Buehler rebounds in second Triple-A start

Top Dodgers prospect allows one hit, fans nine over five innings

Walker Buehler has surrendered 51 hits over 75 1/3 Minor League innings. (Josh Gurnick/Oklahoma City Dodgers)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | July 27, 2017 12:54 AM

There may be no second chances to make a good first impression, but Walker Buehler's start Wednesday night revealed much more about him than his Pacific Coast League debut did last week.

"It was nice to have a good outing after [my last start]," Los Angeles' top prospect said. "I wanted to kind of save the 'pen after I killed the 'pen last time."

In a return to form, Buehler gave up one run on one hit and two walks while striking out nine over five innings in Triple-A Oklahoma City's 8-7 victory over visiting Reno.

Video: Buehler records his ninth strikeout for OKC

The 22-year-old right-hander is in his first full season -- Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery after he was selected in the first round of the 2015 Draft -- and has climbed from Class A Advanced through Double-A to the PCL. Across the three levels, he's 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 21 games, including 19 starts, and has whiffed 100 over 70 1/3 innings.

But his Triple-A debut last Thursday was far and away the roughest outing of his pro career. Memphis tagged him for four runs on two hits and three walks, chasing him after five batters without recording an out.

"I wasn't so amped up," MLB.com's No. 13 overall prospect said. "I was just trying to throw quality strikes, and I was able to do that. Any time you move up a level, everything can feel different. But it's the same game, and you have to treat it the same. I didn't do a good job of that [in my debut]."

Gameday box score

Buehler's second start got off to a rocky opening too. Leadoff man Jeremy Hazelbaker tripled on an 0-2 pitch and scored on a one-out groundout by No. 28 D-backs prospect Christian Walker. No. 10 Socrates Brito worked a two-out walk. The early traffic didn't have the Vanderbilt product thinking about his previous start, though.

"Not as much as you would think, because last time was more on me for not throwing where I wanted to," he said. "And [Hazelbaker] is a good hitter and he put a good swing on a bad pitch [for that count]. They got the run in, and you've got to tip your hat and move on."

Buehler did just that after Brito's walk by retiring seven in a row -- four via the strikeout.

"The 1-2-3 second changed things up for me," he said, "and I got more comfortable as the game went on."

Walker worked a nine-pitch walk to start the fourth, but Buehler responded by striking out the side on 11 pitches.

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"He's another good hitter. He battled me to get the walk and he did a good job," he said. "I was just trying to throw strikes, and I got the ball more where I wanted [against the next three]. Luckily, I was able to get them out."

Buehler finished the fifth having thrown 56 of 79 pitches for strikes. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound righty has generally been held between 70 and 80 pitches this season.

"As a player, you always like to stay in longer when you're feeling good and it's going well, but that's part of it," he said. "After the surgery especially, they know more about that stuff than I do, so I just trust in their plan for me."

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No. 19 Dodgers prospect Edwin Rios went 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored.

Walker plated three runs and clubbed his 24th PCL homer -- second-most on the circuit behind Nashville's Renato Nunez with 26.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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