Who is he?
A non-prospect, called up late in the year to help the Tides finish out the season. Petersime was a late-round Orioles draft pick in 2009, and spent 2009, 2010, and 2011 in short-season leagues. Despite pitching consistently worse over the years, he survived 2012 spring training. After another stint in extended spring training and a holding appearance with Aberdeen, he was promoted to Low-A Delmarva where he pitched effectively in a low-leverage role. (Although he had five saves, most of them were of the three-inning, large-lead variety.) He was promoted to Norfolk in August to make an emergency start, and pitched well enough to stay with the team the rest of the season, even getting a non-emergency start.
Does he have a future?
Presumably, Petersime pitched well enough so that he won’t get released this offseason. Although he’s pitched in relief more and more over his career, it’s also generally true that he’s pitched worse the more he’s pitched as a relief pitcher. I think he ought to get a shot as a starting pitcher in High-A Frederick, but it’s also true that he’s a longshot prospect at best.
Last Saturday’s 12-3 Tides loss to the Charlotte Knights feature one of the worst pitching performances I’ve ever seen. To set the stage, the parent Baltimore Orioles had burned through their pitching staff on Thursday, and summoned Saturday’s scheduled starting pitcher Zach Britton to start Saturday’s Orioles game. The Class A Delmarva Shorebirds were returning to the Eastern Shore from Kannapolis, NC, and made a stop in Norfolk, ejecting Zach Petersime. Petersime, who had been an emergency pitcher with the Tides earlier, made the start for the Tides.
You might think that the bad pitching performance would come from Petersime, who was really supposed to pitch three levels below the AAA Tides, and who had pitched less than 150 innings in his professional career. But Petersime rose to the occasion. He pitched three scoreless innings. In the fourth, Justin Greene hit a line drive to left center. L.J. Hoes ran to catch it, but just as he was getting there he lost his footing and the ball rolled to the fence; Greene reached third on a triple. One out later, Jose Lopez singled in Greene and Brent Morel doubled. With runners on second and third, Petersime was relieved by Pedro Viola.
And it was Pedro Viola who pitched terribly. Viola is a left-handed relief pitcher who can reach 95 miles an hour, but he has poor control and his pitches are straight. His delivery is out of the Al Hrabosky/Mitch Williams school — he turns his back on the batter before starting his delivery and looks at home plate by peeking over his right shoulder. While Hrabosky and Williams had some spectacular seasons, their delivery was hard to repeat and they weren’t consistent.
On Saturday, Viola pitched two and one-third innings. On the positive side, he did strike out five batters. On the negative side, he walked two, gave up five hits including two home runs, allowed a stolen base, and misplayed a return toss from the catcher. This led to six earned runs. But it wasn’t just that. Viola threw 57 pitches; 22 were balls and six were fouls, which led to some long counts. And Viola took a long time between pitches. It made for a very tedious two and one-third innings.
I have to wonder if some pitching coach, somewhere, has tried to work with Viola to adopt a more traditional, more repeatably consistent delivery. Maybe one has and found that Viola loses velocity when he used it. The Orioles are hoping that they can harness Viola’s powerful left arm and develop a relief ace, or at least a devasating lefty specialist. But when Viola’s not pitching well, it’s painful to watch.