After four years in short-season ball, Merandy Gonzalez is making the most of his first April action.
The Mets' No. 14 prospect struck out five over 7 2/3 frames Saturday, pitching Class A Columbia to a 1-0 victory over Augusta at Lake Olmstead Stadium. In 13 2/3 innings this season, Gonzalez has 11 strikeouts and has given up seven hits and a walk without surrendering a run.
Gonzalez (2-0) ran into some trouble in the second inning when Manuel Geraldo and Brandon Van Horn hit back-to-back two-out singles -- both hits coming on two-strike counts. The native of the Dominican Republic buckled down and got Zack Bowers to look at a third strike, beginning a streak of 13 consecutive batters retired.
The streak ended on Ashford Fulmer's leadoff single in the seventh, but Fulmer was caught stealing by catcher Ali Sanchez. Ryan Kirby pushed a grounder back through the middle for the GreenJackets' fourth and final hit, which also came on a two-strike count.
Gonzalez started the eighth and got Van Horn to bounce out before striking out Bowers on three pitches. He was lifted after throwing 73 of 91 pitches for strikes in the longest start of his career.
Gonzalez made his debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in June 2013. He appeared in 14 games in the DSL that summer and 14 more the following year. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound hurler remained in Rookie ball in 2015, splitting time between the Gulf Coast and Appalachian leagues and going 4-3 with a 2.57 ERA and one shutout.
Gonzalez made his Class A Short Season debut last year and tied for third in the New York-Penn League with 71 strikeouts. He was 6-3 in 14 starts for Brooklyn and finished ninth in the circuit with a 2.87 ERA.
The Fireflies scored the only run Gonzalez needed in the second when former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow bounced into a forceout with runners at the corners. He plated Dash Winningham, who's reached safely in all 10 games and is batting .333. Tebow was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .167.