“I think he will be fine. It’s a maturation process for him as he keeps moving up.”

Props to Zagone: A tip of the cap should go to Orioles minor league lefty Rick Zagone. Triple-A Norfolk needed a starter on late notice Sunday and Zagone was sent to make that start on short notice. He flew into Indianapolis on Sunday morning, arriving at the ballpark less than two hours before first pitch.

Then he went out and threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings on three hits and 87 pitches. Zagone, Bobby Stevens and Ty Kelly were sent from Frederick to join Norfolk for a few days, in part because the Orioles could not get players from Richmond, where Bowie played this weekend, to Indy in time for Sunday’s game.

This all could lead to more minor league roster shuffling this week as the three players leave Norfolk and three others join that club. It seems fair to ask if Miguel Tejada could possibly be added to the Tides roster this week. He is currently playing at extended spring training after asking the Orioles for a tryout.

Bundy ball tonight: Meanwhile, Dylan Bundy will make his seventh pro start tonight for Delmarva at home against Lakewood. Bundy is scheduled to pitch five innings for the first time. He has allowed just two hits and one unearned run over his first 20 innings with two walks and 33 strikeouts for the Shorebirds.

Barring a late change of plans, he still appears likely to make at least three more starts for Delmarva. At that point, he could be promoted to Frederick. The Orioles have not announced any of this yet and have only said they will re-evaluate Bundy after three five-inning starts for the Shorebirds.

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