Bubic nearly unhittable for Blue Rocks

No. 6 Royals prospect allows just ninth-inning single in shutout

Kris Bubic has gone the distance his last two starts, allowing one run while striking out 22 over 18 frames. (Wilmington Blue Rocks)

By Rob Terranova / MiLB.com | August 16, 2019 12:02 AM

By his own admission, Kris Bubic was feeling butterflies Thursday night.

The 21-year-old was dealing a no-hitter through eight innings. He didn't know exactly what his pitch count was, but assumed he was close to a hook. He wanted the milestone.

After yielding a knock on the second pitch of the ninth and having that runner move into scoring position, Bubic thought his night was over as Class A Advanced Blue Rocks manager Scott Thorman headed toward the mound. He was wrong.

Gameday box score

Kansas City's sixth-ranked prospect stayed in the game, struck out the next two batters and induced a groundout to complete the one-hitter. Bubic struck out 11 and walked one over nine innings as Wilmington blanked Lynchburg, 1-0, at Frawley Stadium.

"I don't want to say it (stinks), cause it doesn't (stink), a lot of good tonight. But I wanted it," he said. "When I saw [Thorman] come out after the hit and I knew I had a longer outing last time out, I figured my night was over. But he actually just asked me if I was going to finish the game, and I said, 'Of course.' And that's what happened.

"I'm just glad he left me out there and trusted me to finish it off. I mean, it's not like it was in the bag. That's the tying run out there, so obviously we're still trying to finish it off at that point, and that's just where my focus went right there."

Bubic (6-3) faced the minimum through eight innings because after allowing a leadoff walk to Steven Kwan on four pitches in the fourth, he induced a flyout to right field from No. 4 Indians prospect Tyler Freeman and catcher MJ Melendez -- Kansas City's ninth-ranked prospect -- threw out Kwan attempting to swipe second. Mitch Reeves grounded out to short to end the frame.

"Honestly, through those first eight, I got a lot of help from my defense," Bubic said. "There was some good contact against me, but the guys behind me made some great plays all night. They were doing it all."

The 2018 40th overall selection coasted from there -- delivering eight-pitch innings in the fifth, sixth and seventh. After recording the first out on one pitch in the eight, Bubic whiffed 18th-ranked Will Benson and Jonathan Laureano to get through the frame with his total pitch count at 87.

"Everything was working for me, I had the whole mix going," he said. "The changeup was my go-to off-speed pitch in the first half. I didn't really have a great feel for my curveball early on. But then I kind of found [the curveball] and was able to throw it where I wanted it and I rode that the latter half of the game. I could put it around the zone or in the zone, so it was all good.

"Honestly, the whole night I felt pretty calm. I knew the whole time what was going on, but it wasn't until the bottom of the eighth that I first felt some butterflies. I got through that, but then my warm-up pitches when I went out there to start the ninth were really bad."

The only blemish on the left-hander's night came from that leadoff single to left by Jason Rodriguez in the ninth. A wild pitch moved the tying run to second, but after his brief chat with Thorman, Bubic punched out Cody Farhat and Luke Wakamatsu -- both looking -- before getting Kwan to ground out to second to seal the victory.

"I threw him (Rodriguez) a first-pitch curveball for a strike, and actually, I shook off Melendez, who called for another curveball because I wanted to go for a fastball in," Bubic said. "I got it in there pretty good, but he just yanked it into left field. But that happens.

"Then on the wild pitch I threw a changeup and I babied it a little bit too much. I didn't want to leave it over the middle, so I said if anything it'll bounce in the dirt, but I bounced it a little too far in front. ... But I was fully aware of the situation and I knew I didn't have any margin for error there with the trying run on in the ninth. So again, I was just glad my manager trusted me to finish the game and my focus was to do just that."

2019 MiLB include

The Stanford product locked down a "Maddux" as he completed the nine-inning, shutout on 99 pitches -- 67 for strikes.

"I had no idea how many pitches I threw until I checked the chart after the game, but I was really glad to see that," Bubic said. "Usually I run my pitch counts up a fair amount, so I was just really glad for quick outs and rode that momentum with the team the rest of the game."

After No. 8 Royals prospect Kyle Isbel led off the fourth with a triple, 10th-ranked Nick Pratto scratched across the only run of the game by legging out an RBI single to second with two outs in the inning.

Lynchburg starter Juan Hillman (4-12) yielded one run on five hits and a walk over 7 1/3 frames. The southpaw fanned eight and threw 60 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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