Detroit Tigers Prospect RJ Petit Could Provide BIG Relief


MESA, AZ – We take you to the first two rows of seats behind home plate at an Arizona Fall League ballgame last month at HoHoKam Stadium.

“Look at the size of this relief pitcher,” said a golden-ager in the second row. “He’s enormous. He’s got to be 300 pounds!”

“Wow, he is huge,” said a younger lady in the first row. “He might be seven feet tall. Who is he?”

The guy checked his lineup list and laughed. “He’s 6-foot-8, 300 pounds and you are not going to believe this. His name is Petite!”

Several rows of folks started laughing. “C’mon you’re making that up,” said one.


Meet RJ Petit, the Detroit Tigers’ prospect just one “E” away from being a Petite 300-pounder.

He also appears to be just a few “little” refinements from becoming a big-leaguer.

Petit is not on many top prospect lists. How someone his size can fly under the radar is stunning. A smooth, easy pitching motion that produces a 98-mph fastball, however, put him on the Tigers’ scouting screen in 2021 and Detroit drafted him in the 14th round.

The right-hander got some notice in the Coastal Plain League in the summer of 2020, striking out 29 in 18 1/3 innings. He fanned all nine men he faced in one three-inning outing. Then it was back to Charleston Southern for his third collegiate season. Overall for the Buccaneers, he had a 9-5 record, 2.64 ERA and gave up only 96 hits in 126 1/3 innings.

Petit needs to get more bite on a slider that is currently too slurvy. The 24-year-old’s biggest potential asset could come from adding movement to a developing changeup. That would offset the a fastball that has good arm-side run and likely confound batters expecting explosive smoke from the big guy.

Putting in the needed work to do it is Petit’s calling card.

“I just want to be the best, not only the best I can, but the best out there,” he told his hometown newspaper The Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald back in 2018. If you beat me in a video game we’re playing again, just so I can show you that I’m better than you. If I work harder than people I know I’ll be able to do what I want to.”

In a later interview, he said, “Too many people try to compare themselves to someone else and that just isn’t healthy because no two people are the same. If I can work on things and get better at what I’m lacking in, the growth can be incredible.”

By Comparison

Petit is smart to avoid comparisons, but we’ll provide a few anyway. Upon first seeing the hefty hurler with drooping mustache, I immediately noted a remarkable resemblance to Tim Stoddard. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound reliever had helped the Baltimore Orioles win the 1983 World Series.

That made Stoddard the only player to win a World Series and NCAA basketball title. He was a forward on the 1973-74 North Carolina State team that included 7-foot-3 Tom Burleson, 5-foot-7 Monty Towe, the great 6-foot-4 David (Skywalker) Thompson and went 30-1. The loss was to mighty UCLA in the regular season. The Wolfpack beat the Bruins in a rematch in the NCAA Semifinals in double overtime and two nights later topped Marquette in the title game.

Only Kenny Lofton also played in an NCAA Final Four and the World Series — as a hoops guard at the University of Arizona and outfielder in the Fall Classic with the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants.

And, in the department of you can’t make this stuff up: both Stoddard and Lofton attended East Chicago Washington High School in Indiana. Incredible.

Stoddard pitched for six teams over 12 MLB seasons, making all 485 of his appearances in relief. He got 26 of his 76 career saves for Baltimore in 1980.

The Monstah

For his first four MLB seasons 60 years ago, Dick Radatz was a 6-foot-5, 260-pound relief ace called “The Monster” — pronounced “Monstah” by Boston Red Sox fans.

Radatz totaled 49 wins, 98 saves and a sub-.2.60 ERA from 1962 thru 1965. He averaged 68 appearances and 135 innings over that time, throwing a sinking fastball that allowed few hits and accumulated 608 strikeouts in an era when batters were embarrassed to go down swinging.

The workload was too much. He went 3-11 with a +5.00 ERA the rest of his career and was done at age 32.

Jumbo, Hippo and … Tiny?

Back in the day, players had more colorful nicknames. Therefore, 295-pound pitcher Walter Brown was called Jumbo from 1925 thru 1941 with five MLB teams. Left-hander James Vaughn became “Hippo” as his weight escalated from 214 as a New York Yankees rookie in 1908 to nearly 290 as a 20-game winner for the Chicago Cubs later in a 13-year career.

In the 1940s, Ernest Bonham was called Tiny despite being 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds pitching for the Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. His best year was 1942: 21-5, 2.27 ERA for the Yanks. Naturally, Tiny got a huge raise in salary, from $9,000 to $17,000!

A Heavyweight Legend

Terry Forster gained fame as he gained weight late in his career. The lefty was listed at 220 pounds with four teams over 16 seasons beginning in 1971. By 1985 with the Atlanta Braves, however, Forster weighed well past 270.

That’s when late-night TV smart aleck David Letterman showed a clip of Forster and off-handedly remarked: “What’s the deal with this fat tub of goo?”

Letterman later apologized and invited Forster to the show. The reliever came well-armed with a “David Letterman Sandwich,” a giant concoction that included what he called, “lots of tongue.” Forster cooked tacos on the set and talked about bribing fans to go get him hot dogs during games in exchange for autographed baseballs.

Clearly, Forster enjoyed chewing the fat with Letterman.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Enable Google Transliteration.(To type in English, press Ctrl+g)