School is in session for Alex Colome, but so far it's been International League hitters who are getting the lessons.
The Rays' No. 12 prospect allowed two hits and struck out seven over six innings as Triple-A Durham routed Norfolk, 9-0, on Thursday.
Colome walked two and faced four over the minimum for the Bulls. The native of the Dominican Republic threw 50 of his 85 pitches for strikes to secure his first win of the season, as well as his first victory in the International League.
The 24-year-old right-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before allowing a one-out double to Yamaico Navarro. With runners on second and third, Colome bore down to get Niuman Romero to line out and fanned Luis Exposito to end the threat.
"He's starting to learn how to pitch more and become more a pitcher than a thrower." Bulls pitching coach Neil Allen said. "He's throwing a split and a slider, and he's learned to use both doors with his slider. He'll elevate and expand with the fastball in the proper counts, everything's starting to come together for him."
Colome (1-0) has yet to allow a run in his first two starts this season. He has allowed three hits, four walks and has struck out 11 over 11 innings for the Bulls. In his season debut April 6, he tossed five one-hit innings in Norfolk. The results are all part of the maturation process according to the former Major Leaguer.
"He's throwing strikes with all his pitches," Allen said. "He's got a lot of confidence in all his pitches. The thing we had to do was teach him how to pitch. When, how, why to use his offspeed. When you have a big arm like he does, you tend to just rely on the fastball. He's really grabbed the concept of what we're trying to teach him. It was hard for him because he's got such a big arm."
"When you get to the big leagues, 95 [mph] is nothing. You've got to get your offspeed over to succeed at the big league level. The fastball is not the only pitch in baseball, you have to utilize all your tools."
Colome is a member of one of the more vaunted rotations in the Minor Leagues, alongside Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer and Mike Montgomery, all considered part of the Rays' Top 10 prospects. It would then be easy for some to forget about the hurler but Allen cautions against that.
"He can't be overlooked, he's got a big as arm as anyone," he said. "He's got good enough stuff to be in the same category with those guys. He's behind them because he's still learning. But as he learns he's going to be right there with them shortly."
The 6-foot-2 hurler has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the organization, having posted an ERA under 4.00 each of the past four seasons. In 2012, he was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 17 Minor League starts, three of which came in the International League.
Adam Liberatore followed Colome with 1 2/3 hitless innings of relief. Josh Lueke fanned the final four batters of the game to earn his first save of the season.
Wil Myers, MLB.com's No. 4 prospect, drew three walks and scored a run while Leslie Anderson had a pair of RBIs for Durham.