McCanna helps Hillsboro flirt with no-hitter

D-backs prospect debuts with 5 1/3 innings of hitless relief

Kevin McCanna was 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 29 games across two levels in 2016. (Craig Mitchelldyer/Hillsboro Hops)

By Michael Leboff / MiLB.com | August 5, 2017 10:53 PM ET

A week ago, Kevin McCanna was pitching in an independent league, hoping for a second chance in the Minor Leagues.

That came on Saturday night and he did not disappoint.

Making his organizational debut, the D-backs right-hander pitched 5 1/3 innings of hitess relief -- striking out nine and walking two -- as Class A Short Season Hillsboro blanked Vancouver, 6-0, at Ron Tonkin Field.

"I didn't expect to go out there and throw five-plus innings of no-hit ball," McCanna said. "It was an awesome feeling coming off the mound and having the fans cheering for me. I was just glad to go out there and give our team a chance to win."

Video: Hops' McCanna racks up ninth K


Gameday box score


After being released by the Astros on April 1, McCanna signed with Sioux City of the American Association and posted a 2.95 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings.

"Being as young as I am in my career, I wasn't ready to hang it up. Sioux City gave me a shot and I thought let's run with it and try and get back into affiliated ball," the Joliet, Illinois, native said.

On Thursday, McCanna was given a second shot. 

"Thankfully, the Diamondbacks were willing to give me an opportunity and I'm really happy to be here," the 2015 13th-round pick said. "It was an awesome feeling to get the call from Arizona. It was what I was working for the whole season. My coaching staff back in Sioux City did a great job of hyping me up, so to speak. And then when they called, I was ecstatic."

D-backs No. 30 prospect Brian Shaffer started the game and hurled two perfect innings for the Hops. The 2017 sixth-round pick struck out two and threw 14 of 17 pitches for strikes. 

McCanna took over and retired seven in a row before issuing a one-out walk to Riley Adams in the fifth. The Rice University product rebounded with two quick outs to keep the no-hit bid intact.

"I was just trying to get ahead with my fastball and follow the curveball after that. I had success throwing strikes like that and got a lot of ground balls and flyouts," McCanna said. 

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The 23-year-old took it to the next level in the sixth and seventh as he didn't allow a baserunner and struck out five.

"I tried not to think about it too much, but towards the fifth or sixth inning or so, I kind of realized what was going on," McCanna said. "I was feeling good, throwing a lot of strikes and the defense was working well behind me so I just tried to keep that going."

He issued a walk and recorded his career-high ninth whiff before being replaced by Matt Brill with one out in the eighth.

"I just want to make a good impression. I want to be known as a strike-thrower and go out there and give my team five or six innings of good, quality baseball," McCanna said.

After walking the first batter he faced, Brill induced a double play to put the Hops three outs away from the second no-hitter in team history. The bid ended when Norberto Obeso led off the ninth by punching a single to left field. 

Video: Vancouver's Obeso thwarts no-no

"Nobody ever wants to go out there and give up the hit, but he pitched his butt off. He made a good pitch, but Obeso just happened to put it down the line and hit it where nobody was," McCanna said.

After Brill uncorked a wild pitch and walked two to load the bases, Erbert Gonzalez came on and struck out two of three batters to end the game. 


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Pavin Smith, Arizona's top prospect and ranked No. 72 overall by MLB.com, went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. The 2017 first-round pick has an .853 OPS in 34 games with the Hops.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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