Feb 16, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Zach Petrick (75) throws during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Under the Radar: Zach Petrick

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Our Under the Radar series looks at players who may not be considered top prospects but could make some contributions to their big league club at some point this year.

If you read the title and said to yourself, “who is Zach Petrick,” I wouldn’t blame you. Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cardinals in 2012, according to Jenifer Langosch, Petrick was expecting to be drafted but actually had one of his worst games of the season for his University of Northwestern Ohio club with plenty of scouts in the house, getting hit hard on May 2, 2012, pitching against the Davenport Panthers and giving up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk.

Despite that blowup, which eliminated the Pacers from Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament, Cardinals’ scout Brian Hopkins saw something that he liked in Petrick and the Cardinals decided to let him go undrafted and try to sign him afterwards. Getting the offer just days before he was going to try out with some independent league teams, Petrick signed with the Cards and he began his professional career.

The 6’3″ righty was sent to the Advanced-Rookie Appalachian League where he excelled, striking out over five batters per walk and giving up less than one base runner per inning. In 2013, Petrick had a metoric rise through the Cardinals’ system, posting a sub-2.00 ERA over three levels, culminating in nine starts with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League. While his K/BB ratio dropped from the lofty heights he had reached at lower levels, it was still excellent, coming in at just under 3.00. That performance earned Petrick the Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award and an invite to major league spring training this year.

While Petrick has his work cut out for him to get to the major leagues, mainly because of the Cardinals’ depth, he could very well bring his arsenal to the bigs by the end of the season if a need arises. With a three-pitch mix of a low-90s fastball (that hits 94 mph), curveball and changeup, Petrick could either start or relieve in a pinch as he’s done both at the minor league level.

Remember the name because Petrick could end up in the bigs by year’s end.

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Tags: St. Louis Cardinals Zach Petrick

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