FireFrogs' Caicedo nearly makes history

Braves prospect loses no-hit bid with two outs in ninth inning

Oriel Caicedo fell one out short of tossing the first no-hitter in Florida FireFrogs history. (Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees)

By Michael Avallone / | August 12, 2017 9:44 PM ET

The last out, as Oriel L Caicedo learned Saturday night, can be the hardest one to get.

Nursing a 1-0 lead and one out from pitching the first no-hitter in Class A Advanced Florida's brief history, the left-hander allowed a single to right by Mason Davis for Jupiter's first hit. Colby Lusignan followed with an infield knock that tied the game and the Hammerheads walked off with a 2-1 10-inning win at Roger Dean Stadium.

Caicedo was charged with an unearned run on two hits with no walks with a season-high six strikeouts. The Braves prospect had three three-ball counts and completed the first nine-inning effort of his career, throwing 72 of 98 pitches for strikes.

With some help from pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn, a minor switch on the mound appears to have done the trick for the 23-year-old.

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"He was really good his last start, too. He didn't allow any runs [last Sunday against Bradenton] but he struggled a bit before that," the former big league hurler said. "He asked for any kind of suggestion and I mentioned throwing off the first-base side of the rubber instead of the third-base side. It gave him a different angle and a different look to the hitters. He tried it during his bullpen session and liked it.

"He's getting his fastball to the glove side and it's been easier for him to get it down and away to right-handers. He's getting the fastball in on left-handers and is creating a better angle with his breaking ball. I don't know if it will make him a Hall of Famer, but it's really given him a lot of confidence."

Caicedo hit Davis with his third pitch of the game, but he was the last Hammerheads baserunner until Cleuluis Rondon reached on a fielding error by first baseman Carlos Castro with one out in the ninth. In between, the native of Panama retired 21 straight -- including an immaculate inning in the seventh, when he struck out the side on nine pitches. 

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"I saw the same pitcher even after he gave up the hit," Lewallyn said. "It was one of the few mistakes he made all night. He just left a breaking ball up to [Davis] and he lined it past first. But he went right after the next two guys and executed. It was fun to watch.

"He was using his fastball on both sides of the plate and his breaking stuff was on point to lefties and righties. He worked ahead of virtually every hitter. It was just a really solid performance." 

Caicedo began the year with Class A Rome and posted a 5-2 record with a 3.20 ERA in 13 appearances, including three starts. He was promoted to the Florida State League on June 23 and had a 5.40 ERA in his first eight outings. The southpaw has not allowed a run in three of his last five starts and hasn't given up an earned run in 16 straight innings.

"He's always been aggressive on the mound, but he's getting more swings and misses with his off-speed stuff now," the pitching coach said. "He's executing better with his fastball and I think that's been the biggest thing for him. Now that he's moved over on the rubber, it's given him confidence and added to his aggressiveness. It wasn't a major change, but in his mind, it's made him more effective and that's what matters."

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Rondon's two-out single to right drove in the winning run for Jupiter, which received seven innings of relief from Pablo Lopez. The No. 23 Marlins prospect, who entered in the second after a scoreless first from rehabbing Kyle Barraclough and allowed a run on five hits with no walks and eight whiffs.

Felipe Gonzalez (2-2) allowed two hits, and fanned three in two scoreless innings to notch the win for Jupiter.

Braves No. 25 prospect Anfernee Seymour went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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