St. Louis Cardinals Former Prospect Friday: Nick Petree


Every Friday, we’ll be looking back at a player who was at one point on MLB Pipeline’s list of top Cardinals prospects, but for some reason or another never made it to the major leagues. Today we look at a player who rapidly ascended into star prospect status, then fell off just as quickly.

Nick Petree

Ranked as the Cardinals #17 prospect in 2014

Nick Petree, a ninth-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 draft, always relied more on his production than his raw stuff as he ascended up the baseball ranks. He was the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year in 2012 at Missouri State University in 2012, finishing that season with a 1.01 ERA.

With that said, he was never a prototypical starting pitcher prospect, standing at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds with a fastball that sat in the high 80s and topped out in the low 90s.

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Especially since he was a righthander, Petree was eventually going to have to find a pitch besides his dominant changeup to help him stay unpredictable.

Petree was already behind the eight-ball somewhat when he started his pro career, being drafted as a 23-year-old redshirt senior. He quickly showed that that wouldn’t be too much of an issue, though, as he posted a 1.62 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and .230 opponent batting average in 12 games (nine starts) for the short-season State College Spikes in 2013.

With those early results, Petree’s prospect status skyrocketed, earning him a spot on’s top Cardinals prospects list in 2014.

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He continued to thrive in his first full pro season, pitching well enough at Class A Peoria (1.29 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .200 opponent average over his first four starts) that he was promoted to High-A Palm Beach in early May. He kept dominating there, posting a 2.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .250 opponent average over 17 starts.

Petree’s first real adversity came in his first game in the upper minors, which came at Double-A Springfield in his final start of 2014. Over 4 2/3 innings, Petree gave up 10 hits and a walk, allowing seven runs (five earned). That was a bad way to end the season, and it seemed to affect his confidence heading into 2015 (or if you subscribe to the “players are robots” train of thought, he just wasn’t cut out for the upper minors).

Over 10 starts to begin the season at Springfield, Petree struggled mightily. He posted a 4.64 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, both of which were the worst numbers he’d ever posted in those categories while staying at a level for an extended period. His walk total (15 in 54 1/3 innings) came close to matching his previous season totals, and he began to allow contact (.318 opponent average) at a much higher rate than ever before. Petree was placed on Springfield’s disabled list on May 31, and his return on June 22 was met with a demotion back to Palm Beach.

Over the remainder of 2015, Petree was generally solid, though his effectiveness decreased over each month. Over 12 appearances (11 starts), Petree posted a 3.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .246 opponent average in 67 1/3 innings.

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Petree, who was already a Tommy John success story when he started his pro career, having undergone the operation during his freshman year at Missouri State, found out that he’d need a second Tommy John surgery after the 2015 season. Doctors told Petree that his UCL tear had gradually occurred over the course of the season, explaining his gradually decreasing effectiveness. He announced his retirement from baseball in February of this year. KOLR 10 in Springfield did a feature on Petree’s injury struggles earlier this summer, which sheds some light into why Petree walked away from the game.