SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Zach Jemiola had a regular season to forget, getting strafed for a 6.83 ERA in Triple-A and losing seven weeks to a strained oblique. So far, the Rockies right-hander is having an Arizona Fall League to remember.Back for a second tour of duty with the Salt River
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Zach Jemiola had a regular season to forget, getting strafed for a 6.83 ERA in Triple-A and losing seven weeks to a strained oblique. So far, the Rockies right-hander is having an Arizona Fall League to remember.
Back for a second tour of duty with the Salt River Rafters after pitching in the AFL last year, Jemiola has spun eight scoreless innings while winning his first two starts. He blanked the Glendale Desert Dogs for five innings in a 5-1 victory on Thursday night, scattering five hits while striking out four.
All four of Jemiola's whiffs came on his fastball, which hovered around 92-94 mph throughout his start. He located his heater well, registering called strikeouts against Logan Hill (Pirates), Seby Zavala (White Sox) and Edgar Cabral (Phillies).
"That was the one pitch I had on a consistent basis," Jemiola said. "I had a changeup as my secondary, was able to use my curveball and cutter to miss a couple barrels, get them off my fastball. Overall, I had good command of both sides of the plate and just worked with that."
A ninth-round pick out of a California high school in 2012, Jemiola had made steady progress through the Rockies system until his rough 2017. He said he welcomed the chance to return to the AFL, where he posted a 5.64 ERA in seven starts a year ago, seeing it as an opportunity for redemption.
"I was really excited when I got asked to come back here, especially since I didn't really have many innings this year compared to the previous year," Jemiola said. "I kind of just felt like this was a second chance for the year. I really wasn't happy with how the season went. I was very disappointed. I figured it would go one of two ways. I could come out here and show my stuff and prove to myself and the Rockies that I could still do it, or I could fold and play the 'poor me' card and I didn't want to do that."
Jemiola definitely hasn't folded. He and Peoria Javelinas left-hander Henry Owens (Red Sox) are the only Fall League pitchers with two victories, and Peoria lefty Max Fried (Braves' No. 9 prospect) is the only one who can match his eight shutout innings.
Rather than trying to make specific improvements with any of his offerings, Jemiola said he is focused on his mindset more than anything else.
"Not pitches in general but repeating my delivery and being able to take each pitch one at time and not getting ahead of myself," he said. "Throughout my career, I've always gotten into a habit of trying to be too quick when I was on the mound instead of relaxing and taking each pitch at a time. Especially watching the playoffs right now, you see the guys that are dominating, they're locked in on each pitch. It's not rushing, they're not letting anything get in their heads, it's one pitch at a time."
Center fielder Braxton Lee (Marlins) headlined the Rafters' 11-hit attack. He went 3-for-4 with a double, scoring two runs and driving in another. DH Yonathan Daza (Rockies) contributed two hits and swiped home on a double steal in the seventh inning.
Salt River improved to 4-5, climbing to within a game of the Scottsdale Scorpions for the East Division lead. Glendale fell to 5-4 and dropped into a first-place tie with Peoria in the West.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.