Pretty cool NY Times article on Petit:
NY Times wrote:With This Mets Prospect, Size Is Not What Matters
By LEE JENKINS
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Feb. 19 - The first thing most people notice about Yusmeiro Petit is that he is not, as his surname suggests, petite.
One of his minor league managers compares him with Sid Fernandez, the portly left-hander who spent 10 seasons with the Mets. One of Petit's coaches has playfully called him "a jumbo shrimp." One of his teammates said, "I think we're going to have to get him a new last name."
Petit (pronounced pe-TEET), a right-hander, is listed at 6 feet and 230 pounds - 3 inches shorter than Mike Piazza and 15 pounds heavier. When Petit reported to his first major league spring training workout Saturday, a couple of Mets assumed he was a young slugger.
Petit is actually considered among the best pitching prospects in minor league baseball, and he is probably one of the biggest. He led the minors last season in strikeouts per nine innings. He played at three different levels and made the Mets temporarily forget about Scott Kazmir, the top-rated pitching prospect they traded to Tampa Bay in July.
Petit, 20, is almost a year younger than Kazmir and posted better statistics in the low minor leagues. He struck out 20 batters in 12 1/3 innings at Class A Brooklyn, recorded 122 strikeouts and just 22 walks at Class A Kingsport and went three consecutive games at Class A St. Lucie with at least 10 strikeouts. As a reward, Petit was promoted to Class AA Binghamton and invited to major league spring training.
"It's incredible to be here," Petit, a Venezuelan, said through an interpreter Saturday. "I don't expect to make the major leagues this season. I'm just very happy the organization has noticed what I have done."
His locker is in the same row Kazmir's occupied a year ago, which is fitting because Petit will have to live with the same expectations. Kazmir was a first-round draft choice out of high school, nicknamed Kid K. Petit was signed out of Venezuela when he was 16 and played on the same club team as the Minnesota Twins' Johan Santana, last season's American League Cy Young award winner.
Kazmir and Petit are strikeout artists, but they sneak fastballs past hitters in much different ways. Kazmir throws substantially harder than his 170-pound frame would seem to allow. Petit is the opposite. Despite his formidable physique, he rarely throws the ball faster than 90 miles an hour. Petit's success is rooted in his control and the late movement on his pitches.
"He's not an overpowering guy, but his ball has so much late life, so much movement in the hitting zone, it can make you look pretty bad," said Rafael Bournigal, director of international scouting for the Mets. "He's able to keep that velocity because he's got those big strong legs. That's one of his biggest strengths, using those legs."
In the two games Petit pitched for Binghamton last season, catcher Joe Hietpas watched a string of opposing batters whiff on 88-m.p.h. fastballs. Puzzled, Hietpas started to quiz the batters on how hard they thought Petit was throwing. "Everyone guessed 95 miles per hour," he said. "I can't explain what he does out there, but guys cannot pick up the ball. They're completely deceived."
Even the Mets' most avid followers have been fooled by Petit's rapid progression. A year ago, he was barely mentioned among the organization's minor leaguers. The club drafted Philip Humber out of Rice University and signed Alay Soler from Cuba to restock its pool of young pitchers. Then Petit was invited to play at the Futures Game in Houston during the major league All-Star Game break. The Mets sent only one other player to the game, the third-base prospect David Wright, who was soon brought up to the majors.
"It has all happened quickly for him," said Mets starting pitcher Victor Zambrano, obtained when the team sent Kazmir to the Devil Rays. Zambrano is from Venezuela and watched Petit pitch in winter games.
"When I went home this winter, everyone was talking about him," he said.
Around the Mets' training camp, Petit is not so much a subject of conversation as he is an object of interest, a finesse pitcher in a cleanup hitter's body. After Petit polished off a bowl of strawberries Saturday, he was asked if his weight became a burden late in games. He shook his head vigorously. "I don't feel that's the case at all," Petit said. "My size helps me with my stamina and keeps me strong late in games."
The Mets have developed a handful of elite pitching prospects over the past 20 years - from Dwight Gooden to Kazmir - and alternated between promoting them and protecting them. That Petit's photograph is still missing from the Mets' media guide should help disguise him for a while longer. That he is one of the few Hispanic players on the team who does not speak English should keep his sound bites to a minimum.
Petit is still slotted to start this season in Binghamton and is probably a couple of years from the majors, but he has already outpaced such timetables. His development, measured in pounds and strikeouts, has taken him to the brink of the big time.
Last edited by Amazinz on Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.