For Dane Stone, the longer his starts, the more successful he is.
In the longest outing of his career, the White Sox prospect allowed three hits over eight innings on Wednesday night to pitch Rookie-level Great Falls past Ogden, 9-0, at Lindquist Field.
"I was mixing my pitches well. One thing they stress a lot is throwing strikes, but if you can do that with multiple pitches, the ball's in your court," said Stone, the reigning Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week. "I only [gave up] three hits today, but a lot got ground balls and fly balls; I was just throwing to the bat and my defense did great."
A converted reliever, Stone (3-0) walked one batter and struck out six. He allowed a leadoff double to Julian Leon in the second before setting down 12 straight Raptors. The streak ended in the sixth with a leadoff walk to Hunter Redman, who moved up on a base hit by Devan Ahart. But Stone retired Michael Ahmed on a fielder's choice and ended the inning by getting Colin Hering on a fly ball to left field.
"You go out there and throw zeros up, definitely feel good about that. Throwing eight innings for the first time since college, it felt exciting," the 23-year-old right-hander said. "I'm more tired ... but my adrenaline is still pumping a little bit; mainly, I feel awesome. It's a milestone. As a reliever, you see guys throw seven, eight innings and you say, 'How'd they do that?' And now I did it."
The Marlins took Stone in the 25th round of the 2012 Draft, and he made 60 relief appearances over two Minor League seasons before he was released. Earlier this year, the independent River City Rascals offered him as job as a starter.
"I didn't know how to feel about that, so I thought I'd give it a shot and it worked out well. I signed with the White Sox and it's still going well," Stone said. "The Frontier League is designed to give second chances, and that's what it was for me."
While with the Rascals on a road trip last month, the St. Thomas University product got a call from the White Sox, who said he needed to get on a plane to work out in Arizona. He made his organizational debut on June 19.
Since joining Great Falls, Stone is unbeaten in six starts and leads the Pioneer League with a 1.21 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.
"I'm pretty comfortable here," he said. "When I was with Miami in [Low-A and High-A], unfortunately, those hitters come up and they are told to be patient and work the count. But at the lower levels, you see guys that are fresh out of college and are more aggressive, so they'll swing at any pitch. I'm trying to use that to my advantage."
One aggressive hitter who Stone is happy to have as a teammate is Zach Fisher, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, three runs scored and fell a triple shy of the cycle on Wednesday. Chevy Clarke contributed his fifth homer of the season, a solo shot in the fifth.