When Jake Rogers suited up for his first professional full-season game, little did the 2016 third-round pick know that he'd help Elieser Hernandez bid for history.
"He was a great first pitcher to catch here," Houston's No. 27 prospect said. "I lucked out and ended up catching him, and it was a great start to catch."
Hernandez took a perfect game into the seventh and wound up allowing three hits while striking out eight over eight scoreless frames Thursday before Class A Quad Cities beat host Peoria 4-3, in 13 innings.
"It was awesome," said Rogers, who played 25 games in the New York-Penn League before his promotion. "I love the game, and when someone goes out there and pitches a game like that, it only makes it better. He had his stuff."
Hernandez, who pitched to a 9.10 ERA over eight appearances with Class A Advanced Lancaster earlier this season, matched his longest outing with Thursday's gem, having gone eight one-hit innings on July 4. His Midwest League ERA stands at 2.37 through 11 games -- nine starts -- and he set a career high with 14 punchouts two starts ago, but was roughed up for seven runs -- five earned -- on 11 hits and two walks through five innings last time out.
Working with his three-pitch mix (fastball, slider, changeup), Hernandez struck out three in the first three frames and kept coasting.
"He started out strong and finished strong. He had spectacular command and great ball movement on all his pitches. He got ahead of hitters and kept them off balance the whole game," Rogers said. "[The possibility of a no-hitter is] always at the back of your mind, but you try not to think about it and just stick to the plan and keep playing the game. You know it's there, but you just have to help the guy get through his start."
Sixth-ranked Cardinals prospect Magneuris Sierra led off the seventh with a soft grounder through the right side for a single. Rogers said he didn't see fit to take a trip to the mound or say anything to Hernandez.
"No, not at all," he said. "He just kept throwing and got out of the inning. I didn't say anything to him then either. It was a [heck] of an outing, and I didn't say anything to him until I told him that after."
Rogers wasn't surprised that the River Bandits coaching staff sent the Venezuelan-born hurler back to the hill for the eighth and stuck with him when he allowed singles to R.J. Dennard and Leobaldo Pina to open the frame.
"When you give up two or three hits, they're going to trust him with the inning," the backstop said. "He threw a spectacular start and earned the chance to keep going."
Back-to-back punchouts and his seventh groundout of the night got Hernandez through. He'd thrown 69 of 95 pitches for strikes.
"He [has] a bulldog mentality," Rogers said. "He wants to get hitters out, and he'll do anything to do it."
Rogers, a Tulane product, went 0-for-5. He hit .253/.369/.425 with 10 extra-base hits over 25 games with Class A Short Season Tri-City.
Kyle Tucker, MLB.com's No. 60 overall prospect, went 3-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and a walk for the River Bandits. Ryne Birk also was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a walk. He scored twice, including the go-ahead run.
Peoria starter Derian Gonzalez gave up a run on four hits without a walk while striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings.