Jake Cronenworth is proving he's not just a threat in the batter's box.The two-way threat combined with Luis Santos and Cole Sulser on a seven-inning no-hitter Friday as Triple-A Durham beat Gwinnett, 5-0, in the first game of a doubleheader at Coolray Field.
Jake Cronenworth is proving he's not just a threat in the batter's box.
The two-way threat combined with Luis Santos and Cole Sulser on a seven-inning no-hitter Friday as Triple-A Durham beat Gwinnett, 5-0, in the first game of a doubleheader at Coolray Field.
Serving as the Bulls' opener, Cronenworth induced a soft groundout from Jack Lopez before striking out Andrés Blanco and Travis Demeritte in his only inning.
A pitcher throughout his amateur career, the right-hander has been enjoying his time back on the mound after discussing the idea with his coaches this spring.
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"I guess it was something that I did miss a little bit," Cronenworth said. "It's always fun to be out there competing. We talked about it in Spring Training ... had some talks, and once the season started just went from there and decided that I was going to do it."
In seven appearances, the University of Michigan product has served as the first-inning pitcher six times, only once making the transition in the middle of the game.
"I take sort of a closer's mentality to it, so you know you're going to be out there for one inning and you just have to attack the zone and do what you can," Cronenworth said.
Featuring a four-pitch arsenal with a two-seam fastball, four-seamer, cutter and curveball, it took the 25-year-old some time to get his arm back up to the strength required to be a competitive pitcher.
"It took a while throwing bullpens and managing my arm from bullpens to live batting practices to playing every day at shortstop or second [base], wherever I am that day," Cronenworth said. "I've built a good routine where I can keep it consistent throughout the week."
Does he see himself as someone who could stretch out and go more innings or is he comfortable with his current role?
"If there are plans down the line to throw two or three innings, obviously, I would have to build up for that, but right now I'm ready to go one inning," he said.
Santos (3-1) fanned two and worked around three walks over three innings. Sulser struck out six in three perfect frames to complete Durham's first no-hitter since July 16, 2016 when Justin Marksthrew 130 pitches in a 2-0 victory over Syracuse. It was the fifth no-hitter at the Triple-A level in team history.
Jason Coats led the Durham offense with a three-run homer in the first off Braves No. 8 prospect Kolby Allard in the first game.
In 7 1/3 innings this season, Cronenworth has allowed two unearned runs and four hits while striking out seven. At the plate, the 25-year-old shortstop leads the International League with a .346 batting average. He has 10 homers, four triples, 22 doubles, 41 RBIs, 38 walks and 57 runs scored in 73 games.
In the nightcap, Cronenworth went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base.
"I'm being a little more aggressive and taking more chances in certain counts," the Michigan native said of his approach at the plate. "Just always being on the attack and not taking any pitches off. My swing's a little different but not too much."
Luis Marté hit a walk-off two-run homer in the ninth as Gwinnett salvaged a split of the twinbill.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.