Nick Tepesch got a taste of Major League success last year when he began the season as a starter for the Rangers and returned in September as a reliever. While he didn't make the rotation out of Spring Training this year, he's working one day at a time to return to the big leagues.
The Rangers right-hander took a step closer Saturday night when he pitched a five-hitter for his second career shutout as Triple-A Round Rock edged Memphis, 2-0, at Dell Diamond.
"I feel great, really happy with it. [It was] just a matter of getting quick outs," Tepesch said. "I was just getting ahead of hitters [and] getting the ball down in the zone."
The 25-year-old right-hander cruised through seven innings, with his only blemish coming on a two-out single by Pete Kozma in the second. He allowed two hits in each of the next two frames but worked his way out of trouble both times en route to his fourth career complete game and second shutout.
A year ago, Tepesch (4-1) went 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA and 76 strikeouts (including Kozma while he was with St. Louis) in two stints with Texas. After an elbow injury sent him to the disabled list, he made two relief appearances and a start in September.
"I learned a lot," he said. "It was a new environment but the same game. I tried to treat it like any other level."
His second big league spring did not go as well as the first. After the University of Missouri product surrendered 10 runs over eight innings in three Cactus League appearances, the Rangers assigned him to the Pacific Coast League.
"It is what it is," Tepesch said. "I'm down here to get better [and] I'll take it one game at a time."
It's that approach, along with trying to get ahead of hitters early, that has him leading the PCL with four wins. He's also fourth with a 1.82 ERA and credits his batterymate for his success.
Since 2009, Tepesch has had Brett Nicholas behind the plate to call his games with four different teams, including a season at Missouri.
"He's one of my best friends off the field. He knows me really well [and] it helps a lot," he said. "He's known me for five years now, so we don't have to learn anything."
Tepesch did not have the lead until the sixth, when Brent Lillibridge singled home Bryan Petersen. An inning later, Jared Hoying slugged his sixth homer of the season.
Redbirds starter Tim Cooney (3-1) -- the Cardinals' 10th-ranked prospect suffered his first loss, despite yielding two runs on six hits while striking out eight over seven innings.