P-Nats' Simms fans 14 in first career win

Nationals prospect allows one run, two hits, one walk in seven innings

With 14 strikeouts, Simms set a career high for himself and a season high for the Potomac Nationals. (Gary Dize)

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com | June 7, 2014 11:44 PM ET

John Simms finally has a "W" to his name, and he earned it in style.

Making his eighth start for Class A Advanced Potomac on Saturday, the Nationals prospect rang up a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 6-1 win over visiting Wilmington. In his longest professional outing yet, he allowed one run on two hits and a walk over seven dominant innings.

"That wasn't just my first win at Class A Advanced, that was my first professional win," Simms said. "So it's been kind of a running joke now. It's been interesting, to say the least, just trying to get over that hump."

The 2013 11th-round pick soared over that hump against the Blue Rocks. He struck out the side in the fourth and seventh while punching out two in the first, third and fifth innings.

Aside from a leadoff walk to Michael Antonio in the second, Simms' only trouble came in the third, which began with Jack Lopez's single. Lopez swiped second and came around to score when Daniel Rockett hit a liner to left.

Simms (1-3) retired the next 14 batters, 11 via strikeouts. Overall, he turned in five 1-2-3 innings.

"It was just one of those nights where it seemed like whenever you made a bad pitch, they didn't hurt you, and whenever you made a good one, something great happened on it," the 22-year-old right-hander said. "That was really what it boiled down to, is that I didn't get hurt on the pitches I missed with tonight; and for the pitches that I made my spot, I got the outcome I was expecting."

The Rice University product, who was promoted from Class A Hagerstown on April 28, threw 95 pitches in shutting down Wilmington.

"You have to keep battling and you have to adjust when a guy is locating like [John Simms] was tonight," Blue Rocks manager Darryl Kennedy said. "The one thing he kept doing tonight was going away, away, away, and we never made the adjustment.

"We just kept trying to hit the ball out of the park, making really aggressive swings. You've got to hand it to the guy, he kept executing his game plan and we got beat. It was as simple as that."

The 14 strikeouts marked a season high for any Potomac pitcher, and 10 of them were a result of batters going down swinging.

"I got lucky in some situations where I would get some swings where they just barely missed, stuff like that," the Texas native said. "So it was fun. You're not always going to catch every break, but tonight it seemed like I did."

Simms has a 3.92 ERA with the P-Nats after beginning the year piggybacking in Hagerstown, where he posted a 0.98 ERA with three saves in five appearances. Over 62 total innings this year, he's allowed 21 earned runs while compiling a 60-13 strikeout-to-walk-ratio.

Washington also selected him in the 39th round in 2010 and following his signing with the organization last year, he pitched in 12 games, 11 with short-season Auburn.

It took 25 outings, but he's reached the win column. If nothing else, he won't have to put up with any more ribbing from his teammates.

"I wouldn't say it's a milestone," Simms said. "Obviously, your goal is to get to the big leagues. However you can get there, whether it's with 3,000 wins in the Minor Leagues or zero, it's however you get there. It was just kind of a funny joke between us on the team."

Reliever Ian Dickson, who kidded Simms about giving up the lead to keep the starter's streak alive, did not blow it. He pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two and working around one hit, to seal the win.

Potomac got two RBIs apiece from Oscar Tejeda, who hit his ninth homer, and Tony Renda. The Nats have won three games in a row and nine of their last 10.

Mark Emery is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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