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Weathersby gets hot in full-season debut

Astros prospect strikes out five in six shutout innings for JetHawks
April 13, 2016

Ahead of his California League debut, Scott Weathersby had heard all about the dangers of pitching there.

"People have talked about it. Our home ballpark is probably worse [for pitchers] than others, in Lancaster, but for me, I wanted to hone in on not giving up free things," he said. "I didn't want to give up a hit-by-pitch or a walk. Hits are going to come and if you're giving up walks and hit-by-pitches, the hits are going to multiply [the trouble]."

Making his full-season debut Wednesday, Weathersby succeeded in avoiding avoiding hit batters and walks, twirling six scoreless innings before Class A Advanced Lancaster dropped a 4-3 decision at Stockton.

"Last year in the New York-Penn League, they had us on a piggyback, so I only got a few starts here and there," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "It was cool to start my own game. It's been a long time since I've thrown six innings. It was cool to see [my stuff] evolve as the game went on. In the first couple innings, my curve wasn't very good, but it got better as the game went on."

The 2015 15th-round pick gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, James Harris, who was erased trying to steal second by JetHawks catcher Garrett Stubbs.

"Stubbs is really, really, good back there. He threw out three runners trying to steal tonight," said Weathersby, who gave up four hits and struck out five. "With Stubbs, when there's a guy on base, if you're quick to the plate you don't even have to worry about it. Having a guy back there as good as he is really helps you out as a pitcher. That helps you settle in, for sure."

It also helped Weathersby find his groove. He recorded six groundouts compared to three flyouts and never allowed two baserunners in the same inning.

"My fastball has some cutting action to it, so early a lot of guys were out getting ground balls," he said. "I was also trying to work down in the zone to start the game. I watched Stockton's hitters over the last couple games and if you elevate to them, you can get into trouble."

The Ole Miss product never went more than four innings for Class A Short Season Tri-City last year and his evening was over after he worked around Harris' two-out single by striking out three in the sixth. He threw 53 of 80 pitches for strikes.

"I asked our pitching coach [Mike Burns] where I was at after five because I knew I hadn't thrown too, too many," Weathersby said. "He said, 'No, you're going back out there.' They have us on kind of hybrid between a piggyback and doing your own game, and I had my own game. They give us some flexibility while still protecting our arms."

When Weathersby exited, Lancaster pitchers had gone 18 straight innings without issuing a walk. Reliever Ryan Thompson issued a leadoff pass to Joe Bennie in the eighth to end the streak.

"Our organization stresses balls in the zone from strike one," Weathersby said. "I was watching [Brock] Dykxhoorn yesterday. I was charting pitches behind home plate and he didn't walk anybody. I was trying to do the same."

Tyler Marincov doubled, singled and scored twice for Stockton. He reached on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Fernandez to start a ninth-inning rally that ended with John Nogowski's two-run walk-off double.

A's No. 25 prospect Daniel Gossett (1-0) started for the Ports and allowed three runs -- one earned -- on five hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings. Koby Gauna (1-0) worked a scoreless ninth for the win.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB.