Francis Martes got in just enough trouble during his Triple-A debut to show he can work his way out of it.
"He was good, really good. He threw some good breaking balls and several changeups that were pretty good," Fresno pitching coach Dyar Miller said. "His fastball command [was] a little iffy, but he did a nice job."
Video: Martes records a strikeout
The Astros top prospect scattered five hits and three walks while striking out three over five innings in the Grizzlies' 5-2 loss to the visiting Reno Aces on Monday.
"It's a good first time out. He hadn't pitched in about 10 days, since Spring Training. His stuff was pretty good," Miller said, adding he didn't give the No. 19 overall prospect many notes ahead of his first Pacific Coast League start.
Martes was greeted by back-to-back singles from No. 28 D-backs prospect Ildemaro Vargas and Ketel Marte to open the game, but the 21-year-old's excitement wasn't to blame.
"I would say it was a matter of the ground balls finding some holes and getting through," Miller said. "The most impressive thing I saw, he had first and third, no outs, and he got a strikeout and a couple of little popups. That was real nice to see."
After escaping the first-inning jam, the right-hander permitted a two-out single on a dribbler back toward the mound by Kristopher Negron in the second and surrendered two walks to start the third. He ended that frame by punching out Oswaldo Arcia and inducing a double-play off the bat of 30th-ranked Arizona prospect Christian Walker.
The Dominican Republic native has reached 98 mph with his fastball, but Martes command with that 70-grade offering has not always been consistent.
"Basically, he started a game in the big league Spring Training and he didn't get out of the first. His next time, he was real good, [throwing three perfect innings] against Boston," Miller said. "He's young, and he's going to have some learning times. Hopefully the next time [the fastball command] will be better. But you've got to like him -- his stuff is good."
Martes shrugged off singles by Carlos Rivero in the fourth and Arcia in the fifth, and finished with 50 of 83 pitches for strikes.
"I thought he was pretty efficient," Miller said. "He made it through five innings -- that's pretty good. The first time out, all of our starters are an [80-pitch limit]. The next time out, it increases by 10 or 15."
Seventh-ranked Houston prospect Teoscar Hernandez homered, singled, walked and stole a base. Tyler White also went deep.
Vargas and Walker both had two hits and scored a run.
No. 24 D-backs prospect Frank Duncan -- making his debut in Arizona's system after coming from Pittsburgh in exchange for Phil Gosselin on Feb. 10 -- earned the win, giving up a run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts over six innings.