In the Northwest League, many players are looking to make an introduction in one of their initial tastes of professional baseball. Anderson Placido put his name in front of eyes everywhere on Sunday.
The D-backs prospect matched a career high with 12 strikeouts while allowing three hits over 5 1/3 innings as short-season Hillsboro blanked Everett, 3-0, at Everett Memorial Stadium.
In his season debut, Placido (1-0) was nearly untouchable. He retired his first 12 batters faced before Chris Mariscal singled leading off the fourth. Mariscal was immediately picked off and caught stealing by catcher Elvin Soto, and Placido retired the next two AquaSox to keep his stretch of facing the minimum intact.
"He was attacking the zone with aggression," Hops manager J.R. House said. "He had a good fastball working tonight, a real live arm, and he was able to get his off-speed over for strikes and for putaway pitches, as well. Our catcher, Elvin Soto, knows him pretty well. They've been around each other the last few months, getting to know each other through extended spring [training]. They worked really well together."
Placido pitched around a leadoff double in the fifth before running out of gas an inning later. After issuing a leadoff walk to Taylor Smart, the 20-year-old southpaw struck out Arby Fields to match the mark he set last July 28 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
Mariscal singled again, ending Placido's outing.
"Everybody's on a pitch count," House said. "We have meeting after meeting about who we need to protect, who we can push, how far they can go, their pitch count, how many innings, how many ups and downs, all those things. We're very well-versed on what we can expect to take a guy to."
Hillsboro jumped into the lead in the top of the first when Todd Glaesmann cashed in Pedro Ruiz's one-out single with an RBI double. Glaesmann scored one out later on Grant Heyman's base hit. Acquired from the Rays organization during the offseason, Glaesmann briefly decided to retire before announcing on Twitter last month that he would return to baseball. The 23-year-old outfielder has provided a spark for Hillsboro, going 2-for-3 on Sunday to raise his average to .500 through three games.
"It's been huge for us, an older guy that we can lean on in our lineup," House said. "I've hit him third every day so far and, eventually, I'm going to have to take him out and let him regroup a little bit. We're just trying to help him get to where he needs to be. Hopefully for him, it's sooner than later, and he can go on to bigger and better things."
After Placido's exit, three Hops relievers combined to counter five walks with six more strikeouts, bringing the team's total to 17. Of those, 10 were on called third strikes, including the final seven. Jake Roberts walked the bases loaded in the ninth but picked up his first Minor League save.
"All pitchers like to strike guys out. The key is to not fall in love with it and try to make it happen sooner rather than later," House said. "We've also gotten to some problems with that where you can see them going for the strikeout and they end up throwing too many pitches or walking guys because they're trying to be perfect as opposed to working toward contact. The earlier we can make contact in the at-bat, the better off it is and the farther the starters can go into games when they learn that."
Everett's Ramire Cleto (0-1) gave up three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four in 5 2/3 innings.