Jose Soriano spent three months in the Midwest League as a 19-year-old last season. His repeat campaign is going well enough that he might not be on the circuit much longer.
The 13th-ranked Angels prospect tossed six hitless frames as Class A Burlington took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning of a 7-0 blanking of Dayton at Fifth Third Field. Soriano (3-2) struck out nine, walked three and lowered his ERA to 1.72.
Video: Bees' Soriano whiffs Martinez
The right-hander got rolling early with two strikeouts in the opening frame. A six-pitch walk to No. 19 Reds prospect Mariel Bautista only briefly derailed his dominance before Soriano used eight more pitches to retire the side in the second.
"I was working primarily on my curveball," he said through a team translator. "Just locating it and throwing it for strikes in certain counts and taking it pitch by pitch."
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After sitting down the next six batters to cruise into the fifth, free passes to Shard Munroe and No. 24 Reds prospect Bren Spillane put the 20-year-old in a jam. Bees pitching coach Jonathan Van Eaton paid a visit to the mound. The message, Soriano said, was to take a deep breath and not veer from the gameplan. That worked as he got Dylan Harris to strike out swinging, Morgan Lofstrom to fly out to left and Reniel Ozuna to ground out to second to end the threat.
Punchouts of No. 28 Reds prospect Jonathan Willems and Juan Martinez in the sixth got Soriano through his final hitless frame. He threw 52 of his 88 pitches for strikes.
2019 MiLB include
The Dominican Republic native signed for $70,000 in 2016 and first played stateside the following year. In 52 1/3 innings between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Rookie Advanced Pioneer League, he posted a 2.92 ERA, which was good enough for the Angels to push him to the Midwest League at age 19. Soriano issued 35 walks -- 21 during six August starts -- while striking out 42, but he held hitters to a .217 average in 46 1/3 innings after beginning 2018 in extended spring training.
"The way I finished the year in Burlington wasn't to my satisfaction," Soriano said. "So this year's plan was to put the last year in the past and to focus on what I need to focus on this year to become a better pitcher."
And what is it that he needs to emphasize to get there? His focus.
"Every time I get on the mound, whether it was a bullpen or in the game, I get myself mentally prepared to be as consistent as possible," Soriano said, "to limit those errors of throwing pitches outside of the zone."
Video: Dragons' Hernandez breaks up Bees' no-no bid
Austin Krzeminski kept the no-hitter alive with perfect innings in the seventh and eighth. The 22-year-old then faced Miguel Hernandez to lead off the ninth. On the third pitch of the at-bat, the right-hander left one over the heart of the plate and Hernandez lined a single up the middle.
The chance at a milestone was over, but Dayton's first baserunner since the fifth didn't stay long. Krzeminski got Willems to ground into a double play on the next pitch, and after Martinez walked, Bautista lined out to second to the end the game.
The Bees chased Dayton starter Jhon De Jesus (1-3) in a three-run first highlighted by RBI doubles from Francisco Del Valle and Gleyvin Pineda. No. 14 Angels prospect Kevin Maitan, Nonie Williams and D.C. Arendas later ripped solo home runs.