Luis Heredia may still be getting accustomed to living in central Pensylvania, but Pittsburgh's No. 5 prospect
looked right at home on the mound in his State College debut Thursday.
The 17-year-old -- some 2,500 miles away from his home in Mazatlan on the West coast of Mexico -- allowed one hit over four innings as the Class A Short-Season Spikes blanked the Williamsport Crosscutters, 8-0.
"I wasn't nervous, my mentality is strong when pitching. That's how I am on the mound. I'm feeling strong today and I look to be consistent next game," Heredia told the Centre Daily Times.
"Throw strikes, attack the zone, get ground balls. I felt very good when pitching. ... It was a good first one and I'm ready for the next one."
Heredia allowed baserunners in three of his four innings, but he was able to work out of the jam each time behind some nifty defensive work by his infielders.
He stranded Roman Quinn -- who walked, stole second and took third on a popup -- in the first inning by getting Christopher Serritella to ground out to first base, and he induced a 6-4-3 double play to erase Larry Greene's one-out walk in the second.
After a perfect third frame, Heredia surrendered a one-out single to Brian Pointer. But the teen continued to pitch down in the zone and he got Serritella to hit into an around-the-horn twin killing.
"It was a little different, different setting, different country. I feel good. I like being here," Heredia said.
"This is my job here. My family [is] down there. I'm here doing my job working. They were probably on the Internet watching. I will call them later. They are happy I have this opportunity here and I have to take advantage of it."
Signed by the Pirates and given a $2.6 million bonus as a non-drafted free agent in 2010, Heredia -- who throws a fastball, a changeup and a curveball -- made 12 appearances for the team's Gulf Coast League affiliate last summer. Across 11 starts and one relief appearance, he went 1-2 with a 4.75 ERA. He struck out 23 batters and issued 19 walks over 30 1/3 innings and held hitters to a .257 average.
Heredia is considered the third-best right-hander coming through the system, behind highly regarded farmhands Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole, ranked No. 5 and 8 respectively in MLB.com's list of top 100 prospects.
"He's obviously very, very young and doesn't have a whole lot of experience," Spikes pitching coach Justin Meccage told the newspaper before the game. "He has come a long way in the last month and put himself in a position to come to State College. I like what I see. But it will be a growing process. If we can get better every time out, that's what we are looking for."
On Thursday, Joan Montero (1-0) struck out four batters over two hitless innings, and Jordan Cooper worked around one hit over two frames of relief. Logan Perry struck out one batter and scattered a hit in the ninth to complete the shutout.
Spikes second baseman and leadoff hitter Jodaneli Carvajal was 3-for-3 with a pair of triples, two walks, two RBIs and a run scored. He matched the Spikes' single-game record with the two triple-baggers.
Center fielder Barrett Barnes, the Pirates' supplemental first-round Draft choice in 2012, not only picked up his first professional hit, but a total of three in five at-bats. He drove in two and scored once out of the No. 3 spot.
Williamsport starter Jonathan Musser (0-1) allowed three runs on two hits and four walks while striking out one batter over two innings in the loss. Right fielder Pointer recorded two of the Crosscutters' three singles.