C.D. Pelham Closes Out Carolina League All-Star Game
ZEBULON, N.C. — It took a while, but manager Joe Ayrault got each and every one of the players on his Southern Division squad an appearance in this year’s Carolina League all-star game. And he saved one of the best for last.
After lifting Myrtle Beach reliever Tyler Peyton, who’d allowed a home run to Nationals prospect Carter Kieboom that cut his team’s lead to just one run, Ayrault summoned Down East closer C.D. Pelham.
A limber, live-armed lefthander the Rangers selected in the 33rd round of the 2015 draft out Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist JC, Pelham has spent his year shredding the opposition in the ninth inning. He’s a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities and has whiffed 34 hitters over 27.2 innings with the Wood Ducks.
Pelham faced one batter—Frederick second baseman Preston Palmeiro—and retired him on a grounder to first base. He threw seven pitches, all fastballs and all between 95-98 mph. That’s about the norm for the lefthander, who’s hit triple-digits with his heater at points this season.
The abbreviated outing meant Pelham didn’t have to use his other weapon, a slider, which is new to his arsenal.
“Last year I threw a curveball and it wasn’t consistent at all,” he explained. “Our coordinators came in and had me switch some things up and threw the curveball away and started throwing a slider.”
Hitters, Pelham explained, could easily discern his loopy curveball from his fastball, which allowed them to easily pick through an at-bat to get to the pitch they wanted. Now, he’s made it a lot tougher on the opposition.
“Just a big, intimidating presence,” Ayrault said. “To have that type of velocity from the left side and being as big and intimidating as he looks. He’s done a good job closing down games for those guys.”
Pelham has also been working with the Rangers and their director of peak performance, Josiah Igono, to improve the mental aspect of his game. Every athlete needs to be strong mentally to succeed, but closers especially need to be able to quickly flush failure and come back ready for their next outing.
“He’s just helped me mentally with everything,” Pelham said. “Just being able to get certain things and just move on. During instructs and spring training we have a lot of meetings and have different speakers come in and talk about different mental aspects of the game. Just being able to transition some of that stuff into the game, honestly (has helped).”
With a clear mind and a live arm, Pelham has plenty of weapons to continue to dominate opposing hitters.