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Leesman, Barons one-hit Mudcats09/02/2010 12:27 AM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
Birmingham starter Charlie Leesman will be the first to tell you that he doesn't have overpowering stuff.
The lefty White Sox prospect doesn't have a fastball in the high 90s and he doesn't make hitters swing over the kind of curveball that looks like it rolled off the edge of a table. Instead, he relies on pinpoint location and pitching to contact, letting his defense make plays behind him and forcing the hitters to get themselves out.
On Wednesday, Leesman's new mentality led him to his best professional outing. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over seven innings in the Double-A Barons' 5-0 win over the Carolina Mudcats.
Deunte Heath and Anthony Carter shut down Carolina over the final two frames to complete the one-hitter.
"I used to always have a high pitch count because I tried to strike everyone out," Leesman said, "but then I realized that I'm just not a strikeout pitcher.
"Other guys would have eight or nine strikeouts every time and I would have four or five at the most. Pitchers love strikeouts and I never wanted to let that go. It was tough at first but once I realized that, it made everything a lot easier."
Leesman (5-2) got 12 ground-ball outs, struck out five and didn't allow a hit through four innings. Feliz Perez walked to start the game and, in the fifth, the former 11th-rounder gave up a two-out flare to Jake Kahaulelio. Neither of the two Birmingham baserunners made it past first.
"It felt great tonight," Leesman said. "I brought my slider back out, my curve was sharp and I kept my fastball down.
"That's my gameplan every time. I might have six or seven strikeouts in a game, but I'm not an 11- or 12-type of guy. Getting ground balls and hitting my locations are huge, and with that sinking fastball, I can let them get themselves out."
The 23-year-old faced the minimum through the first 4 2/3 innings, retiring 13 in a row after the walk. He set down the Mudcats in order five times before the broken-bat bloop to shallow left field put an end to his no-no bid.
"It was a great pitch," the Xavier product said. "[Kahaulelio] took an 0-2 pitch in on his hands and the catcher came out and said to throw the same pitch again. It was just below his shoulders and he broke his bat and it just went over the shortstop, so he deserves all the credit in the world.
"You are aware of [the no-hitter], but it is one of those things where if I never throw a no-hitter it is not a big deal."
Leesman settled for seven innings of shutout baseball instead, striking out Carlos Mendez to end the inning and keep Carolina off the board.
"What helped a lot was that we had great defense," the southpaw said. "My shortstop and second baseman were amazing for me, stopping ground balls that looked like they might squeeze through. Any time you have your defense behind you it makes you feel like you can throw any pitch at any time."
Despite only throwing 82 pitches, Leesman wasn't allowed to return for the eighth.
"Heath and Carter have been lights-out," he said. "They both throw hard and locate their pitches, but their offspeed stuff is just as good as their hard stuff."