Jeff Brigham didn't make his 2017 debut until June 1, but he's quickly proving his health is not an issue after shoulder tendinitis disrupted his offseason.
Miami's No. 15 prospect didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning Monday as Class A Advanced Jupiter beat St. Lucie, 1-0, at First Data Field. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and struck out four over six innings.
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"I was cruising early -- did a great job locating my fastball, attacking them early and putting them away with some of my offspeed pitches," Brigham said. "I got into a nice groove those first three innings."
The 25-year-old right-hander threw 22 of his season-high 86 pitches in the fourth frame, walking Mets No. 20 prospect Jhoan Urena and ninth-ranked Peter Alonso with two outs -- both on 3-2 counts -- before Hammerheads second baseman Angel Reyes made a strong play to rob No. 11 Wuilmer Becerra of an RBI to end the frame.
"In that fourth inning, I kind of lost the feel for my fastball and got into long at-bats," Brigham said. "They were battling, fighting some good pitches and I lost two of them. Went 1-0 to [Becerra] trying to get my fastball back, got one down in the zone and [Reyes] made a great diving play to keep the no-no intact."
Brigham (2-0) retired six more straight before Mets No. 26 prospect Patrick Mazeika singled on a 1-2 count with two outs in the sixth to break up the no-hitter. The University of Washington product bounced back to get Urena to fly out to left to end the inning and his outing.
"I'd gone in on [Mazeika] twice and got him out both times," Brigham said. "I tried to go in off [the plate] and he was able to get a little jam shot over [first baseman Dustin Geiger's] to end [the no-hit bid], but I wouldn't have really made it to that point without my defense getting me to that point with two or three great diving plays."
Relievers Felipe Gonzalez, Ben Holmes and Tyler Kinley shut down St. Lucie over the final three frames to get Brigham his second win in three starts since returning from injury. The 2014 fourth-round pick of the Dodgers was scheduled to pitch in the Arizona Fall League before being sidelined with shoulder tendinitis, which pushed back his offseason preparation as well as his season debut.
"I didn't really start throwing until mid-January. They wanted to make sure I came back healthy and was feeling good," Brigham said. "I did a lot of rehab, a full throwing progression and made three starts in extended spring training, going three to four innings in each before I broke with Jupiter."
The 6-foot, 200-pound Washington native went 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA over his final 74 innings with Hammerheads in 2016 after a rough first half, and he's continued to build off that momentum this season. Brigham has allowed four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits and five walks while striking out 12 over 17 2/3 innings. He said he's feeling healthier than ever nearly five years removed from July 2012 Tommy John surgery that kept him on the sidelines for almost two seasons in college in addition to the recent shoulder issues.
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"The guys down here during rehab did a good job strengthening my shoulder. It's only been three outings, but my arm is bouncing back better than it ever has," Brigham said. "[Everything] from the throwing progression to the arm care in between, during and after my outings was structured really well and has put me in a position to be successful right away."
Jupiter catcher Roy Morales collected three of the team's six hits and drove in the lone run of the game with a one-out single to center field in the second inning.
Mets No. 3 prospect Justin Dunn (4-4) took the hard-luck loss after allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out three in five frames. Monday's outing was his sixth straight without allowing more than one run, dropping his ERA from 6.89 to 4.53.