Nolan Gannon has produced two nearly identical starts for short-season Hudson Valley, much to the chagrin of New York-Penn League hitters.
The Rays prospect allowed one hit and struck out eight over six innings Friday night as the Renegades blanked Staten Island, 3-0, at Dutchess Stadium.
Gannon (2-0) set down the first 10 batters before giving up a one-out single in the fourth inning to Austin Aune. He issued one walk and recorded six outs on ground balls.
"My defense played great behind me, couple of hard-hit balls that were questionable, they could have dropped," the 20-year-old right-hander said. "I have confidence in my defense. That's a strategy I use each game -- rely on my defense and be efficient on the mound."
The eight strikeouts were a career high, even though Gannon didn't have his best pitch working against the Yankees.
"Normally, my go-to pitch is the changeup, but I didn't really have a good feel for that tonight," Gannon said. "I feel like my curveball really had them off-balance and opened up room for my fastball to work."
In his New York-Penn League debut on June 15, Gannon gave up one hit over five scoreless innings. Over two starts, the California native has allowed only five baserunners while recording 10 strikeouts in 11 frames.
"Obviously, two outings like that will bring somebody confidence," said Gannon, a 2012 fourth-round Draft pick. "I'm pretty confident right now. I'm just trying to get better each day."
Gannon's start to the season represents a turnaround from how his 2013 season unfolded. Pitching for Rookie-level Princeton in the Appalachian League last year, he went 1-5 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 appearances, including 10 starts.
"Maturity, no doubt," he said of the difference. "Mentally thinking about stuff, emotions, controlling yourself, controlling your thoughts. This game is really easy to go downhill. This year, I'm doing a better job of staying positive and doing what I need to do."
Isaac Gil struck out five while yielding two hits over the final three innings to notch his first save of the season.
Jace Conrad singled twice, drove in a run and scored once, while Wilmer Dominguez went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Renegades.
Staten Island starter Sam Agnew-Wieland (0-1) took the loss after giving up two runs -- one earned -- on three hits over four innings. He walked one batter and struck out three.