Signing his name on the dotted line at such a late juncture meant Holmes didn't pitch from the end of his high school season until fall instructs. It was a break in action he wasn't accustomed to, and though he used the time off to work out and take some summer classes at Auburn, he was ultimately happy to get started on his professional career.
"I missed it. I enjoy getting on the mound and competing," Holmes said. "Getting the whole summer off, that was the first time I did that in a long time. It was different.
Holmes began the 2012 season in extended spring training before reporting to State College and making his pro debut June 22. The Pirates' No. 15 prospect has burst out of the gate in impressive fashion, leading the league with a 0.94 ERA, tying for second with four wins and amassing 27 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings pitched.
In six of his eight outings thus far, Holmes has pitched five innings without allowing an earned run while yielding three hits or fewer. For the season, New York-Penn League hitters are batting just .138 against him.
He's achieved an early measure of success by focusing on the most basic tool in any pitcher's repertoire: his fastball.
"Probably just being consistent with that, really using my fastball, getting outs with it," said Holmes. "Learning how to get outs with my fastball. Right now that's what I'm working on. Got a lot of decent fastball hitters in this league, so using my fastball, getting ahead with it, being aggressive with it in early counts and getting outs and getting ahead with batters."
Mixed in with the success on Holmes' stat line is one game that stands out: in his third start of the season, against Batavia, he lasted just 3 2/3 innings and allowed three of the four earned runs that have been scored off of him this season.
Holmes went back to the fastball for his explanation of the disappointing outing.
"One thing I've been working on a lot this year is using my fastball and really competing with it, using that aggressive mentality and just attacking hitters. Throwing my fastball in there and getting hit with that," said Holmes, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander who also throws a changeup and a curveball. "I'd say that outing, my mentality wasn't as good as what it should have been and what I've come to now.
"So that's the part, I guess, that was missing in that outing and led to some walks and some other things that got my pitch count high where the outing wasn't successful."
That tough loss wasn't in vain, however: Holmes, just a year removed from being valedictorian of his high school's graduating class, managed to pull an important lesson from it.
"I think I learned a lot from it," he said. "That was a big teaching point, just how I need to prepare myself every outing to go and bring that same mentality and mind-set every game, to be more consistent with that. It was a big teaching point for me."
Michael the Lake Monster: Michael Ynoa made his NYPL debut for the Vermont Lake Monsters on Wednesday, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. It was the first start above the Rookie level for the 20-year-old, who missed the entire 2009 and 2011 seasons with elbow problems after signing with Oakland for an international amateur-record $4.25 million in 2008.
And on the fifth day, they allowed a run: From the ninth inning on July 26 to the sixth inning on July 30, the Lowell Spinners' pitching staff hurled 30 consecutive scoreless innings. The streak included three straight shutouts. According to the Lowell Sun, it was the first time since 1915 that a Lowell-based Minor League team had accomplished such a feat.
One and done: Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts made a rehab appearance with Aberdeen on Saturday, batting leadoff and finishing 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. The next day, he announced that he would undergo season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in his hip.