Andy Pettitte, left handed starting pitcher, was drafted in the 22nd round in the 1990 First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees out of his high school in Deer Park, Texas. Andy did not sign with the Yankees that season and instead decided he would go to a junior college which, you may or may not know, allows you to get drafted every season rather then having to play two seasons of college baseball before being eligible again for the draft. Also, as the rules have since changed, no other team could talk to Andy Pettitte nor sign him until a day before the next year's draft because he did not sign with the Yankees. It did not matter anyway as Andy signed with the Yankees the very next season, in 1991, as an amateur free agent for $80,000 which was a nice bonus at that time. Andy turned down a chance to pitch for perennial powerhouse University of Texas to travel to New York.
Pettitte made his pro debut in 1991 going 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in 6 Gulf Coast League (GCL) starts followed by a 2-2 record with a 2.18 era in the New York Penn League (NYPL). Those two levels combined Pettitte had 83 K's and 24 BB's for nearly a 4-1 ratio, which is amazing. His command was very impressive but his velocity and "stuff" were considered nothing more then average.
Throughout the minors his walk rates got better and better but his K/9 rate got worse and worse. While he showed all the way through the system that he could get advanced hitters out no one was every crazy about Pettitte due to his strike outs. He never once did rank as a Top 10 prospect in any league that he played in because of the low strike out rates and Pettitte projected to be a back end of the rotation starter due to his strike out issues. Pettitte was never graded higher then a "B" graded prospect in his entire minor league career but he had an uncanny ability to hammer the strike zone, keep batters off balance with his off speed stuff, and give his team a chance to win every single time out there.
I think that his career, if it ended today, ended up being pretty good and was borderline Hall of Fame worthy. Let's start with where, in my opinion, he really made a name for himself and that was the post season. Who can forget the Game 5 duel with John Smoltz in the 1996 World Series that he won down in Atlanta 1-0 after being pummeled in Game 1 in New York. Who can forget Pettite's dominance going into the 8th inning in Game 4 of the 1998 World Series clinching game against the San Diego Padres? Who could forget his 2009 post season performance where he was the clinching winning pitcher in all 3 rounds of the post season including the World Series? That is all before you consider his two 20 win seasons including a second place finish in the AL CY Young in 1996 to Pat Hentgen.
Does Andy Pettitte's (current) 240-138 record with a 3.88 ERA and 117 ERA+ in 3055 IP get him into the hall of fame? He is a borderline candidate in my opinion but I honestly would not vote him in because I would not consider the post season statistics but I know that some will. He was also, lets not equivocate, helped a TON by run support playing in New York and even in Houston. In my opinion he was only dominant in three of his seasons and that is not hall of fame worthy. What say you?
Check in tomorrow for another special installment of Meet A Prospect featuring Yankees all star CF Curtis Granderson.