Sopko rebounds in second Cal League start

Dodgers prospect allows three hits, fans five in six scoreless innings

Andrew Sopko posted a 2.74 ERA in five starts for Class A Great Lakes last season. (Ron Cervenka/Thinkbluela.com)

By Michael Peng / MiLB.com | April 24, 2016 12:29 AM ET

Andrew Sopko discovered quickly that having a short memory and poise can go a long way.

"After my first start, I just learned to kind of keep my composure," he said. "I didn't pitch well, so I just wanted to come into this game with a clean slate."

In his second California League start, the Dodgers prospect gave up three hits over six scoreless innings Saturday night as Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga rolled to a 10-3 win over Visalia at LoanMart Field. 

"I felt really good," Sopko said after walking two, striking out five and throwing 79 pitches. "I was able to establish the inside with the fastball and use my changeup and curve to throw the batters off and everything just went from there."

Sopko issued both walks in the first two innings but immediately erased the runners on ground-ball double plays. Those were two of the seven groundouts he induced, something he said was vital to his success.

"[Getting ground balls] are very important," Sopko added, "because when you walk guys, your pitch count starts to go up, so it was important for me to get them to save pitches and get out of the innings."

The 21-year-old right-hander recorded four strikeouts after the second inning and also got out of a pair of two-on jams.

"At those times, I just had to gather myself back," he said. "So finding that composure was important for me tonight."

The outing was a bounce-back from his Cal League debut on Monday, when he surrendered three runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings against Lancaster. Sopko spotted the differences at the Class A Advanced level quickly and adjusted accordingly.

"The hitters here are just more patient," he said. "You can't get away with just throwing fastballs and they won't get themselves out, so you really have to locate all of your pitches better."

The 2015 seventh-rounder out of Gonzaga began the season with Class A Great Lakes but was promoted after striking out eight over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his lone start.

"It was a little unexpected," Sopko said. "They told us, 'You're going to have to be ready to move at anytime.' But when it actually happened, I was just really excited and it has been a fun experience here."

Luis De Paula pitched a scoreless seventh and Bubby Rossman got the final six outs, losing the shutout in the ninth.

Erick Mejia paced the Quakes' offense with three hits, while Andrew Toles drove in three runs. Dodgers No. 27 prospect Johan Mieses and Joey Curletta chipped in two hits apiece.

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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