It was only last week that Ryan Carpenter was on the field in Cape Cod for the Orleans Firebirds, a Tampa Bay draftee without a contract pitching in a college summer league.
"I went to the Cape for four or five weeks and got a couple starts so they could watch me a little bit," Carpenter said. "But it's good to start playing."
Exactly a week later, the Rays got to see what they bought -- Carpenter threw five hitless innings Wednesday, throwing 61 pitches and striking out three for Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley in a 3-1 loss to Auburn.
"It was nice, it was good to get the first start under my belt," he said. "I got to experience my first pro start, and I'm glad I could help out."
Carpenter, humble after a dominating effort, was the Rays' seventh-round pick in the June Draft. His return to the Cape delayed his Minor League debut a few weeks. And with all the time to think about his eventual first start, was the lefty from Gonzaga nervous at all?
"A little bit, but I was kind of built up for this a little bit," he said. "I was ready for it, but then again, there's some nerves. I'm glad I got it under my belt."
Carpenter, in fact, had a few no-hitters under his belt -- he threw two of them in his senior year at Cactus High School in Peoria, Ariz., before attending Gonzaga University. The Rays selected him in the 21st round of the 2008 Draft, but he opted to stay in college, setting himself up for a higher round selection this summer.
The Rays assigned the 6-foot-5 starter to Hudson Valley, an affiliate that has seen Evan Longoria and Jeremy Hellickson suit up in recent years. Carpenter said his first taste of the Minors was a good one.
"It's hard to know what to expect, but I'm having a blast," he said. "The guys are great, the coaches are great, so I couldn't ask for more from the experience.
Carpenter retired the first four batters he faced before Caleb Ramsey reached on second baseman Raymond Church's fielding error. Carpenter got out of the inning and erased a leadoff walk in the third when he picked Connor Rowe off first. He set down the final eight batters he faced before reaching his pitch count after five.
"I mainly relied on my fastball and tried to get ahead of hitters later in the at-bats with my change-up and breaking pitches," he said. "I used the change to try and get the hitters off balance a little, and that seemed to work well for me."
Carpenter, 20, said he knew he had the no-hitter working well before taking a seat in the dugout.
"It was always in the back of my mind," he said. "Every pitcher kind of notices it as they go on, but I knew I had a pitch count limit and I just wanted to do my best."
Carpenter, who said he had a few missed calls from friends and family when he got to the clubhouse, understood why the Renegades pulled him.
"It's my first start, no need to push it too far. But then again, the circumstances are a little different," he said. "It was fun, I'm glad I got to do what I did."
He added that he hasn't set any expectations this early on for his first Minor League season.
"Just progress as much as I can ... just experience pro ball and adjust and work hard in everything I can."