Pedro Viola, relief pitcher
Why did the Orioles keep him on the 40-man roster at the expense of players like Justin Turner, Scott Moore, and Lou Montanez?
Viola’s a left-hander with an outstanding fastball. It’s believed that left-handers with outstanding fastballs are valuable commodities in short supply, and the Orioles obviously felt that he’d be claimed if they tried to remove him.
Viola DOES have an outstanding fastball, but he doesn’t have a breaking pitch or a changeup. His fastball doesn’t move; it comes in straight and flat. He doesn’t have terrific control or command; at some point in nearly every at bat he has to come in with a fastball down the pipe. So, he walks a lot of people and/or gets hammered. With Norfolk, he really did pitch down to his numbers.
The Orioles hope that Viola will refine his game enough so that, with his fastball, he can be a devastating relief pitcher. Even though he’s 27, that could still happen, and I understand that the potential upside of such a project is worth a spot on the forty-man. And I understand that the players the Orioles removed from the roster aren’t going to be stars. But I think that Viola’s got about a 2% chance of being useful. When a team becomes good, it needs to keep spare parts on its forty-man. I’d be willing to let some other team take the chance on Viola.