A couple of words about Mike Ballard and Pedro Viola

The Orioles' ever-changing roster changed again today. As for the pitching staff, as Jason Berken got optioned out, Mike Ballard joined the team and Pedro Viola rejoined the team.

I recently wrote about how Ballard's pitching had been a big part of Bowie's recent winning ways and talked with Baysox pitching coach Kennie Steenstra about his.

Ballard, a 27-year-old lefty, began the season with Triple-A Norfolk and moved to Bowie in early June. Ballard was 6-1 with a 2.88 ERA for the Baysox. He spent parts of every season since 2008 in Triple-A and was drafted in Round 14 in 2006 by Texas out of the University of Virginia.

"He has pitched exceptionally well," Steenstra said of Ballard's work with Bowie. "He's a veteran Triple-A guy and he has handled it well here. The one hiccup he has had is (pitching against) left-handers. He has had some struggles against left-handers."

Ballard does have some unique stats. As Steenstra pointed out, he gives up a batting average of .351 against left-handed batters and just .145 against right-handed hitters. Also, in 65 2/3 innings with Bowie, he has walked just four batters with 67 strikeouts. That is some ratio.

Ballard went 2-4 with a 4.91 ERA at Norfolk in April and May.

Here is Steenstra's scouting report on Ballard: "He doesn't throw that hard, he's 84 to 88. But he can throw four pitches and has a very good changeup. He spots it up very well and pitches in to righties. He has to use all his pitches and be smart on the mound."

Ballard figures to be one of the long relievers. He last pitched for Bowie on Wednesday, going 6 2/3 innings and giving up three runs (two earned) against Harrisburg.

Viola has been on the Bowie-Baltimore shuttle which has dropped him off back with Baltimore. The 28-year-old lefty was 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings with the Baysox.

Last weekend, when I was in Bowie, I asked Steenstra who had the best arm on his pitching staff?

"Best pure stuff? Orioles fans may not want to hear it, but it probably is Pedro Viola. You are talking about a guy, that, every time we run him out there has been consistently 93 to 95. There are some command issues there but he has pitched real well for us," Steenstra said.

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