It was a long time coming, but Tuesday's game could hardly have gone better for Angels prospect Cam Bedrosian.
After missing the entire 2011 season recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, the Angels' first-rounder from 2010 made his full-season debut Tuesday afternoon, throwing 4 1/3 hitless innings in Cedar Rapids' 8-0, one-hit win over visiting West Michigan.
"It feels great to get back out there," he said. "My arm feels great, the results were good and I couldn't be happier with it."
The son of former Major Leaguer Steve Bedrosian, Cam struck out three and walked two in the longest outing of his brief career. The 20-year-old right-hander pitched 12 innings over five games in the Arizona Rookie League in 2010 before suffering the arm injury.
Bedrosian built up his strength in extended Spring Training, throwing an inning, then two, on up to about five innings and 70 pitches before the Angels assigned him to Cedar Rapids. He said the Kernels had him on a 50-pitch limit Tuesday.
At just 6-feet tall, Bedrosian doesn't have the classic power pitcher profile, but, entering the 2010 Draft, he possessed a power pitcher's arsenal, featuring a low-to-mid-90s fastball coupled with a slider and an emerging changeup.
"The velocity on my fastball isn't quite where it was before -- I've been told that getting that back can take 12-16 months, and I'm just over a year since the surgery -- but other than that everything felt like it did before the injury," he said. "The off-speed pitches are about as good as they've ever been.
"I couldn't throw for a good while there, but I think I was able to gain knowledge about how to pitch well."
Bedrosian was forced to work from the stretch right away, as West Michigan's leadoff hitter, Chad Wright, reached on a fielding error by Kernels first baseman Frazier Hall. Wright was quickly erased trying to steal second. Bedrosian issued a two-out walk to Whitecaps first baseman Aaron Westlake but got designated hitter Dean Green to ground out for the third out.
The Georgia native retired the next nine batters in order before walking Brandon Loy to open the fifth. A wild pitch sent Loy to second base -- the first Whitecaps baserunner to do so -- and Bedrosian was lifted after Curt Casali sacrificed Loy to third. He faced 15 batters and recorded seven groundouts, three flyouts and three strikeouts.
Reliever Joe Melioris came on with a man on third and one out, but proved equal to the task, fanning Danry Vasquez and getting Jason Krizan to fly out.
West Michigan got its only hit of the day when Loy laced a line-drive double to right with one out in the seventh. Melioris again escaped trouble by getting a pair of ground balls to keep the Whitecaps off the board. The 6-foot-11 right-hander improved to 2-0, allowing one hit and one walk while fanning two over 2 2/3 innings.
Frank DeJiulio and Ty Kelley tossed one perfect inning apiece to close out the one-hitter and give Cedar Rapids its first series win since sweeping Clinton from April 9-11.
"We were talking about the no-hitter, then the one-hitter on the bench -- a few of the guys said maybe I brought the team some good luck," Bedrosian said. He estimated that he'd played with about half the Kernels roster in the Arizona Rookie League in 2010.
A one-run game for six innings rapidly got away from the Whitecaps as Cedar Rapids scored twice in the sixth, added a fourth run in the seventh and tacked on four runs in the eighth. Eight different Kernels collected one hit apiece, with designated hitter Kaleb Cowart homering and driving in three runs. Right fielder Andy Workman plated a pair with an eighth-inning double.
West Michigan starter Brennan Smith nearly matched Bedrosian early, allowing just one hit through the first five innings. A two-out single by Ryan Jones followed by Cowart's homer with two outs in the sixth ultimately spoiled his strong outing. Smith fell to 1-2 after allowing three runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He owns a 2.21 ERA and has held Midwest League hitters to a .189 batting average in four starts.