Petty ready to pitch without restrictions in '24

January 24th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon's Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

HAMILTON, Ohio -- No longer having extra-restricted pitch or inning counts thrills Reds right-handed pitching prospect Chase Petty as the 2024 season nears. 

“I should be ready to go, no leash applied," Petty said enthusiastically during a Reds Caravan stop in Hamilton.

Petty, who is the sixth-ranked prospect in the organization per MLB Pipeline, missed the first month of last season as the Reds were deliberate with him while he worked his way back from a right elbow strain sustained at the end of 2022. 

Once Petty recovered fully and started pitching for High-A Dayton last year, almost every 2023 start was four innings. The others were shorter if he reached his pitch limit.

"I knew I had to make the most of it, and that’s what I tried to do," he said.

Petty posted a 1.72 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 18 games and 68 innings for Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga. That gave him 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

“Honestly, with the conditions, I could not be more happy," said Petty, who turns 21 on April 4. "I feel like I showed what I can do, even in just a short stint. I’m just really happy that everything turned out well and I’m healthy, and I’m just ready to go for this year.”

Sixteen of Petty's 18 starts were with Dayton before a promotion to Chattanooga near the end of the season. Shawn Pender, who was the organization's vice president of player development the last five seasons, felt the Reds made a diligent decision in how they handled Petty last year.

"If you look at what he did in his limited time -- a lot of strikeouts, command and control," said Pender, who is now the senior advisor to president of baseball operations Nick Krall. "He needs to continue to develop his secondary weapons and the best way to attack left-handed hitting. He’s in Double-A. That’s a testament to him based on what he’s gone through."

Petty, who was acquired by Cincinnati in a trade with Minnesota for starting pitcher Sonny Gray on March 13, 2022, was the 26th overall pick by the Twins in the 2021 MLB Draft out of high school in Linwood, N.J. 

After the trade, Petty developed a changeup and learned it from fellow Minor League pitcher Alex Johnson while at Single-A Daytona. He also has a plus slider.

"He actually taught me the [changeup] grip. It’s just really worked ever since, and I just ran with it. It was really one of my best pitches last year," Petty said. “They were really good pitches that I could throw at any time, any count, and they just worked really well.”

Petty's power arm is still plenty effective. Pender said he's received reports that he's reached 98-99 mph with his four-seam fastball. When scouted in high school, Petty could reach triple-digit velocity. 

"He’ll still be on an innings limit like everybody else, but there’s not going to be a collar on him other than what we really want him to work through in his innings," Pender said. 

Unlike many power pitchers in the game, Petty's stuff comes from a smaller frame. Generously listed at 6-foot-1 by the Reds, he's drawn to other similar-sized pitchers.

Petty's favorite Major League pitcher is Marcus Stroman, who recently signed a two-year, $37 million contract with the Yankees. The devotion to Stroman runs so deep for Petty that he now sports a freshly inked tattoo of Stroman's likeness on his calf.

The tattoo -- which is still healing -- also includes Stroman's mantra, "Height doesn't measure heart."

"That’s kind of stuck with me my whole life. I’m not the biggest guy," Petty said. "Going into the Draft, my biggest knock was whether I might be an undersized reliever. I just wanted to shut that down as much as possible. He’s someone who inspired me to do that. I haven’t actually met him, but we talk over the phone quite a bit. He’s been my idol growing up.”

At Reds Spring Training, Petty will be in big league camp for the first time as a non-roster invitee.