Yankees' Medina spins five hitless frames

No. 28 New York prospect dazzles in fourth Appy League outing

Jose Medina has picked up 34 strikeouts over 34 2/3 innings since debuting in the Dominican Summer League last year. (Pulaski Yankees)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | August 16, 2017 12:38 AM

Gerardo Casadiego found himself in a tough spot Tuesday night.

The Pulaski pitching coach watched as Luis Medina zipped through 15 outs in a seven-inning game, and he knew he was going to have to pull the 18-year-old fireballer sooner than either of them would like.

"I was in big trouble because, for the most part, we want to keep him at five innings," Casadiego said. "We're looking out for his future. We're focused on that. For us, it doesn't matter if he goes out and throws a no-hitter every time he pitches [at this level]. We're much more focused on his future."

For that reason, New York's No. 28 prospect was done after working five hitless frames, earning his first Appalachian League win while striking out seven and walking two as the Rookie-level Yankees' 6-0 shutout of the visiting Bristol Pirates in the nightcap.

Box score

"The guy had great focus in this outing. He put it all together," Casadiego said. "He was able to transfer the work we did between outings into this start -- he did a good job transferring thiat. Everything that we worked on between outings, he put in place in the game. It was huge for him to be able to do that."

Medina (1-1), who signed out of the Dominican Republic at age 16 in July 2015, made his stateside debut with 4 1/3 scoreless frames for Pulaski on July 26. Things proved dicier for him over the next two starts, as he surrendered a total of 10 runs -- nine earned -- without getting out of the third in either outing. He learned from those experiences, leaning less on his 75-grade, triple-digit fastball in Tuesday's gem.

"The focus is the main thing and keep his body working on the control, finish over the throw side consistently," Casadiego said. "Everything was under control. We know he can hit 100 miles per hour, but we want him to slow down, work with the ball down and work on his control. Tonight, he was at 96-99. He's working on the control and [eventually] he'll be able to hit 100 [with precision]. We want him working with less effort and to let the body work."

Medina started the game by striking out the side in order in the first inning, and he cruised from there. After punching out the first two in the fifth, he walked Nelson Jorge on four pitches. Casadiego was pleased when Medina rebounded with another whiff.

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"That was good to see, a young kid be able to make the adjustment. That's something we worked on: 'Try to make the adjustment in the game.' He was able to do that," the veteran of 11 pro seasons said. "I had a lot of confidence he was going to be able to, because we work on that a lot, but that was good to see in an 18-year-old kid."

After 61 pitches -- 36 strikes -- Medina was done.

"He gets it, but at the same time, I made sure he understands what we're trying to do," Casadiego. "I know in the future he's going to be able to throw a no-hitter if he stays healthy and everything goes well. It's not going to be his [only chance]. He has the stuff to do it, and he understands that we're not the most focused on the results right now."

Wellington Caceres gave up Bristol's only hit to start the sixth when Luis Perez lined a single to left field. He picked up his first save by shutting the door after that as Pulaski swept the doubleheader after edging Bristol, 11-10, in the first game.

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Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka, rehabbing a rib cage injury that put him on the disabled list in June, swatted two long balls to plate three runs, and he caught all seven innings.

"Higgy, he's a great receiver," Casadiego said. "We know that. That [boosts] the confidence [for Medina] a little bit. It's good to have him here."

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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