Alex Colome moved up to the International League on Friday, but the results looked like he was still pitching in the Southern League.
The Rays' No. 13 prospect struck out four and gave up two hits over six shutout innings as the Durham Bulls defeated the Gwinnett Braves, 5-3.
Colome, who did not figure in the decision, walked four and faced five batters over the minimum. He threw 59 of 98 pitches for strikes and ended by fanning the last two batters he faced.
"He was extremely impressive," Rays Minor League pitching coordinator Dick Bosman said. "He threw a lot of strikes and got some strikeouts when he needed it. The kid went out there and was as advertised. He went out there and did the things he's been doing all year. It was just nice to see him get settled in after the first inning and get rolling a little bit. He's the real deal."
Colome was promoted following a scorching July in which he was 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts for Double-A Montgomery. He ended his stint in the Southern League with an 8-3 record, 3.48 ERA and 75 strikeouts over 75 innings.
"It's nice to see him move up the ladder after doing what he needed to do in Double-A, basically get that cutter to where he could throw it behind in the count," said Bosman, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1966-76. "His change has come a long ways and he's been able to command the fastball down in the zone.
"It has a lot more meaning when you've been at the knees at 96 mph and then you can throw the fastball at the letters. You're going to get guys to chase that a bit more."
The Braves put only two runners in scoring position against Colome. Luis Durango walked to lead off the game and moved up on a wild pitch, before the native of the Dominican Republic retired the next three batters. In the fifth, Josh Kroeger drew another leadoff walk and J.C. Boscan singled with one out, but Colome got Durango to ground into an inning-ending double play.
And while Bosman was pleased with what he saw from Colome on Friday, he said the 23-year-old right-hander has some more work to do before he can conquer Triple-A.
"I think ... that he's going to find out that he needs to be more aggressive early in the count, which will keep his pitch count down," Bosman said. "It wasn't very much of a factor tonight because the fastball and the cut fastball were effective. But it will be as we go along."
Adam Liberatore (1-0) was credited with his first Triple-A win after allowing one hit in the seventh. After Frank De Los Santos surrendered three runs in the eighth, Dane De La Rosa pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 14th save.
Stephen Vogt tripled and drove in three runs for the Bulls, who got three hits and a run scored from Jesus Feliciano. Rehabbing Rays third baseman Evan Longoria walked in five plate appearances.