A couple of weeks ago, Zach Cates got roughed up, failing to survive the first inning against the Tampa Yankees. It appears he's turned that into a learning experience.
The Cubs prospect pitched six hitless innings and struck out seven batters Tuesday night as Class A Advanced Daytona rolled to an 11-4 victory over visiting Palm Beach.
Cates (3-2) walked three and faced four over the minimum, exiting with a 6-0 lead. He allowed just one runner to reach second base for the Cardinals, who got only four balls out of the infield against the 2010 third-round Draft pick.
"Basically, I was able to throw strikes with all three of my pitches," Cates said. "I was able to keep the ball down for the most part, and when they did hit the ball hard the guys behind me made plays. My catcher [Micah Gibbs] called a great game."
David Cales took over in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Danny Stienstra that ended the no-hit bid.
"Nobody wanted to see that, obviously, but it's baseball, it happens," Cates said. "We did a great job with the baseball, offensively and defensively. We're thrilled with the way we played tonight."
The 23-year-old right-hander has not allowed a run over 12 1/3 innings in his last three appearances. During that time, he's allowed four hits while striking out 11.
"I'm just trying to step on the mound and be aggressive and fill up the zone and get the hitter to make contact early," the Arkansas native said. "It goes to my defense and offense, they've been making plays behind me. It's a real team effort and at the end of the day, it shows on the scoreboard."
The scoreless stretch follows Cates' worst start of the season on April 19, when he recorded only two outs and surrendered six runs on three hits and three walks.
"Obviously, those days are not good ones at all and tough to handle," said Cates, who attended Northeast Texas Community College. "Every day is a new day and I try to get better each and every day. And whatever happens, good or bad, I try to flush it. I just try to make that my focus and stay on an even keel."
Cales pitched around two hits in a scoreless inning, but Starling Peralta was charged with four runs on two hits over 1 2/3 frames. Frank Del Valle got the final out after yielding a hit and a walk.
Javier Baez, the Cubs' top prospect, doubled and drove in a pair of runs, while No. 3 prospect Jorge Soler scored twice.