Jon Duplantier continues to dispel the idea that the California League is a hitters' circuit.
The D-backs' No. 2 prospect gave up an unearned run on two hits and two walks and a career high-tying nine strikeouts in Class A Advanced Visalia's 4-0 loss to Stockton on Saturday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Duplantier (4-2) collected a whiff in every inning and struck out the side in the first and third.
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"I kind of had the stuff that played like that tonight," the right-hander said. "It was a good thing that it was because I walked more guys than I would like. It was just one of those nights you go out there and you really don't know how it's going to go."
Duplantier posted four punchouts while retiring six of the first seven batters. In the third, he walked Nate Mondou and hit Jake Smolinski with a pitch two batters later, before Sheldon Neuse reached on an error by second baseman Fernery Ozuna that allowed Mondou to score.
"It just ended up being a long inning for me," the 23-year-old said. "I think I ended up throwing 31 [pitches] or something along those lines, and it felt like it. It was just weird. Hit-by-pitch, hadn't been doing that too much this year … it just felt like an eternity."
Duplantier bounced back to work around a pair of baserunners and pitch a scoreless fourth before retiring the side in order in the fifth.
He threw 59 of 90 pitches for strikes at that point, which led Visalia manager Shelley Duncan to call on reliever Nick Baker. The 2016 third-round pick said he understood the decision, but still felt a twinge of disappointment.
"I always like going deep into games, kind of save the bullpen and give our team the best chance I can," he said. "Plus, I only get to go once every fifth day, so I kind of want to get my money's worth, you know?... But I wasn't upset when they pulled me. I have a lot of faith in our bullpen and the coaching staff and the decisions they make."
Duplantier also fanned nine on July 27 against Lake Elsinore. The Rice University product lowered his California League ERA to 1.87, which would lead the circuit if he hadn't spent the first half of the season with Class A Kane County in. In eight starts with the Rawhide, Duplantier has fanned 52 and walked 18.
"Just keeping the ball down in the zone," the Newark, Delaware, native said. "I felt like I've been doing that pretty well and elevating when necessary. I've been learning how to follow a game plan, not just get up there and throw. I try to learn every outing, every day, to be honest."
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Stockton starter Dalton Sawyer (3-4) yielded four hits with a walk and five strikeouts over five frames.
Mikey White provided insurance for the Ports with a three-run double in the eighth.