Pike puts up zeros in Double-A debut

Mariners' No. 9 prospect pitches five scoreless innings for Jackson

Tyler Pike has recorded 59 strikeouts over 66 1/3 innings across two levels this year. (Mike Andruski/High Desert Mavericks)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | June 22, 2014 11:40 PM ET

Tyler Pike had to battle elements and the opposition during his 10-week tenure in the hitter-happy California League.

Now at a new level and pitching without the fear of every routine fly ball leaving the yard, the Mariners' No. 9 prospect can get back to attacking hitters.

Pike allowed two hits over five scoreless innings in his Double-A debut Sunday before Jackson posted a 9-7, 11-inning triumph over Mississippi at Trustmark Park.

"I thought I did pretty good," Pike said. "I was trying to keep the ball down, not trying to do too much, and throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes. I gave my team a chance to win and I felt I put us in a position to get a 'W.'"

Pike, who walked three batters and struck out two, exited with a seven-run lead but watched the Braves tie the game in the ninth after they were down to their final strike. Daniel Paolini's one-out RBI double in the 11th ensure Pike's Southern League debut did not end in defeat.

Selected in the third round of the 2012 Draft, Pike worked with runners on base in four of his five innings but retired seven of the final eight batters he faced.

"I was rushing to the plate and not letting my arm catch up with my body. I was trying too hard," the 20-year-old left-hander said. "My curveball was good, but not as good as it should be. Sometimes I'll try to throw it too hard and spike it or I won't throw it hard enough and I'll see a big loop to it."

A Midwest League mid- and postseason All-Star with Class A Clinton last season, Pike was 2-4 with a 5.72 ERA in 14 Cal League starts for High Desert prior to his promotion. He had 57 strikeouts and 46 walks over 61 1/3 innings but, pitching in the most conducive batting environment in baseball, served up 10 long balls, three shy of the league lead.

Only Rancho Cucamonga's Fabio Martinez (66) issued more walks than Pike, who combated his occasional lack of command by holding foes to a .243 batting average, the fourth-best mark on the circuit.

"It's a lot different," Pike said of the change in environment. "I had a couple popups tonight that would have gone out at High Desert, for sure. The air is more dry out there. I was sweating a lot today. I'm from Florida, but I wasn't used to that.

"I feel like your approach should not be different where you're at. Those home runs, you just have to let them go. Your coaches know those balls should be caught. I have to keep the ball down and let them put it in play."

Pike, who threw 48 of 87 pitches for strikes, wrote his name in the record books when he combined with Mark Bordonaro and Blake Hauser as High Desert no-hit Rancho Cucamonga on May 28.

On Sunday, Mariners' No. 16 prospect Patrick Kivlehan was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer to extend his hitting streak to 16 games and No. 14 prospect Ketel Marte collected three RBIs from the top of the order.

Jose Peraza, ranked fourth among Braves prospects, went 4-for-6 with a double, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored, while No. 10 prospect Kyle Kubitza tripled for Mississippi.

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

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