He had to push aside some butterflies in the stomach to do it, but Williams Perez cruised through his Class A Advanced debut.
The Braves right-handed prospect and native Venezuelan unfurled six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out seven in Lynchburg's 8-1 win at Wilmington on Monday.
"I won't lie, I was really nervous," Perez said through translater and fellow Hillcats hurler Carlos Perez.
Early success, including striking out the third batter he faced, Jorge Bonifacio, helped him relax.
"After the 1-2-3 first inning, I had a lot more confidence to get going," Perez said. "Thanks to God, everything was working for me. I tried to work primarily off my two-seam fastball and my curveball."
The 22-year-old immediately felt a difference between the Carolina League and the Class A South Atlantic League, where he began his first stateside full season.
"I was facing more experienced hitters," he said. "I knew I couldn't be down in the count, so I was always trying to get ahead."
In the second, Jared Schlehuber smacked a one-out double off Perez and advanced to third on a groundout. Perez then walked Daniel Mateo.
"After having men on first and third, I didn't try to rush," Perez said. "I took a breath and decided to get my curveball going."
He struck out the next hitter, Kenny Swab, to end the inning.
He worked a perfect third and had two outs in the fourth when Schlehuber touched him up again for a double.
"In the first at-bat, the guy hit a hanging curve," Perez said. "But in the next at-bat, it was 3-2 and I went to my fastball. The guy took advantage of it."
He struck out the side in the fifth, pitching around a two-out single by Ethan Chapman, and worked a 1-2-3 sixth.
"It felt good," he said. "I felt like I would be able to longer, but my pitch count was up, so that's why I had to come out."
After the strong start, he's looking to the future.
"To keep working, to get better with all my pitches, especially my secondary staff, and move forward through the system until I reach the big leagues," Perez said. "Those are my goals."
Schlehuber also homered in the game.