Jonathan Hernandez is one of the most feared pitchers in the Carolina League. He proved that point once again Wednesday.
The Rangers' 14th-ranked prospect struck out 10 over six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a pair of walks, in Class A Advanced Down East's 2-1, 10-inning loss to Carolina at Five County Stadium.
Video: Down East's Hernandez records 10th strikeout
Hernandez walked Dallas Carroll to begin the first inning, but retired the next six in a row before Nathan Rodriguez led off the third with an infield single. The inning ended with a play at the plate, when Keston Hiura reached on an error by shortstop Anderson Tejada, who recovered to throw out Rodriguez at the plate for the final out of the frame.
The right-hander struck out Tucker Neuhaus and Weston Wilson for the first outs of the fourth, before Ryan Aguilar singled to right. Hernandez got Ronnie Gideon to ground out to third to get through the inning.
Gameday box score
Hernandez retired the Mudcats in order in the fifth. Brewers No. 1 prospect Keston Hiura walked with one out in the sixth, but the 21-year-old fanned Neuhaus and Wilson again to end the sixth and his third scoreless outing of the season.
The 10 strikeouts would have tied a career high for Hernandez, except he set a new mark with 11 in his previous start against Carolina on May 16. The Dominican Republic native lowered his ERA to 1.94, which ranks third in the league. His 62 strikeouts across eight starts tops the circuit.
"It's obviously the electric pitches he throws, especially his fastball," Wood Ducks pitching coach Steve Mintz told MiLB.com earlier this week. "He can sit 95, 98 and 99 [mph] most nights. He's throwing his slider in the upper-80s. Then he's got the changeup and the breaking ball that's working also. It's just seeing the quality of all four pitches and his understanding. That's kind of what it takes to pitch in the big leagues.
"Pitching them is one thing, but learning how to use them is another. The growth I've seen, and I've been with Jonathan for three years, and the maturity I've seen, not letting emotions take over and keep his shoulders high even when things might not be going well."
Hernandez threw 87 pitches -- 55 for strikes. Four ground-ball outs complemented his whiffs. He has taken it upon himself to limit free passes, and he's walked five batters over his last three starts (17 innings).
"One of the biggest things I need to do is get my walks down, and that's what I'm doing now," Hernandez told MiLB.com.
Anthony Gose, a converted center fielder now pitching in the Texas organization, pitched a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts and one walk. It was his third appearance of the season; he's tossed three scoreless innings total since May 15.
Rangers No. 1 prospect Leody Taveras walked three times and scored a run.