The California League is supposed to be unkind to pitchers, particularly those who have limited experience with it. Daniel Wright didn't look very intimidated Monday.
Making his third start for Class A Advanced Bakersfield, the Reds prospect began his outing with 5 1/3 perfect innings at Rancho Cucamonga. Tyler Ogle ended his bid at history with a one-out single in the sixth, but that was all the right-hander surrendered over seven scoreless innings. He had four strikeouts and didn't issue any walks in the Blaze's 3-1 win.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it," Wright admitted. "I've never really been in that situation, and I was just trying to take it one pitch at a time. I left a fastball up and he hit it through the hole. So that kind of took care of that."
After being promoted from Class A Dayton on May 26, the 2013 10th-round pick was tagged for six runs over five innings against High Desert in his introduction to the California League, but has been excellent in the ensuing two outings. Before Monday's gem, he allowed just one run over eight innings against Stockton on June 4.
Overall, Wright is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA and a 9-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 20 innings.
"The Cal League is a hitting league and the hitters here are really good hitters," he said. "I had a rough first outing, so I kind of had to go back to the basics of pitching in and out and keeping the ball down. The last two games, it's worked out for me."
While facing just one more than the minimum for seven innings, Wright induced seven groundouts and six flyouts. He said he accomplished the feat without having great stuff.
"I had really good command," the 23-year-old said. "Actually, my fastball didn't feel great, so I had to focus on commanding it more so than normal. And that seemed to work out.
"I was just able to spot my fastball in and out and throw off-speed pitches for strikes and let my defense work behind me."
The Arkansas State University product posted a 3-2 record and a 2.06 ERA with 42 strikeouts against seven walks over 10 outings (seven starts) with Dayton. He did not expect to be called up so early in the year.
The jump from Class A to Class A Advanced has not been without its challenges, though.
"The hitters recognize pitches a lot better in this league than they did in Dayton," he said. "So I have to work more off my fastball, but other than that, it's pretty much the same game -- hit your spots and let your defense work behind you."
The Tennessee native certainly did that Monday, and as a result, he found himself courting a perfect game.
"It's something that you want to happen, but you don't really expect it to happen," Wright said. "So I couldn't really be too disappointed."