Adys Portillo is finally pitching like the elite arm many teams envisioned he'd one day be.
The Padres right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning en route to posting his second straight scoreless outing as Class A Fort Wayne held off South Bend, 5-2, on Wednesday afternoon.
Portillo (2-1) lost the no-hit bid with one out in the seventh when Matt Helm hit a double over the head of TinCaps center fielder Kyung-Min Na. He finished off the frame before handing the game to the bullpen in earning his second victory.
In his last two starts, the 20-year-old Padres prospect has allowed three hits, no runs, walked three and struck out 12 over 14 innings. He lowered his ERA to a stellar 1.41 with Wednesday's effort.
Portillo ranks No. 17 on San Diego's top prospect list despite coming off a rough 2011 campaign in which he hit 100 mph with his live fastball but finished 3-11 with a 7.11 ERA in 23 outings with Fort Wayne.
San Diego won a bidding war for the righty in 2008, signing the 6-foot-2 hurler for $2 million when he was just 16 years old. He's gained 40 pounds since signing and his velocity remains in the mid-to-high 90s, but, until 2012, the numbers have been lacking. Before his poor 2011 season, Portillo went 2-6 with a 4.78 ERA at two levels in 2010 and was a disappointing 1-9 with a 5.13 ERA in 13 games in his rookie campaign in 2009.
This year, the numbers are looking better. The Los Puertos de Altagracia, Venezuela, native has allowed one run or fewer in six of his seven starts in the Midwest League, striking out 38 batters in 38 1/3 innings. Walks remain an issue -- he's issued 17 free passes in that span, including two on Wednesday -- but the ERA is hard to argue with. Portillo ranks fourth in the Midwest League in both strikeouts and ERA.
South Bend had its chances Wednesday despite the stingyness of Portillo. Tom Belza reached in the first inning on a fielding error by shortstop Jace Peterson, but Portillo whiffed Helm to end the frame. Fidel Pena walked and advanced to second on a passed ball an inning later, but the Silver Hawks left him stranded. Pena walked again to lead off the fifth but was doubled off first when Roidany Aguila lined out to second into a double play.
Helm advanced to third in the seventh after Portillo threw a wild pitch to Marc Bourgeois, but the righty struck out Bourgeois and popped up Pena to end his outing.
Whitemore knocked home two runs for Fort Wayne, which scored four in the fifth to pull away. Luis De La Cruz and Daniel Cropper pitched the final two frames to seal the win.