Albuquerque Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill noted two things about right-hander Zach Jemiola on Tuesday night.
“He’s very competitive and that’s going to serve him well,” Hill said. “He’s a good self evaluator, too, which you’ll find out when you talk to him.”
A day after his rough start against the Reno Aces, Jemiola did indeed prove to be a good self evaluator.
“Changeup was good, fastball command was bad,” he said. “That’s honestly all I have. That’s what it was.”
The 23-year-old prospect gave up seven runs on seven hits, including four home runs, and two walks while striking out three in 52⁄3 innings. It dropped his record to 1-1 and ballooned his ERA to 9.53 through two starts.
“I didn’t command my fastball like I normally do,” Jemiola said. “My sinker was flat. My four-seam was over the middle of the plate. I got behind (in the count) and I wasn’t making good, quality pitches. They hit the ball well.”
The loss of his command was baffling to Jemiola, but he said he remained confident in his ability to get it back.
“I had great fastball command all spring,” Jemiola said. “I had good fastball command in my first game. I threw the ball really well. I gave up a few weak-contact hits. Nothing really got hit hard. Last game I got hit hard. [But] it’s not something I’m worried about.”
Hill was not too worried, either.
“He pitched better than his line,” Hill said. “Because he’s a very competitive pitcher and because hitters are forced to get ready, he made a couple mistakes and he paid for them with the home run ball. We all thought he pitched better than his line.”
Jemiola had allowed only three leadoff home runs through five innings before the wheels came off in the sixth. A single and a walk set the table for former Minnesota Twin Oswaldo Arcia to belt a monstrous three-run homer to left. After giving up a two-out RBI double to Ronnie Freeman, Hill finally pulled Jemiola.
“Part of what a lot of these pitchers have to do is learn to get through the lineup a third time,” Hill said. “I’m sure in a day or two he’s going to look back at what his mindset was along with making some adjustments in getting the ball in an area that he needs to and wants to get the ball consistently, without telling the world what that is. There’s still some room to grow and for him to be (more) consistent.”
Jemiola would blame neither the ballpark nor the veteran hitters in Reno’s lineups for any of his struggles.
“It’s nice, our park is awesome, beautiful,” he said. “It’s a step closer to the big leagues, obviously, which is the main goal. But I’ve got to learn to pitch here before I can even think about that. I know it’s going to be a learning curve for me. It’s going to be harder and tougher, but it’s going to make me better.”
In a way, Jemiola just likes having a home ballpark after spending all of last year on the road with the Yard Goats.
“I forgot the feeling of like getting off the plane or the bus and going, oh, wow, we’re at home now,” he said with a smile. “We have a homestand, that’s nice. We’re actually somewhere for more than four days. I like it, especially this park. This facility is great.”
Now it is all just a matter of collecting himself and getting ready for his next start against the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) on Sunday.
“Like I said, honestly, the biggest thing for me is I could have had a really good outing yesterday if I located a few fastballs,” Jemiola said. “It’s not like anything drastic—I’m not pressured, I’m not worried, it’s just locate your fastball. I’ve been able to do that my whole career. I just need to work on that and be ready Sunday.”