Because the Royals promoted him on the last day of June and slotted him to to pitch at the end of July's first week, Jake Odorizzi had plenty of time to imagine how his Double-A debut would play out.
It went differently in his mind.
Odorizzi gave up two runs on six hits and a pair of walks over five trouble-filled innings in the Northwest Arkansas Naturals' 10-5 win over the San Antonio Missions.
But as the pitcher himself said afterward, "The team got the win, and that's all that matters."
Calling himself nervous and excited over his chance to make a first impression, Odorizzi (1-0) threw 64 of his 108 pitches in the strike zone. The 21-year-old right-hander, MLB.com's No. 5 Royals prospect, allowed at least one baserunner in each frame, including Jedd Gyorko's trip around the bases in the fifth. The Missions' Gyorko hit 18 home runs in the Cal League before his own recent Double-A callup.
"It was a fastball. I was trying to go [inside]," he said. "Good piece of hitting."
As for the high pitch count, he required 51 pitches to record the game's first six outs.
"I was getting too deep into counts, trying to be too precise," he said. "I was happy to get through it."
What does the Illinois native tell himself on the mound when his pitches pile up?
"Keep throwing strikes," he said. "When you throw strikes, good things will happen."
He speaks from experience. Odorizzi learned of his promotion after taking a loss in his final Class A Advanced outing a week ago. He compiled a 5-4 record and a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts with the Blue Rocks, his first season in Kansas City's organization after coming over from Milwaukee in a five-player trade involving Zack Greinke last December.
"Different league, different hitters: It's going to take some time to get used to," he said of acclimating himself to the Texas League. "I came here and waited for six days. That helped, as I got to blend in with the team."
Fortunately for the Naturals newbie, the lineup scored in six straight innings -- from the third to the eighth. Jamie Romak hit a solo home run in the sixth and Salvador Perez collected a game-high three RBIs. Plus Wil Myers -- Kansas City's No. 3 prospect -- singled in a run in the fifth.