Teen Perez takes one-hit bid into ninth

D-backs righty goes distance for second time in four games

Felipe Perez has struck out 22 batters over 43 2/3 innings this year. (Missoula Osprey)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | July 18, 2013 10:02 PM ET

D-backs teen-age prospect Felipe Perez is still getting his feet wet in terms of his professional baseball career.

When he's off his game, the numbers won't blow anybody away. But when things are clicking -- as they were Thursday night in Ogden -- he's virtually unhittable.

Perez took a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning and ended up allowing one unearned run on a pair of hits and three walks in the Rookie-level Missoula Osprey's 10-1 rout of the Raptors.

"I felt like I threw well. There were a few pitches that I felt were really well executed and my defense backed me up," said Perez. "I felt like I did pretty well."

Ogden finally collected a hit against the right-hander in the sixth inning when Joey Curletta doubled to left field to begin the frame, but Perez then worked three perfect frames to carry the shutout into the ninth.

"I had no idea [about the no-hitter] until about the fifth inning. I glanced at the board to see if the previous guy had a hit or whether it was an error. My eyes looked down and I saw zero hits," Perez said. "The very next inning I gave up a hit, so I have to keep my eyes away from there next time.

"[Curletta] beat me. I left a pitch over the middle and he squared up on it and hit it off the top of the wall. It was a two-seam fastball that stayed straight. I would rather have a hard hit ball break up a no-hitter than a little flare."

That accounted for Ogden's lone offense until the final frame.

Jesmuel Valentin reached on first baseman Daniel Palka's fielding error to begin the ninth and then Brandon Trinkwon broke up the string of zeros with an RBI double to left field.

"It was actually off [Jake Mayers'] glove. It was a line drive down the line. My third baseman dove and I thought he had it, but the ball went by him."

The outing lowered his ERA to 2.47 and gave him his second complete game in the past four appearances.

Despite having pitched in just six professional games -- all inside the past five weeks -- Perez is no stranger to strong performances or long outings.

He threw a three-hit shutout at home to Helena in his third outing, and he followed that up with eight one-run frames on the road in Billings five days later.

"We are all tired and all grinding it out like every other baseball player," Perez said. "To save our bullpen for tomorrow and give them an extra day of rest is big. It's a team effort and I felt like I did my job."

He's also had to deal with a number of disappointing outings. He allowed 11 runs over a combined 12 2/3 innings in his first two starts, and he surrendered six runs over five innings last time out against Ogden last Friday.

"Those games, I was just not feeling it," Perez said. "There are days when you have it and days when you don't. The days I don't, I just want to try to go deep and save the bullpen so they don't have to come in early. When I do have it, I try to take advantage of it."

The 19-year-old California native went undrafted out of school, but he latched on with the D-backs as a free agent late last August near the end of the Arizona League season.

He had committed to UCLA out of Fairmont Prep, located a few miles outside his hometown of Anaheim, Calif. But after getting a taste of the everyday life of a baseball player, Perez decided he would be able to cope with the daily grind.

"Throughout the [2012] Draft, I was really excited to go to UCLA. I was all in. They have a great program and a great educational system," Perez said. "My parents preached about going to school and how important education was. I was school, school, school.

"UCLA sent me to the West Coast Collegiate League, and it was like short-season ball where you play every single day and get to the ballpark five hours before a game. I talked to a few buddies and they said pro ball was exactly the same -- baseball 24-7. We had four- to 12-hour bus rides and I had been living with a host family for two-and-a-half months. I felt I was ready for it."

On Thursday, Missoula shortstop Joe Munoz went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs and first baseman Daniel Palka was 3-for-4, missing the cycle by a triple.

"Congrats to both of them," Perez added. "We were all excited and energized by them. Munoz struggled early on, but his bat got hot and hopefully it stays there for a while. I feel an extra boost of confidence when I'm on the mound and those guys have my back."

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

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