Thomas Collier had high expectations entering the year with the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
Pitching at his third level in as many years, there was a real chance he could see time with Double-A Erie down the stretch if he performed well. Then he landed on the disabled list 11 days into the season. On Sunday, he looked better than ever.
Collier struck out six batters over five innings as the Flying Tigers came within six outs of a no-hitter in a 3-0 blanking of visiting St. Lucie.
The 23-year-old right-hander walked two batters before turning a 1-0 lead over to his bullpen. Alex Burgos kept the no-hitter intact through the seventh before Robbie Shields led off the eighth with a single to center field.
Burgos started an inning-ending double play and Jose Valdez worked around a two-out walk in the ninth to seal the victory.
Selected by the Tigers in the 22nd round of the 2011 Draft, Collier (2-2) lowered his ERA to 3.97. He turned down a chance to sign with the Blue Jays two years earlier after they drafted him in the 49th round.
The outing was just what the junior college product needed to show he was back on the right track. He strained his groin in his third start of the season against Brevard County and was sidelined for almost two months before returning to live game action on July 6.
Limited to five innings in each of his last four outings, Collier has allowed five runs on 11 hits while striking out 18 batters and walking six.
The Flying Tigers gave their starter a lead in the fourth when Steven Moya was hit by a pitch and came home on back-to-back singles by Jeff McVaney and Corey Jones.
Jones went 3-for-4 out of the eighth spot in the lineup, while Devon Travis reached base three times, drove in a run and scored once.
Mets starter Michael Fulmer (0-2) allowed a run on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking two.