Ryan Borucki was promoted twice last summer, ending up with Triple-A Buffalo. Midway through his first full season with the Bisons, he's putting himself in position for the ultimate callup.
Toronto's No. 8 prospect pitched a three-hitter for his first International League complete game, striking out four and walking one, as Buffalo beat Pawtucket, 4-0, in the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader at McCoy Stadium.
Gameday box score
Borucki got his first taste of Triple-A ball with one appearance to close out 2017, a six-inning, six-hit scoreless start against Pawtucket on Aug. 31, but he said starting off in the International League feels completely different.
"It's a new beast," he said. "You see just how good these hitters are. They make you work and make you throw good pitches. They're not going to swing at uncompetitive stuff. My last starts haven't been as sharp, so I've been working in my bullpens this week and it finally paid off. I just need to keep the ball rolling."
Staked to a 3-0 lead before he took the mound, Borucki (6-5) set down his first five batters, striking out two, and worked around a two-out walk in the second inning. In the third, he gave up a leadoff single to Ramon Flores but picked up an assist from his infield as Mike Miller grounded to third baseman Jason Leblebijian, who started a double play.
Video: Buffalo's Borucki strikes out Ohlman
"That was huge, how the offense got to a great start. I felt comfortable already with that lead and everything started working well," Borucki said. "But [the double play] that was huge. Stuff like that keeps the momentum from shifting, and I went back to the dugout with our confidence building. We just tried to keep that going in the dugout."
Borucki faced one over the minimum into the seventh, when he encountered his only trouble. The left-hander gave up infield singles to big league veterans Rusney Castillo and Adam Lind, then fanned Mike Ohlman, got fifth-ranked Red Sox prospect Sam Travis to line out to shortstop Gift Ngoepe and closed things out by retiring Mike Olt on a foul pop to catcher Danny Jansen, the Blue Jays' No. 6 prospect.
The Buffalo starter said his experience throwing at so many different levels has taught him not to let rough starts rattle him.
"It was just a couple infield hits. I just wanted to keep making good pitches and I struck out the next guy," he said. "I wasn't too nervous with a 4-0 lead."
With only one potential promotion left, Borucki said he's recognized of getting more consistent with his delivery. He gave up 10 hits, eight runs and eight walks over 12 2/3 innings in his previous two starts.
"Sometimes I get a little sloppy," he said. "Sometimes when things are going good, I don't think about things, no necessarily coasting, but getting comfortable."
Rehabbing Jays outfielder Steve Pearce gave Borucki and the Bisons the early lead with a three-run homer off Pawtucket's Jalen Beeks, Boston's No. 15 prospect.
The Red Sox turned the tables in the nightcap, blanking Buffalo, 6-0, as Fernando Rodriguez Jr., 26th-ranked Williams Jerez and Ryan Brasier combined on a four-hitter. Tzu-Wei Lin mashed a two-run homer.