Entering the 2011 campaign, Mike Rayl had only recorded double-digits in strikeouts in high school. On Monday, the southpaw fanned 11 for the second time this season.
Rayl (1-1) earned his first Carolina League win, allowing four hits and two walks over five innings as the Class A Advanced Kinston Indians blanked the Potomac Nationals, 2-0.
"At every level, the first win is an establishment for you," Rayl said.
A Midwest League All-Star, Rayl was promoted from Class A Lake County late last month after going 5-5 with a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts. While pitching for the Captains, he struck out 11 in a 4-0 win over Bowling Green on May 4. He surrendered only one hit in seven innings in that outing.
The 22-year-old ran into trouble in the third inning Monday. He loaded the bases by walking Francisco Soriano, giving up a bunt single to Jose Lozado and hitting Destin Hood with a pitch before recording an out. He then struck out Brian Peacock and Soriano tried to tag and score on Steven Souza's foul pop, but first baseman Jeremie Tice's throw to catcher Roberto Perez arrived in time to keep Potomac off the board.
The K-Tribe got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame on RBI singles by Jordan Casas and Adam Abraham.
"I just try to pitch as though the game is tied," said Rayl, who was selected by Cleveland in the 15th round of the 2009 Draft. "The two runs were a motivator to keep the team in front, but I go out there and pitch as though it is 0-0 and I need to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard."
Rayl struck out the side in the fourth, and after allowing a one-out double to Soriano in the fifth, he fanned Lozada and Hood swinging.
"I threw about 90 pitches," Rayl said. "I was disappointed to get taken out, but my pitch count was high so they could only do so much."
Reliever Toru Murata struck out five in 2 2/3 and Preston Guilmet recorded the final four outs for his 31st save. Guilmet trails Frederick's Sean Gleason by one for the league lead.
The Kinston pitchers combined for 18 strikeouts.