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How will Phillies signing of A.J. Burnett affect Jonathan Pettibone?

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The Philadelphia Phillies and right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett came to an agreement on a one-year, $14 million contract Wednesday. In doing so, top prospect Jonathan Pettibone may be out of a job at the Major League level.

Pettibone helped stabilize the back of the Phillies’ rotation last season, starting 18 games. The 23-year-old showed promise, compiling a 5-4 record with a 4.04 ERA and 66 strikeouts.

However, the signing of Burnett leaves little room in the rotation for Pettibone with Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez the likely front runners for the final two spots in the rotation. As a result, Pettibone could very well start the 2014 season with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs instead.

Pettibone is a starting pitcher and the Phillies likely see him as such for the foreseeable future. He would be better suited going down to the Triple-A club and keeping his arm stretched out for when the Phils inevitably need him rather than moving to the bullpen in Philadelphia.

All indications are that Pettibone will be the first guy to be called upon when one of the Phillies’ starters inevitably get injured—age is sure to catch up with Burnett and Cliff Lee soon, plus Cole Hamels is battling a potentially serious bicep injury. So while this signing may hurt Pettibone in the short term, it could be beneficial in the long run as he gets a chance to develop a bit more with the IronPigs and eventually cement his place within the Phillies’ starting rotation when the time is right.

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