Thunder's King hurls first nine-inning shutout

Yanks prospect ties career high with 11 strikeouts in three-hitter

Michael King struck out 45 over 40 1/3 innings for Class A Advanced Tampa before a May promotion. (Terrance Williams/MiLB.com)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | June 30, 2018 10:53 PM

This celebration was fit for a King. 

With his uniform saturated by three Gatorade baths, Michael King stood on the field conducting a postgame interview temporarily muted as the shock from the dousing subsided. The feeling, he said, was worth it. 

The Yankees prospect pitched a three-hitter for his first nine-inning complete game, matching his career high with 11 strikeouts, as Double-A Trenton beat New Hampshire, 6-0, on Saturday at Arm & Hammer Park. 

Video: Trenton's King finishes shutout

"You just lose your breath because it's so cold," King said of the celebration, which began when he fielded a comebacker off the bat of Jon Berti to end the game and his teammates surrounded him on the mound while he tried to play it cool.

King tossed a seven-inning shutout for Class A Greensboro in the Marlins system on April 15, 2017. He bested that effort against one of the Eastern League's most prolific lineups, even without the presence of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 

"I want to have those outings every day," he said. "Coming into my pregame routines, that's what I was trying to do. It's nice to know that I succeeded in my game plan and that we had a correct game plan going in."

The 23-year-old faced the minimum through three innings, thanks to catcher Jorge Saez, who threw out Connor Panas trying to steal second. Panas led off the third with the Fisher Cats' first hit.


Gameday box score


King credited the game plan Trenton pitching coach Tim Norton developed and Saez's work behind the plate for helping him go the distance. His own pregame work also played a factor. 

"I keep trying to master my routine, get it so I'm locked in, so my pitches are doing what they should do, where they should go," the 2016 12th-round pick said. "Obviously, I'm not going to have that every time. From the first time I step in the gym until I go out there, that's my mentality the whole time -- to do something special, to go out there and pitch the way I know I can." 

Blue Jays No. 28 prospect Jonathan Davis opened the fourth with a double -- the only extra-base hit off King -- but was stranded when the right-hander fanned second-ranked Bo Bichette and No. 19 prospect Cavan Biggio to end the inning. 

With two outs in the fifth, Panas became the last Fisher Cat to reach against King on an infield single. The Boston College product struck out the side in the sixth and the first two batters of the seventh, ringing up Bichette and Biggio again. Overall, he retired the final 13 hitters. 

"We actually went to the fastball more [later in the game]," he said. "Early on, I like to attack a hitter kind of how I'm not going to attack him later in the game, how I really want to get him out, just to open up different holes. That's what we did.

"Every hitter has holes, it's just a matter of exploiting them. ... Once you find them and you're able to attack them in those proper spots, then it makes my job a lot easier." 

MiLB include

The Marlins traded King, along with future considerations, to the Yankees for left-hander Caleb Smith and outfielder Garrett Cooper last Nov. 20. On Saturday, the Rochester, New York, native threw 78 of 103 pitches for strikes and recorded nine ground-ball outs.

"I was just hoping that my pitch count was low enough, because that's how it goes in the Minor Leagues," the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder said. "I had no idea what my pitch count was. I knew I was low going into the eighth inning, but once you get to that eighth, ninth inning, I was like 'It's got to be close. I have no idea how long they're going to let me go.' In my head, I just had it where I was going all nine, no matter what. Jay would have had to rip that ball out of my hand. ... I was just trying to go as long as I could."

Mandy Alvarez homered and drove in three runs for the Thunder, who got a solo shot from Jhalan Jackson

Blue Jays No. 27 prospect Jordan Romano (8-4) gave up five runs -- three earned -- on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts over six frames. 

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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