LIMA - Sitting down for an interview just hours before he left on his first assignment in professional baseball, Zach Petrick had no idea what to expect or just how far he would progress in the sport. Now four months and a few honors later, the future is much clearer for the former University of Northwestern Ohio pitcher.
Petrick was named The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Minor League Rookie Starting Pitcher of the Year for the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization after going 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA in 45.2 innings, with 50 strikeouts.
"When I was sitting here how many months ago before I left, if you were to have told me I would be in this position I would have thought you were crazy," Petrick said. "It just goes to show how I wanted it from the start and the pitching staff over there in Johnson City helped me out tremendously with my pitching."
After going through the short season with the Single A Johnson City club, Petrick has readjusted his sights. Early in the summer, he believed his ceiling might be AA ball; now, he knows that level is well within his reach, and possibly even further.
"Hopefully this is just the start of a successful career I could potentially have, and that's what the coaches said, I could have a successful career," Petrick said. "When I was just about to leave here, I thought AA would be a longshot for me. Now that I sit here, I think that's a good goal for me, maybe not next year but maybe the year after that. That's one or two more steps to where I want to be, the major leagues."
The biggest change for Petrick after his first go-through in pro baseball has been the mental aspect of the game, while also mentioning an improved curveball. Petrick is back on the UNOH campus, working out with the baseball team and completing classes towards his degree in Business Administration.
"Mentally I've grown tremendously," Petrick said. "Doug White in Johnson City helped me out; every day he was harping on the mental aspect of pitching. I think I grew and was successful because of that."
To listen to the complete interview with Petrick, follow this link.
In two seasons with the Racers, Petrick went 10-5 in 27 appearances with 21 starts, 130.1 innings and five complete games. He had a 3.05 ERA with 50 runs, 112 strikeouts and 25 walks.
As the first player to be drafted out of the UNOH baseball program, which wrapped up its second season with an appearance in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament, Petrick realizes he is one of the most recognizable faces and names associated with the program. It's a distinction he welcomes.
"That's one of the reasons I came here was coach (Kory) Hartman told me I could be the first-year player who could be the face of the organization," Petrick said. "Two years of successful baseball and being drafted out of here, I had a great coach in coach Hartman and he got to where I am now. I know he's going to be successful here over however many years he stays here."
The Racers recently wrapped up fall camp and begin the 2013 season February 1 in Tennessee. As for Petrick, he received his workout plan from the Cardinals this week and awaits word where he'll go in the 2013 season.