When players get promoted, they often need some time to acclimate to a new level. Clarke Schmidt isn't one of those players.
The Yankees No. 5 prospect pitched into the seventh inning in his second start for Double-A Trenton and kept visiting New Hampshire scoreless, allowing two hits over 6 2/3 innings in the Thunder's 4-0 win at ARM & HAMMER Park. Schmidt matched his season high with nine strikeouts and walked none, a feat he hadn't accomplished since his April 4 season debut for Class A Advanced Tampa.
Gameday box score
"My breaking ball was working really well, and I was working up and down in the zone with the two and four-seamers," Schmidt said. "I was throwing changeups for strikes as well, commanding the zone and attacking hitters. Just staying ahead and getting quick outs."
Schmidt (1-0) got off to an inauspicious start, falling behind Vinny Capra 3-0 before the Fisher Cats second baseman lined a double to left on a 3-1 pitch. The 23-year-old right-hander was unfazed by the runner in scoring position, striking out Josh Palacios on five pitches before getting Cullen Large to fly out to left and whiffing Chad Spanberger to escape trouble.
"I was just getting out in front of myself, threw three really bad fastballs and just had to lock back in," Schmidt said. "I wasn't too worried after a leadoff double; if you start worrying about that, that's when you start giving up runs. My mentality was to stay locked in, get a strikeout or popout and get some quick outs."
Schmidt did just that over the next four innings, throwing 49 pitches and retiring all 12 batters he faced while watching his Thunder teammates stake him to a 2-0 lead. After two quick outs in the sixth, Capra struck again with a single to shortstop and advanced to second on a wild pitch from Schmidt, who once again locked in to strike out Palacios and end the frame.
New York's 2017 first-round pick out of South Carolina was on his way to another 1-2-3 inning in the seventh and induced what could have been an inning-ending groundout to first, but he dropped the toss from first baseman Brandon Wagner to extend the inning and end his own outing.
"I kind of had a feeling the seventh was my last inning, but after the error I felt I'd be out there for one more out," Schmidt said. "I felt I could get that guy out, but they went to bullpen and it worked out. We won the game and that's all that matters."
The start was a needed rebound for Schmidt, who allowed five runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings in his Trenton debut last Friday. Wednesday's bounceback outing proved that Schmidt isn't one to let a jump in competition -- or one rough start -- get to him.
"I think it's mentality over anything else," Schmidt said. "My stuff is always going to be there; I've always have really good stuff and the ability to command and control it. I don't let the moment get too big; I just try to embrace it, stay within myself and trust my abilities. I wasn't too worried about moving."
2019 MiLB include
Schmidt didn't pitch in 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, a couple months before the Yankees drafted him 16th overall, and he only made eight starts last year after returning to the mound. Despite a few stints on the 7-day injured list this season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound starter should reach 20 starts in his first full season and has no plans on easing up down the stretch.
"I want to finish the season strong, get on a good roll and show these guys I can pitch at any level," Schmidt said. "I believe in my abilities and work ethic, and everything I do off the field is going to show on the field. I want to continue to string good starts together and help this team in its playoff push, then go out and get ready to attack a big year next year."
The Thunder scored three of its four runs without the benefit of a hit, with one coming on a wild pitch from Fisher Cats starter Justin Dillon, one on a strikeout of Isiah Gilliam and another on a throwing error by first baseman Christian Williams. Max Burt logged the lone RBI with a run-scoring single in the sixth, and Zack Zehner, Kellin Deglan and Brandon Wagner each had two hits, with Zehner scoring twice.
Dillon (5-3) allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three over four innings for New Hampshire.