Flaherty dominates for third straight start

Cardinals No. 8 prospect allows two hits, fans nine in 7 2/3 frames

Jack Flaherty has piled up 270 strikeouts over 273 professional innings since being drafted out of high school in 2014. (Joshua Tjiong/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | April 17, 2017 9:33 PM ET

So far, it hasn't looked like Texas League hitters have much to teach Jack Flaherty.

Looks can be deceiving -- the 21-year-old said he has lots to learn, even after another dominant outing Monday.

Video: Flaherty racks up ninth K

The eighth-ranked St. Louis prospect allowed two hits and one walk while striking out nine over 7 2/3 innings in Double-A Springfield's 3-0 win over visiting Midland.

"I was very happy about it -- the results of it, at least," Flaherty said. "I felt like there were some things I still could have done better. There were still things I have to work on and improve."


 

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In three starts, the 2014 first-rounder is 3-0 with an 0.42 ERA and 19 strikeouts and only two walks in 21 2/3 innings. Last year, he was 5-9 with a 3.56 ERA for Class A Advanced Palm Beach. 

"I've just been able to get ahead of hitters and locate the fastball. That's really allowed me to control the game and work ahead and throw what I want in certain counts," said the native of Burbank, California. "Me and the catchers have been able to go out and execute the game plan."

One of the key lessons Flaherty has learned this season is to rely on his catchers more.

"Even with some of my calls when I shook [off the catchers], they haven't all been the right ones," he said. "I'm still learning to trust my catchers, because they've called really good games. [So the next thing is] for me to just be able to execute off of that. It's been really learning how to sequence pitches and work pitch to pitch."

Flaherty also has focused on mechanical consistency.

"I just feel like I could repeat a little bit better. The results have been good, but I feel like I could repeat better," Flaherty said.

The results were perfect his first time through the lineup Monday. He fanned four and benefited from a diving catch by center fielder Oscar Mercado in the opening frame.

Video: Mercado makes nice catch

"Mercado made a great play that could have changed the first inning," Flaherty said. "I felt like things were going pretty well through the beginning [of the game]. When I needed to execute, I did. ... But there were some of those pitches that [had they been better], I could have saved a few more on the count for the end of the game."

RockHounds No. 2 hitter J.P. Sportman singled up the middle with one out in the fourth inning before Flaherty retired the next eight batters. B.J. Boyd lined a double to center field with one out in the seventh and Flaherty stranded him by inducing a couple of groundouts.

"Those were definitely really big," said the product of Los Angeles' Harvard-Westlake High School. "When he hit that double and the heart of the order was coming up with one out, we got the groundout to [third baseman] Bruce [Caldwell] and he made that play, then the second baseman [Eliezer Alvarez] was positioned perfectly on the next one." 

With one out in the eighth, 20th-ranked Athletics prospect Max Schrock drove Flaherty's 1-2 offering deep to left, but Nick Martini hauled it in on the warning track.

"That was an unbelievable catch as well," the righty said. "The ball seemed to kind of keep going. He had just enough real estate to make the catch."

He then walked No. 12 Oakland prospect Richie Martin and was lifted after throwing 99 pitches, 63 for strikes. 

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"That last walk was frustrating, rather than being able to finish off that inning," Flaherty admitted. "I knew it was getting to that point, but I was hoping [Springfield manager Johnny Rodriguez would] let me go longer, even though I kind of knew that was it. I was definitely frustrated coming off the mound, but once the inning was over, I settled down. All in all, it was a good job."

Corey Baker took over, shrugging off two hits and a walk and striking out one over 1 1/3 innings for his second save.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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