Marcus Stroman is working in an unfamiliar role, but the results are strikingly similar.
The Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect fanned three batters in an inning of relief as Salt River bested Peoria, 5-3, on Friday.
Stroman allowed just a one-out double to Royals prospect Cheslor Cuthbert. The 22-year-old right-hander fanned Jorge Bonifacio (Royals), Patrick Kivlehan (Mariners) and Delino DeShields (Astros), needing just 17 pitches to get through the inning.
"I felt great," Stroman said. "All my pitches were working. I'm getting back into relieving mode, coming in and giving it everything you've got for one inning. I'm enjoying it out here. I love the atmosphere. I want to come in, attack the zone and get outs."
Normally a starter, the New York native has worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the Rafters. In four appearances Stroman has recorded five strikeouts and posted a 2.25 ERA.
"I enjoy doing both," Stroman said "Coming back to bullpen has been a fun ride. It fits my personality, but I'm still a starter at heart."
Stroman made his full-season debut in 2013, going 9-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A New Hampshire. The 2012 first-round pick recorded 129 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings, limiting hitters to a .234 batting average. Despite the success, Stroman still feels there are things to work on in the AFL.
"I'm throwing my changeup," Stroman said. "It's a pitch that often gets lost when you're a reliever. But I'm concentrating on being able to throw it when I come in. Also, my command and staying down in the zone and putting people away when I'm ahead in the count.
"It's awesome being able to talk to everyone on your team about pitching. I've been lucky to be sent out here by the Blue Jays. I've enjoyed my time so far and I'm really trying to attack the zone with all my pitches."
Cardinals prospect Sam Gavilgio gave up a run on four hits and struck out four over four innings to earn the win for the Rafters.
Jacob Wilson (Cardinals) and Tim Wheeler (Rockies) plated a pair of runs for Salt River.
Astros prospect Japhet Amador was 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Javelinas.