Twins first-round pick Chase Petty prepares for first full professional season
The 18-year-old, whom the Twins selected with the No. 26 pick in last year’s draft, threw five innings across two games for the Twins’ Rookie League affiliate in 2021.
Chase Petty’s life changed almost in an instant last summer.
One moment, he was a high school student, living in New Jersey, committed to play baseball at the University of Florida. A short while later, he was a professional baseball player with a $2.5 million signing bonus in his bank account, adjusting to life at the Minnesota Twins’ complex in Florida and an entirely new reality.
The 18-year-old, whom the Twins selected with the No. 26 pick in last year’s draft, got his first taste of professional baseball last summer when the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher threw five innings across two games for the Twins’ Rookie League affiliate. Now, he’s gearing up for his first full season as a minor leaguer.
While he didn’t see much game action in 2021, there was plenty for the 18-year-old, to absorb and adjust to. There still is.
“Really just being a professional baseball player,” Petty said about what he learned. “Really just cleaning up everything off the field and on the field. Just clean up the act and having the mindset of a big-leaguer because that’s the goal, that’s the dream. … Really this offseason was kind of developing that mindset that this is going to be a grind and you have to prepare yourself for it. I’m ready for it.”
As he heads into the 2022 season, Petty is working with Twins coaches on cleaning up his pitching delivery to help relieve some stress and prevent injuries in the future. He also is working on “perfecting what we need to perfect” — namely, the sinker, changeup and slider, he said.
In the process, he has impressed Twins higher-ups, including director of player development Alex Hassan, who has liked what he’s seen from the teenager since he joined the organization.
Petty’s fastball sat around 94-97 miles per hour, topping out at 99 as a starter in high school. He first hit 100 mph as a 17-year-old. But he’s shown he’s more than just a flamethrower.
“I’ve heard the perception among high school players who throw hard that they just want to go out there and blow it out, and it’s a spectacle to see how hard he can throw, but I think he’s got more touch and more feel than that typical profile,” Hassan said.
Hassan said the Twins also have been impressed with Petty’s ability to be routine-oriented, especially for a player coming straight from high school. Typically for a player coming from that level, Hassan said, they might be trying to emphasize crafting a weight room or on-field routine.
With Petty, he had a lot of his routine down pat coming in, Hassan said.
It’s something Petty said he developed as a sophomore in high school when he decided he needed to put in the time and effort to get to the professional level. And it’s only gotten refined with time.
“I feel like that has transitioned over here, and it’s gotten better because I’m around more professionals over here,” Petty said from Fort Myers. “I’m around all professionals over here in reality. Everyone that’s here, all the older guys that put it in your head that even if you slack off just a little bit, they will get on you, so I mean It’s nice having that around you because a lot of the time, it is what you need.”
Now, he’ll have a chance to take that routine and put it into action for a full professional season, which will present a challenge far different than anything he has undertaken thus far.
As for where that journey will start, Hassan said that’s still up in the air. The Twins first will assess what shape he’s in and how he performs this spring to see if he’s ready to be sent out to an affiliate at the start of the year or if he’ll stay at the complex for extended spring.
No matter where he starts, the objective is simple for Petty.
“Obviously (the goal is) to have the best season possible for myself and move up the ranks as much as I possibly can, whether that be finishing the season in Low-A, High-A, wherever that may be,” Petty said. “Just pushing myself to have the best season I possibly can.”