Top New York Mets prospect Jenrry Mejia might have taken a giant step back toward Flushing by throwing seven one-hit innings for Double-A Binghamton on Thursday.
Mejia turned in his strongest start since returning from a strained rotator cuff, striking out eight and walking two in the Mets' 5-0 victory over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Dylan Owen wrapped up the one-hitter.
After striking out Callix Crabbe with his 102nd pitch of the night, Mejia (1-0) turned a 4-0 lead over to Owen, who set the side down in order in the final two frames.
"I pitched pretty well," Mejia said. "My fastball, cutter, change and two-seamer were all good and I felt much stronger. I felt like I could throw any pitch for a strike."
The Fisher Cats threatened to score in the first inning, loading the bases after a walk and fielding errors by second baseman Jordany Valdespin and first baseman Joshua Satin, but Mejia got David Cooper to ground out back to the mound to end the inning.
No other New Hampshire baserunner made it past first the rest of the night.
"It gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the game," Mejia said. "I knew I just had to get that out, and at 3-2 (in the count), I knew I had to throw a strike."
The 20-year-old rebounded from his last start, when he gave up four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings Aug. 13 against Reading.
"Last time I tried to throw everything hard, but tonight I was thinking more about if I had to throw my fastball hard or slow or my changeup hard or slow," he said.
The right-hander did not allow a hit until Darin Mastroianni's fifth-inning bloop and he faced two over the minimum through his final six innings. Mejia and Owen retired the last 13 New Hampshire batters they faced.
Mejia, who finished one strikeout short of the career-high nine he collected for the Brooklyn Cyclones against the Staten Island Yankees on July 20, 2008, said he did not mind coming out of the game.
"I would have liked to pitch the eighth, but I was up to my pitch count," he said. "That is where I have been lately. But [Owen] pitched pretty well, though. I thought he did a good job."
Mejia, who signed with the New York Mets as a non-drafted free agent on April 4, 2007, appeared in 30 games in relief for the New York Mets earlier this season before being sent to Binghamton to focus on pitching as a starter.
Pitching coach Mark Brewer called Mejia's first win with the B-Mets one of his best starts this year.
"He added to and subtracted from his pitches really well and he mixed in all of his pitches," he said. "He threw all of his pitches competitively and he never tried to do too much.
"He was pretty exceptional, better than his first outing after he came back from his rehab," Brewer added. "I expect Jenrry to be here until September, but he is on the Mets' 40-man roster, so he may get a chance to go back up."
Brewer also was pleased with Owen, taken by the Mets in the 20th round of the 2007 Draft.
"He moved his fastball in and out and used his changeup to offset the hitters' timing," Brewer said. "He doesn't really need to work on his curve or slider too much either, but he needs to continue pitching from side to side."