Rafael Montero set a career high in strikeouts in his last start. But he one-upped that accomplishment with an even more dominant outing Tuesday.
The Mets' No. 9 prospect pitched 7 2/3 no-hit innings before being replaced by reliever Kyle Allen as Class A Advanced St. Lucie one-hit Palm Beach, 9-1, on Tuesday.
Montero struck out five and walked three en route to his fifth win. After walking Ronnie Gil with one out in the third inning, Montero retired 15 in a row, a streak that ended when he issued a one-out walk to Geoffrey Klein with one out in the eighth.
"The biggest thing for him was he throws strikes to both sides of the plate and he commands his fastball well. That seems to be a big pitch for him," pitching coach Phil Regan said. "He seems to have the ability to reach back and get a little extra on it when he needs it."
Montero came out after reaching his pitch limit.
"We have a pitch count for him which is 105 and he went 107," Regan said. "It's nice to have a no-hitter but we're thinking of his future."
Since being promoted to the Florida State League on June 23, Montero has been nothing short of spectacular, going 5-2 with a 2.13 ERA in eight starts. On July 31, the 21-year-old right-hander fanned 14 over six innings, his second start with at least 10 strikeouts for St. Lucie. He has limited batters to a .196 average against and has yielded just two homers for the Mets.
"He's very good for us down here," the former Major Leaguer said. "He throws the ball well, he commands the ball well and when you can command your fastball and your other pitches and get them over it's a big plus. He's got a good slider and a good changeup. He mixes all of his pitches up so he's got a pretty good mix of what he does."
Kyle Allen took over for Montero and walked Gil before getting Mike O'Neill to fly out to center field to end the eight. Starlin Rodriguez ended the no-hitter with a double and came around to score on Chris Edmondson's RBI groundout to open the ninth.
"There was not a lot of reaction, because once Montero had left the game, the whole focus was on us winning the game. One hit wasn't going to make a difference," Regan said.
Alonzo Harris was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and fell a triple shy of the cycle while Cesar Puello, New York's No. 5 prospect, collected three hits and stole two bases, including home, for the Mets.