Kris Bubic started and ended his outing Friday night with punchouts. And there were lots more in between.The Royals' No. 9 prospect racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts over six innings and notched his first full-season win as Class A Lexington topped Columbia, 8-4, at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Kris Bubic started and ended his outing Friday night with punchouts. And there were lots more in between.
The Royals' No. 9 prospect racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts over six innings and notched his first full-season win as Class A Lexington topped Columbia, 8-4, at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Bubic (1-0) struck out the side in the second, third, and sixth innings. He allowed three hits and two unearned runs in his second South Atlantic League start. The 12 whiffs surpassed his previous best of 10, which he did twice last season with Rookie Advanced Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League.
"I think I had a good week of prep," said Bubic, who surrendered four runs over five innings in his first start April 6. "I felt comfortable tonight. We had a great scouting report."
The No. 40 overall pick in last year's Draft, Bubic threw 59 of 81 pitches for strikes. The six innings also marked the longest he's worked in 12 professional starts.
Columbia took a 2-0 lead in the third as an error by Lexington first baseman Nick Hutchins allowed the Fireflies' Chandler Avant to score. Ronny Mauricio, the Mets' No. 3 prospect, doubled home Anthony Dirocie for the second run.
Gameday box score
Lexington answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Nathan Eaton's two-run double. Eric Cole and Freddy Fermin added RBI singles to give Bubic all the support he needed.
"I had a little hiccup in the third," he said. "It was a great response by the offense to pick up me, our defense.
"That first start, I felt similar. I gave up four [runs], but I worked hard on my curveball between starts. There were some swing-and-misses tonight. I just attacked the zone and trusted myself."
Armed with a deceptive delivery, Bubic was the fourth pitcher taken by Kansas City in the Draft. He said he's heard it all about his funky motion but maintains that arm-slot consistency is key to his success and he gets in trouble when he gets under off-speed pitches.
"I have to stay aggressive, throw with the same motion and the ball comes out of my hand cleaner," he explained. "All the little things add up. From the time you first start playing baseball, you get bigger physically. You grow mentally. But you have to repeat the fundamentals."
Cole padded the lead with a three-run homer in the fifth and went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
In the sixth, Bubic struck out Mauricio with a ball in the dirt, which Legends catcher Fermin blocked and threw to first for the putout. It was the 10th K of the night for the left-hander, who was alerted to that fact by pitching coach Mitch Stetter.
"Freddy made a block on the ball in the dirt and it cut his chin," Bubic said. "While the umpire called time, our pitching coach got my attention and told me, '10.' That was when I knew. I didn't think about it during the game."
Of the 12 strikeouts, nine were swinging.
"Obviously, you want to execute, but so many things can happen when you do hit your spot," the Stanford product said. "It was satisfying to get a swing-and-miss."
C.J. Eldred relieved Bubic and yielded an unearned run on one hit and struck out two in one inning. Daniel James tossed the final two frames, allowing a run on a hit and a walk. He also picked up a strikeout.
Columbia's Thomas Szapucki, the ninth-ranked Mets prospect, gave up one hit and struck out one over two scoreless innings in his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2017. Jaison Vilera (0-1) was charged with eight runs on eight hits and four walks, notching one strikeout in 3 1/3 frames.
Fourth-ranked Mets prospect Mark Vientos capped the Fireflies' scoring with a solo homer, his first in Class A ball, in the eighth.
Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB.