Tyler Cloyd was scheduled to spend Opening Day with Double-A Reading. Instead, he made a spot start for Triple-A Lehigh Valley that he won't soon forget.
The Phillies prospect delivered a perfect game through six innings in his Triple-A debut Thursday en route to the IronPigs' 3-0 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Cloyd is the only starter in Lehigh Valley history to have tossed six perfect frames.
"I had fun tonight and now we'll see what happens from here," Cloyd told The Morning Call.
The 24-year-old right-hander was filling in for starter Dave Bush, who was suspended five games after throwing a pitch up and in following a home run in a Spring Training game Saturday. The suspension was announced Thursday, giving the IronPigs little time to make a move.
"They let me know [Wednesday] night and it was kind of a shock to me," Cloyd told The Morning Call.
The Nebraska native struck out eight in the contest, a number he matched in just two of his 22 starts last year. He also allowed only three balls out of the infield against a Yankees lineup that included eight players with big league experience.
"I kept thinking I just needed to go out there and throw strikes, keep pounding the strike zone and see what happens," Cloyd told The Morning Call.
Cloyd was removed after six frames, making way for No. 5 Phillies prospect Phillippe Aumont. The 23-year-old righty gave up the Yankees' first hit with one out in the seventh, when Raymond Kruml doubled on a line drive to center field, before getting out of the frame by striking out Steve Pearce and inducing a flyout by Jack Cust.
Jake Diekman and Michael Schwimer combined to toss the last two innings for the IronPigs, allowing just one walk between them.
Rich Thompson recorded the only RBI for Lehigh Valley, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third. The IronPigs scored their other two runs on shortstop Ramiro Pena's throwing error one batter later.
Selected in the 18th round of the 2008 Draft, Cloyd posted a 9-7 record with a 2.77 ERA between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading last year. In 146 innings -- 106 2/3 of which he tossed for the R-Phils -- he struck out 138 and walked only 22.
The righty went on to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, compiling a 4.35 ERA in 31 innings. Once again, he showed strong command, fanning 27 and walking seven.
Cloyd will likely be sent back down to Reading, as Bush's suspension will expire in time for his next start. It would not be a surprise, however, to see the Opening Day sensation donning an IronPigs uniform later this season.