Ismael Guillon might have surprised some people with his dominant start on Saturday night, but it was exactly what those in the Reds organization have long expected of him.
"Every time he takes the mound -- and I'm being really honest with you, I really believe this -- I feel like he's a special pitcher," said Dayton pitching coach, Tony Fossas. "He's a guy who can do this all the time."
The Reds' No. 20 prospect threw six-plus no-hit innings, walking three and striking out three, in the Dragons' 6-1 victory at Lansing.
Guillon, who was added to Cincinnati's 40-man roster after post-Tommy John contract renegotiations made him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, improved to 6-8 and lowered his ERA to 4.99 ERA in 26 Midwest League outings.
"Well, today he pitched like a 40-man roster player. He's been kind of off and on all year, but lately he's been a lot better," said Fossas, who spent 12 seasons in the Major Leagues. "Tonight his fastball was up to 94 and it had really good life down in the zone. He had good downhill action and he was able to throw strikes. He had a really impressive outing tonight.
"That's the kind of kid we've always known we have. He's a young left-hander. Last year, he had a good season, but this year he got off to a slow start. I don't know the reason or what caused it. All I know is, right now, he's throwing the ball really well, like the pitcher we knew we had and like we still know we have."
Guillon retired the first 10 Lugnuts before walking Emilio Guerrero, who he promptly picked off. Fossas wasn't sure whether Dragons manager Jose Nieves had called for the throw to first, but he knew it was a good idea.
"[Guillon] does a good job with the running game," Fossas said, "and he's got a real good move to first."
The 21-year-old native of Venezuela was perfect through the sixth. He came out for the seventh but was lifted after giving up back-to-back walks.
"Even though nobody wants to admit it and nobody would say anything, I think it was that he knew his pitch count was coming to an end and he knew he had a no-hitter," Fossas said. "I think thinking about those things, he started speeding up his delivery and he went back to some of the signs of what he experienced in the past."
According to his pitching coach, though, those troubles are behind Guillon, who's less likely to encounter them each time he takes the mound.
"His last time out, he pitched four innings the same way [as tonight], but then he hit a bump in the road and kind of lost it," Fossas said. "He's that kind of kid. The more he throws, the more experience he gets, he's going to be the kind of guy who does this all the time."
Wandy Peralta replaced Guillon and issued another walk in the seventh, then got a fly ball and a double play to keep the no-hitter intact.
Lansing, which has been no-hit three times this season, broke through against Peralta as Daniel Klein led off the eighth with his third homer of the season.
Daniel Pigott doubled twice and drove in four runs for Dayton, while Seth Mejias-Brean went 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of runs scored.