Yusmeiro Petit: A Quiet Confidence

As the youngest pitcher on the Bombers' team, nineteen-year-old Yusmeiro Petit is remarkably self-assured. Standing at a clean six feet, he possesses a mean fastball-- along with an olive complexion, piercing dark eyes, and wavy black hair. The Venezuelan native originally came to the United States to play in Minnesota at the Twins' Academy.

When the time came for a contract, no one on the team was willing to sign him. Referred to the Mets by a friend, Petit was promptly picked up and has continued his career with the organization ever since. Like many of his colleagues, Petit is an old hand at the game. He began playing at the tender age of four. After being a third baseman for almost ten years, he converted to pitching and learned the trade in high school from a man named Jeirosuna.

The youngest of three brothers, Petit's mother was actually the parent who accepted her child's career choice the best. Of his father, Petit says, "He wanted me to go to school in Venezuela." His father had preferred the profession of an engineer to that of a baseball player. Fortunately, his youngest did not share in his vision for the future and instead of a university in his homeland, Yusmeiro headed off to a ballpark in the U.S. Petit cites his family's situation of having one child already playing baseball in the States, prior to his own recruitment, as explanation for his father's reluctance.

When, in the off-season, he does manage to get home, Yusmeiro has a definite schedule to which he strictly adheres: gym in the morning, practice in the afternoon, family at night. In order to keep up the level of his game and become better acquainted with his teammates, he plays with the same group of guys each year in Venezuela. His methods seem to have worked; Yusmeiro leads the South Atlantic League's pitchers in strikeouts, 77. Although he claims to have no set strategy, his efficiency at retiring batters can be somewhat disturbing-- at least to his opponents. His approach is nothing flashy, just a streamlined simplicity that breathes cool poise into his teammates. Petit himself thinks that he "bring(s) confidence to the team. When I'm pitching they feel I've got the game under control."

This comment is so on the money that manager Jack Lind is inclined to utter many of the same sentiments. "We know that when he pitches we're going to have a real good chance to win." Petit has complied a near irreproachable 6-1 record this season. In fact, he is the only one of the Capital City's pitchers to be listed among the top five SAL pitchers, according to percentage. On his representative team, Petit has pitched the most innings out of any of his fellow Bombers, 59.1-- seven more than second place Tanner Osberg. Abandoning a weak curveball, Petit now relies mainly on his fastball, but also increasingly on an improving slider.

When asked what he thinks of America, Petit looks thoughtful, and even a bit pensive before responding. His answer is carefully weighted, but clearly honest. "It's a good country, but there are a lot of rules. A lot of laws." Although differences between his home and his place of employment abound, Yusmeiro is resilient enough to adapt. Whenever he wants to reminisce about home, all he has to do is go out looking for some of his teammates. Yusmeiro is one of five men from Venezuela on the Bombers. The teammates share a close bond and he is far from exempt from the warm camaraderie.

Like all professional ball players, the soft-spoken Petit dreams of one day making it to the major leagues. After a bit more careful prodding, he personalizes his goal by expanding it to include helping his family-- all of it. While he is an uncle many times over, Yusmeiro has no children of his own and seems quite content to leave well enough alone for the time being. He realizes the amount of work required to make his dreams reality, and makes it clear that he will not shirk from sacrifices required or suffer from a confusion in priorities. Yusmeiro has a driving ambition and works constantly to ensure it won't remain unrealized. While he hones his talent through hours of practice, he instinctively brings to the field a far more exceptional and exquisite ability. He makes his team believe in him and believe in each other. And while a pitch may be clocked, measured, and otherwise ripped to shreds, this cannot be touched.

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