Avila strikes out 17 on record-setting night

Padres right-hander sets TinCaps' single-game franchise mark

Pedro Avila sports a 6-1 record with a 3.23 ERA through 10 starts in the Midwest League. (Fort Wayne TinCaps)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | August 8, 2017 10:47 PM ET

Pedro Avila set a record-setting tone for the Class A TinCaps on Tuesday night.

The San Diego right-hander struck out a franchise-best 17 batters over eight innings and Fort Wayne added a team record by drawing 14 walks en route to a 4-1 win in 10 innings at Great Lakes.

Avila's night proved to be one of the most dominant in Minor League Baseball this year, even after a shaky start. The 20-year-old struck out the side in the first inning, then yielded a one-out infield single to No. 9 Dodgers prospect Gavin Lux and a run-scoring double by Cody Thomas before whiffing Starling Heredia and Carlos Rincon swinging.

Video: Fort Wayne's Avila strikes out 17th batter

After the first, Avila allowed just one more hit, Jared Walker's two-out double in the second. Avila fanned Moises Perez to close the frame, kicking off a stretch in which the righty retired the final 19 batters he faced.

"Both teams battled well. We fought as well as we could have," Great Lakes manager Jeremy Rodriguez told the Midland Daily News. "(Avila) was a pretty good pitcher. We did a pretty good job battling. It just didn't fall our way this time."

Avila's strikeouts punctuated nearly every inning. Only in the third did the Loons escape without a K, and Avila retired the side in order that frame on three straight groundouts. Perez again struck out to finish the sixth, the first of nine whiffs of Avila's last 10 batters.

Gameday box score

In 261 1/3 career innings in the Minor Leagues, Avila sports 319 strikeouts, a trait that lured the Padres to him when they acquired the Caracas, Venezuela native from the Nationals in a December trade for big league catcher Derek Norris.

"Good delivery, good arm action, three-pitch mix," San Diego general manager A.J. Preller told MLB.com at the time. "We'll be developing him as a starting pitcher and feel like he's got a chance to be a big league starter."

With his penultimate strikeout of the night, Avila broke a 24-year-old Fort Wayne club record. LaTroy Hawkins fanned 15 Cedar Rapids Kernels on June 25, 1993 during the inaugural season of the franchise, then known as the Wizards.

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The TinCaps pitching staff -- led by starters Adrian Morejon, Roland Bolanos, Michel Baez and Avila - surrendered nine runs on 18 hits combined in their four-game sweep of the Loons.

Fort Wayne's offense also established a theme for the night in the first. San Diego's No. 4 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. walked to start the game, setting in motion a patient night for his lineup. After nine innings, the TinCaps had matched a franchise record with 13 walks, but had just one run on one hit to show for it.

Things changed in the 10th. Fort Wayne leadoff man Hudson Potts was hit by Evy Ruibal's pitch to open the inning and moved to second on a passed ball charged to Great Lakes catcher Connor Wong. When Nate Easley laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Potts to third, Wong's throw to first was errant, enabling Potts to score the go-ahead run. After Jack Suwinski singled to right, Tyler Selesky walked to load the bases and establish the new mark on the TinCaps' 14th free pass of the game.

Tatis brought home a run with a sacrifice fly to center and Suwinski scored on a fielding error by Loons first baseman Nick Yarnall.

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Fort Wayne got the win despite going 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position and being outhit, 4-2. The two pitching staffs combined to strike out 30 batters, but the TinCaps walked only three.

In his second inning of relief, Evan Miller (1-1) worked around a two-out walk to finish off the victory.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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