Lefty Walters intimidates Lexington

Kannapolis prospect tosses seven one-hit frames in victory

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | May 17, 2012 7:07 PM

In Blair Walters' last start for Class A Kannapolis, he limited Delmarva to one run. This time out, against Lexington, he kept it at one hit.

A Delino Deshields Jr. single in the sixth frame was the only mark against the left-hander over seven innings in the Intimidators' 5-0 shutout of the Legends.

Walters struck out nine over the seven frames in his longest start of the season and arguably most complete outing of his career.

"By far this was the best outing I've had in my pro career," said Walters. "It almost felt like it was easy today, I just felt good. I was locating pitches when I needed to, definitely got in that rhythm and felt better than I had in any other starts."

Once Walters (2-2) finished his work, he handed off to reliever Bryan Blough who fired off two hitless innings of his own to shut the door. The one hit amounted to the fewest the Intimidators have allowed in a game since no-hitting Hickory on Aug. 20, 2010.

For the University of Hawaii product, it was the third start with one run or fewer allowed in his last four as he's begun picking up momentum on the mound this season.

"Last time I went six and felt confident out there," said Walters. "I was building off that, seeing what I can do with myself and trust myself."

The 11th-round pick in last year's Draft is hitting his stride with the Intimidators after being named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year last season. He went 9-0 with a 4.03 ERA and struck out 72 batters in 73 2/3 innings for Class A Short-Season Great Falls.

This year, Walters sports a 2.84 ERA through 44 1/3 innings, with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks. He said the improvement in his changeup as an out pitch has helped him find success in the South Atlantic League, and particularly Thursday, sit down opposing lineups.

"I used my changeup a lot," he said. "I was able to establish the fastball inside and locate that pretty well on both corners and go from there, so I could throw the changeup and get groundouts, swings-and-misses."

If he could have been just a little more economical with his pitches, Walters said he felt like he was in the groove that could have allowed him to pitch the whole game.

"It definitely was nice [to pitch that deep into a game]," he said. "It was one of those nights you wish you could go all nine, but it felt good to go seven and help the team to a victory. The defense was good and the offense was there tonight. I was feeling good."

Offensively, third baseman Rangel Ravelo paced Kannapolis with a 4-for-4 night that included a double and an RBI. Right fielder Mark Haddow drove in two runs.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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