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Manatees' Ponce fans career-high 12

Brewers No. 8 prospect gives up three hits over six scoreless innings
July 9, 2016

In a start in which Brewers No. 8 prospect Cody Ponce set career highs with 12 strikeouts and six scoreless innings, he was most satisfied with the fact that he didn't walk a single batter for the third straight outing. 

"My goal is to walk the least amount of people I can," he said. "Minimizing walks is something I strive for every time. Some people would say the 12 strikeouts is the best part of my outing, but to me it was the no walks. It's an organizational rule to limit the walks as much as we can."

In his seventh start of the season, Ponce allowed three hits on Saturday before Class A Advanced Brevard County fell, to Bradenton, 2-1, in 13 innings at McKechnie Field. It was the second straight scoreless outing for the 2015 second-round pick, who posted five zeros against Dunedin on July 4. 

"I talked with my catcher, Dustin Houle, and we went with what worked last time," Ponce said. "We established the fastball low and away and low and in. Then we worked off that with my off-speed stuff."

After beginning his outing with a 1-2-3 first and working around a single in both the second and the third, Ponce put on a clinic in the fourth and fifth, striking out six straight Marauders.

"I felt really strong in the beginning, but as I got deeper, I felt even better and more comfortable," the 22-year-old right-hander said. "We had a lot of trust in my changeup tonight and it served as a good setup pitch when I was behind in the count, and then the slider was the wipeout pitch. I have to give Dustin the credit tonight, I don't think I shook him off one time, and I trust my defense and that makes the strikeouts a lot easier to come by."

Ponce was able to work around a leadoff single to get through the sixth for the first time in his career. The Cal Poly Pomona product was efficient, throwing 52 of 73 pitches for strikes.

"My goal every night is to go all nine, no matter what," he said. "I think that's every starting pitcher's goal and tonight, six was my limit, and I got through it. I wanted to go one more, but that's the nature of the beast. You always want to keep going." 

After spending the first two months of the season in extended spring training to recover from forearm fatigue, Ponce made his season debut on June 8. He's pitched to a 3.24 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while fanning 29 and walking three in 26 innings.

"I've worked with my teammate, Kodi Medeiros, a lot on living over the zone," he said. "That's what they teach here; we call it living over the fat part of the plate. He's really helped me catch up to these guys and stay on track after I had a little bump in the road with the forearm fatigue."

Brewers No. 27 prospect Freddy Peralta took over for Ponce in the seventh. The 20-year-old right-hander allowed a run on two hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings in his Florida State League debut. 

Cole Tucker won it for Bradenton in the 13th with a walk-off single off Kender Villegas (4-5).

Marauders starter Jonathan Brubaker allowed a run on seven hits while fanning one over seven innings. Henry Hirsch (3-3) gave up a hit over two scoreless frames to pick up the win.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to