Roberto Petagine Scouting Report
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 15, 2006
Everybody seems to be talking about Roberto Petagine, the 34-year-old Dominican-born first baseman in camp with the Seattle Mariners this spring.
After spending nine seasons in the U.S. and six in Japan, Petagine returned to Major League Baseball last season as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Petagine is tearing up the Cactus League thus far, but who is this guy and where did he come from?
I recently spoke to a player development director, a VP of international scouting and two area scouts about Petagine to get the scoop on him. But first a little background.
Roberto Antonio Petagine Guerra (pronounced Peta-jee-nee) was born June 2, 1971 in Nueva Esparita, Dominican Republic. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Houston Astros in 1990 and immediately displayed his natural plate skills in his first taste of pro ball.
He put together solid seasons at the plate at age 19, 20 and 21, starting in rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League and progressing from level to level, year by year.
In 1993 at Double-A Jackson, the left-handed batting Petagine put himself on the map with a .334/.442/.529 showing where he hit 15 homers and 36 doubles as a 22-year-old. His 89-84 K/BB ratio was a sign that he could handle himself at the plate, be consistent and make the pitcher work.
He followed that up with solid 65-game stint in Triple-A Tucson where he slugged .514, earning him a short call-up to Houston. As an Astro in 1994, he received just seven at-bats and went hitless before the strike ended the season in August.
In December of that year, the Astros sent him to San Diego with Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley and three other players, for Derek Bell, Doug Brocail and four other players.
Petagine began the 1995 season in Class AAA Las Vegas, but received 152 big-league plate appearances with the parent club, hitting just .234/.367/.371 in spot duty.
He was then shipped to the New York Mets during spring training of 1996 and spent the majority of the next two seasons in AAA Norfolk where he hit 318/.416/.529 and .317/.431/.605 in a pitcher-friendly environment in the International League. Petagine was 26 and 27 at the time and did get 113 PAs with the Mets in 1996 and 18 more in 1997.
His big-league results were mediocre, and he was traded again in February of 1998, this time to Cincinnati. Again stuck in AAA for the first 22 weeks, Petagine shredded IL pitching to the tune of a .331/.440/.617 clip, earning him 62 big-league ABs where he hit well for the first time in the show. But his .258/.405/.468 line wasn't enough to convince the Reds that he was useful and GM Jim Bowden agreed to sell his rights to the Yakult Swallows of Japan's Central League.
Petagine proceeded to hit 243 home runs in six seasons, including 44 in '99 and 41 in 2002.
Prior to last spring, the 6-1, 225-pounder returned to the U.S. at age 33 and hit .327/.452/.635 in Pawtucket, the Boston Red Sox's AAA affiliate.
Petagine hit 20 homers and tallied 18 doubles in just 74 games. Boston called him up and he went on to hit .281/.361/.438 with a home run and nine RBI in just 32 scattered ABs.
In his minor league career, plus Japan, Petagine hit 361 home runs and put together an impressive K/BB ratio that is nearly even.
He will strikeout a bit, but he also draws walks and isn't the whiff master that Richie Sexson has always been. Petagine's non-MLB numbers look a lot more like those of Edgar Martinez. Some K's, some walks, some power.
Scouting Scale –
Hitting: 60 — can get to 65 (.280+/.350+)
Power: 60 — can get to 65 (approx. 25 homers, .500 SLG)
Strengths: Petagine handles himself like the veteran he is and is a smart hitter that has the physical skills to be effective versus ML pitching. Has a natural left-handers swing and can spray the ball enough to take away a pitcher's gameplan.
Had trouble with the hard stuff as a younger player but has improved his pitch recognition over the years and learned how to attack his pitch while playing in Japan.
Can field at first, is better than Sexson, and is a good bet to outperform Carl Everett at the plate while having some value defensively.
Weaknesses: At 34, Petagine knows what he is and what he can and can't do on the field. He can fall in love with deep counts and let good, hittable pitches go by and can be quite streaky.
He doesn't run that well, but isn't a slug, either. At a slightly advanced age he possesses slightly below average speed.
2006 Projection: (Tacoma) – .306/.422/.566, 28 HR, 95 RBI, 88 BB, 90 K in 128 G
(Seattle, PT) – .277/.352/.454, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 33 BB, 45 K in 89 G
(Seattle, FT) – .279/.360/.456, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 69 BB, 79 K in 131 G