Rays' Guerrieri whiffs 10 for Hot Rods

Right-hander sets career high mark over five scoreless frames

By Josh Jackson / Special to MLB.com | May 12, 2013 5:51 PM ET

Taylor Guerrieri didn't need much time to get a lot done Sunday.

The 20-year-old righty struck out 10 over five innings, yielding just a hit and two walks as Class A Bowling Green shut out Lake County, 8-0.

"I had good changeup command. Really, everything was working pretty well," Guerrieri said. "The only thing I didn't like was those two walks. I didn't feel very good about that. I just got behind. I fell behind 3-0 to both of those guys. All the guys [whom] I got ahead on, I got out. The name of the game is getting ahead, I guess."

Guerrieri (2-1) started off his outing with one of the walks to the Captains' LeVon Washington, Cleveland's No. 15 prospect. He got the next hitter -- Dorssys Paulino, the club's No. 3 prospect -- to bounce out to third base. With Washington in scoring position, Guerrieri whiffed the next two Lake County hitters.

He surrendered the other base on balls to Jeremy Lucas to start the second, and then struck out the next two batters and got out of the frame with an infield popup. In three of his five innings, he recorded the first two outs with strikeouts. Even on a day when he averaged two punchouts per frame, Guerriei didn't pay any attention to how he was retiring batters, as long as he was getting them.

"I'm not really too concerned about strikeouts," he said. "I like outs, and I like to get them any way possible. I try to get ground balls."

The 20-year-old righty ran into trouble in the fourth. The Captains' Jeremy Lucas slapped a ground ball through the right side for a two-out single, and Guerrieri sent him to second with a wild pitch. He recovered, though, to end the inning by fanning Eric Haase.

"That felt really good," he admitted. "I was really hoping to get an out, and I didn't care how it came. I'll take strikeouts, but all I wanted was to get the guy out."

He worked a perfect fifth, striking out two more.

MLB.com's No. 41 prospect and the top-ranked arm in the Rays system had previously struck out as many as seven in an outing, and he's never gone more than five innings in eight pro starts.

"I'm still on the five innings/75 pitches rule -- whichever comes first," Guerrieri explained. "I'm OK with it. I was in Spring Training for an extra week, so some of our guys get to do a little more. They're up to six innings/85 pitches. I ended up at 79 pitches after five today. If I could throw out those first two innings and replace them with good innings, I bet I would have gotten to pitch six. Those first two innings took 40 pitches. If you took those away, I would have been able to go a little bit deeper."  

Guerrieri was a first-round pick by the Rays in the 2011 Draft, and he went 1-2 with a 1.04 ERA in the short-season New York-Penn League last season. There he struck out 45 and walked five -- all left-handed hitters -- in 52 innings. His performance Sunday lowered his 2013 ERA to 2.00.

"I'm still working on my fastball command," he said. "My changeup command is coming along, and I'm working on my curveball command too. But I was able to get some of those strikeouts on curveballs, two or three of them. One was looking, and one was a swing-and-miss. It was a good variety today."

No. 16 Rays prospect Tyler Goeddel homered and doubled to plate three runs for Bowling Green and Patrick Leonard -- the club's No. 20 prospect -- singled, doubled and scored.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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