Over the final three months last season with Class A Advanced Dunedin, Jordan Romano had the luxury of offensive support from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, MLB.com's third and 13th overall prospects, respectively.
"Having those guys in the lineup is great. I'm glad I don't have to face them," Romano said.
Those two big bats have joined him with New Hampshire and the Jays' No. 27 prospect was brilliant in his second start at the Double-A level. He yielded three hits while striking out seven over seven innings Wednesday as the Fisher Cats blanked Trenton, 4-0, at Arm & Hammer Park.
Gameday box score
The 24-year-old laid out a plan with catcher Patrick Cantwell and pitching coach Vince Horsman before the game that called for a more eclectic pitch mix. He said he wanted to feature his changeup rather than relying too heavily on his fastball and slider.
"Pat would just call his pitches, I would try to execute," Romano said. "For this year, moving up another level, a good mix is very important, just to keep hitters off-balance, so they can't sit on a certain pitch."
The 6-foot-4 right-hander retired every batter he faced for the first six innings with the exception of center fielder Ben Ruta. Ruta singled to center field and stole a base with two outs in the second and knocked another base hit to left with one out in the fifth. Trey Amburgey got to Romano with a leadoff double to center in the seventh.
Video: 'Cats' Romano notches seventh K
The 2014 10th-round pick rebounded to strike out Bruce Caldwell and got Jhalan Jackson to bounce to third, setting up a final showdown with Ruta. The 23-year-old outfielder rolled over a 3-2 curveball to second base for the final out as Romano's night ended after 86 pitches, 58 for strikes.
"That was a pretty big inning. ... My pitch count was getting up there, so it was great. [Manager John] Schneider trusted me, left me in there and ultimately finished out everything," Romano said. "The feeling when you're executing your pitches and when the defense is playing that great behind you, it's a nice feeling. So I was just up there, trying to mix, trying to attack and it worked out tonight."
Romano (1-0) allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with six punchouts over five innings in his first Double-A start on Friday.
Wednesday's outing was the first in which the Oral Roberts product was able to go seven frames without allowing a run since last July with Dunedin. He completed his stint in the Florida State League with a 7-5 record, 3.39 ERA and 138 strikeouts in as many innings.
A native of the Toronto suburb of Markham, Romano pitched 2 2/3 innings with the Major League club this spring and allowed one earned run with four walks in three appearances.
"Seeing how hard the big league pitching staff works day in and day out to be as good as they are really made a lasting impression on me," he said. "It makes me want to work just that much harder to make it up there. Interacting with the big league staff was great, made me feel at home from Day 1."
Video: Guerrero knocks in a run for New Hampshire
Guerrero, the Jays' top prospect, doubled to the opposite field in the third and smacked a run-scoring single through the middle in the seventh. The 19-year-old is 7-for-23 (.304) with five extra-base hits and eight RBIs through his first six Eastern League games.
Bichette blooped a single to right in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to six games. Toronto's No. 2 prospect has 11 hits in his first 28 at-bats (.393) in Double-A.
"Both of those guys are phenoms," Romano said. "What impressed me the most is how great of teammates they are. Young guys but great leaders in the clubhouse."