Pelicans' Assad maintains marvelous May

Cubs right-hander hasn't allowed a run in 19 innings this month

Javier Assad has struck out 36 batters in 37 innings in the Carolina League this season. (Larry Kave Photo)

By Jordan Wolf / | May 15, 2019 11:44 PM

Javier Assad didn't get much run support Wednesday. But as has been the case for the past month, he didn't need it.

The right-handed Cubs prospect allowed one hit and a walk while striking out a season-high nine over seven innings in Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach's 1-0 win over Winston-Salem at Field. In three May starts, Assad (2-3) has not allowed a run across 19 innings.

Video: Pelicans' Assad strikes out ninth

The 21-year-old was flat-out dominant, fooling the Dash with a combination of his signature fastball and sharp off-speed stuff. Pelicans pitching coach Brian Lawrence has seen him pitch this well plenty of times over the past two seasons, but was particularly impressed Wednesday night.

"Realistically, he had them all night," he said. "They didn't know what to do. ... It's really fun to watch."

Assad struck out the side in the first inning. He gave up his lone hit of the game to Jameson Fisher to open the second, and the first baseman subsequently swiped second with one out. Assad picked Fisher off for the second out and fanned Carlos Perez to end the frame on the next pitch.

Gameday box score

He issued his lone walk of the game to JJ Muno to start the fourth, and faced the minimum the rest of the way from there. His stuff was certainly on point, but Lawrence found the command and overall game control to be the biggest difference makers.

"Right out of the gate, even in the warmups, he was locating the fastball well," Lawrence said. "Had a good plan against the hitters, what he was trying to do, and was able to execute it from the first inning on. It was just one of those days where he was just in kind of complete control of everything he was doing, and it showed."

Last year in his first full professional season, Assad stitched together a 5-7 record with a 4.40 ERA, striking out 89 in 106 1/3 innings spanning 21 starts for Class A South Bend. In 2017, he went 5-6 with a 4.23 ERA and struck out 72 across 66 frames at Class A Short Season Eugene.

2019 MiLB include

Assad has surrendered just five hits and six walks this month. At the end of April, the native of Tijuana, Mexico's ERA had risen to 4.50. He's trimmed that to 2.19 with Wednesday's outing and a pair of six-inning starts that earned him last week's Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors.

"Right now, he's on one of those hot streaks that we all dream about," Lawrence said.

Celebrating the stretch might be understandable, but Assad's coach is maintaining a tight focus on keeping the young right-hander's approach the same between his outings. Although repeated success can provide positive momentum, there's a perilous line between consistency and complacency.

"I don't want him to get lazy between starts because he's doing well ... he's feeling good and he's going to be confident," Lawrence said. "We've just got to make sure he kind of continues down the path, and make sure he continues to do all the things he has been doing and not get lazy because he is successful."

Jordan Wolf is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @byjordanwolf. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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