It took Joakim Soria about 48 hours to justify the Kansas City Royals' faith.
Two days after the Royals made him the second overall pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, Soria pitched a perfect game in the Mexican Pacific League on Saturday night as the Yaquis de Obregon blanked the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, 6-0.
Soria already was dominating the winter circuit, leading all three pitching triple crown categories (9-0, 1.77 ERA, 73 strikeouts). But the 22-year-old right-hander struck out nine and threw 101 pitches to remain unbeaten.
Soria tamed a lineup that included one current and one former big leaguer. Jerry Hairston Jr. batted leadoff for the Naranjeros and failed to get the ball out of the infield in three at-bats, while Geronimo Gil struck out and grounded out before leaving for a defensive replacement.
Making his 11th start for the Yaquis, Soria struck out Braves prospect Ivan Terrazas and Jorge Luis Valle to begin the ninth inning. With the count full, he retired Alejandro Ahumada on a ground ball to third base on his 101st pitch to finish off the third no-hitter in league history.
It was the first complete game of the season for Soria, who missed all of 2003 due to an injury. As a member of the Padres organization, he made seven relief appearances for Class A Fort Wayne in 2006 and went 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA. Before joining the Wizards, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder served as the closer for the Mexican League's Diablos Rojos and compiled 15 saves and a 3.89 ERA in 39 games.
When Kansas City selected Soria from San Diego on Thursday, Royals general manager Dayton Moore raved about his repertoire.
"He throws three above-average pitches, and his mound presence was outstanding," Moore said. "He was almost too good to be true when we saw him."
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Kansas City released one-time top prospect Runelvys Hernandez.
"I think (Soria's) going to fit in well with some of the young arms we have coming into the organization," Moore said. "I think he's got a chance, a year from now, to be mentioned in the same vein with some of our younger prospects. He could be that kinda guy for us."
The Yaquis scored all of their runs on homers. Adan Munoz slugged a grand slam in the fourth inning off reliever Juan Alvarez, while Colorado Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs and Kit Pellow connected for back-to-back solo shots in the fifth.