A.J. Alexy's first full season in the Rangers organization had not gotten off to the start he'd hoped for in April.
That all changed on Friday.
Gameday box score
The Rangers' 17th-ranked prospect took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts as Class A Hickory shut down West Virginia, 5-1, at Appalachian Power Park.
Alexy (1-2) had allowed 18 hits and 12 walks over 14 innings and had a 9.64 ERA and .321 opponents' batting average through four starts. In his last outing, on April 27 against Delmarva, he surrendered six runs on six hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.
"I struggle with the mental part of baseball," he said. "It's all about staying positive. I [sit] down with my catchers and we talk about bad starts and we watch video. And sometimes I just try to get away from baseball."
Against West Virginia, the 20-year-old right-hander had things working early. He fanned two batters in the opening frame, sandwiched around two walks. He struck out two batters in each the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, holding the Power hitless until Pirates No. 15 prospect Calvin Mitchell lined a one-out single in the sixth before getting thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Alexy rebounded by making Deon Stafford Jr. his 12th strikeout victim.
"I sat down with myself the past week and my pitching coach and catcher, and it was all about changing my mentality," Alexy said. "I had the good tempo going and my teammates were pumping me up."
Alexy's previous high was nine whiffs for Class A Great Lakes on July 21, 2017. He threw 55 of 91 pitches for strikes and, according to the stadium scoreboard, touched 98 mph with his fastball in his final inning.
Despite the velocity, Alexy said one of his secondary pitches was most effective.
"I think my curveball was my best pitch tonight, and [catcher Yohel] Pozo was calling great pitches," he said.
The Pennsylvania native got plenty of support as first baseman Justin Jacobs doubled, singled three times and scored twice, center fielder Pedro Gonzalez doubled and singled twice and left fielder Eric Jenkins homered.
A Radford commit before the Dodgers lured him to pro ball with a a $597,500 signing bonus in 2011, Alexy was part of the trade last July 31 that sent right-hander Yu Darvish to Los Angeles. Although Willie Calhoun was seen as the centerpiece of that deal, Alexy quickly established himself as one of the better pitching prospects in the Rangers system.
"The trade was a new opportunity with a new team and once I got there it was like another family," he said. "And they welcomed me with open arms."
The organization toned down his delivery to reduce some of the effort in it and make it more repeatable, ostensibly allowing him to throw more strikes.
"My main focus was to throw strikes as much as possible, first-pitch strikes," Alexy said. " I changed my windup recently and it makes me easy and simple, and I guess that helped."
Joe Barlow gave up an unearned run on two hits and three walks over 1 2/3 innings in relief of Alexy and Alex Speas recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.