Making his pro debut, Taylor Guerrieri allowed a single to the first batter he faced and hit the second one. How did he respond? By striking out the next three.
"I stuck to my gameplan," Guerrieri said. "I guess I was a little nervous until that first strike, but I knew the bloop hits will happen. There was a little anxiety, but it was fun. I had a good time."
The Rays' No. 4 prospect ultimately allowed two hits over five shutout innings Wednesday as the Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades defeated the Aberdeen IronBirds, 5-3.
Guerrieri struck out six and issued one walk. Most would sign up for that line in just about any start -- let alone a debut -- but the 19-year-old right-hander had a different take.
"My goal was to have no walks throughout the whole year," Guerrieri said. "I kind of blew that one tonight."
After the first, Guerrieri allowed only two baserunners -- Joel Hutter doubled in the second and Tom Winegardner walked in the fourth. Five of his outs came on the ground and two in the air.
"I thought I had good stuff today," Guerrieri said. "I was locating the ball well, I threw the changeup for strikes and I worked both sides of the plate. I was very pleased with my outing."
The IronBirds came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game after Guerrieri's departure, but the Renegades retook the lead on a two-run double by Joel Caminero in the ninth. The 21-year-old outfielder finished the game with two doubles and four RBIs.
Drafted 24th overall out of high school in 2011, Guerrieri spent the first two-and-a-half months of this season in extended spring training. He worked on some basics, such as his pitch command and control of the running game, while also trying to refine a changeup that he seldom used as an amateur.
"I never really threw it in high school," said Guerrieri, whose repertoire also includes a fastball, curveball and cutter. "Once I got [to the Rays], I started working with it more and more. If you start throwing it every day, you're going to get better at it. I'm pretty pleased with it."
Though Guerrieri's no-walks goal is already shot, he still has other aims for his first pro season.
"My everyday goal is to come out here and compete, give the bullpen a day off or so," he said. "Compete with everybody, and it's all about having fun."