Tony Cingrani impressed so many people in his rookie year with short-season Billings that the Reds decided to send the southpaw directly to Class A Advanced.
Despite bypassing the Midwest League in favor of the hitter-friendly California League, the former third-round pick justified the promotion with a dominant outing in his Blaze debut.
Cingrani allowed one hit and a walk while striking out five batters over six innings in Bakersfield's 5-2 victory over the visiting Visalia Rawhide.
Cincinnati's No. 14 prospect set the side down in order in the first inning, and he struck out consecutive hitters in the second to erase Bobby Borchering's one-out walk. A 1-2-3 third took his bid for a no-no into the fourth, but Chris Owings stroked a one-out single to left field.
Owings' hit was all the Rawhide could muster against the Rice product, who retired the final eight batters he faced before turning matters over to the bullpen.
"Me and [catcher Chris Berset] did a really good job of going inside-outside and hitting spots for the most part," Cingrani told The (Bakersfield) Californian. "We did a good job of mixing pitches, and I thought overall it was just a good effort."
Last season with Billings, Cingrani (1-0) went 3-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings. He held his Pioneer League opponents to a .190 batting average and he issued just six free passes in 13 starts.
On Sunday, the Blaze scored two runs in the third and three more in the fourth which proved more than enough to give Cingrani a win in his first start at the new level.
"Cingrani did an excellent job for six innings," Bakersfield manager Ken Griffey Sr. told the newspaper. "One hit. You can't ask for anything better than that today."
Berset was 2-for-2 with a walk and a run out of the No. 9 spot and Travis Mattair slugged a three-run homer, his first longball of the year.
Visalia starter Michael Bolsinger (0-1) gave up five runs -- three earned -- on five hits and a walk while striking out four batters over 4 1/3 innings.