ValleyCats' West continues hot start

Astros' 17th-round pick lowers ERA to 0.88 in sixth pro outing

By Robert Emrich / Special to | July 20, 2012 7:25 PM ET

Aaron West credits his teammates for the success he's enjoyed early in his professional career. He should probably keep some for himself.

The Astros' 17th-round pick in last month's Draft allowed two hits and struck out seven over seven innings Friday night as short-season Tri-City blanked Vermont, 6-0.

West (4-0) allowed a leadoff single to John Wooten in the second inning and a two-out double to Wilfredo Solano in the fifth. He retired his last seven batters and faced three batters over the minimum in his longest outing as a pro.

"Everything was working," West said. "I only threw two changeups, I mainly threw the fastball and slider tonight. My slider was really sharp. I didn't really need to use any changeups tonight. In fastball situations, I would throw off-speed and in off-speed counts, I would throw fastball to keep their body going backward."

Since being drafted out of the University of Washington, West has been nearly untouchable. The 23-year-old right-hander leads the New York-Penn League with a 0.88 ERA in six starts, allowing 15 hits over 30 2/3 innings. He shares the lead in wins and holds down the top spot with a 0.55 WHIP.

"I think the key has been the team and the run support," West said. "I can go out there and throw strikes and they can hit it and I can give up a run. We have the offense that they can go out there and support me and keep us in the ballgame. It feels great.

"You work through high school and college and it feels good to come out there and show how your work can pay off. Hopefully, I can keep getting better and work my way up the system."

The ValleyCats extended their road winning streak to 13 games with their league-best 24th victory overall. West attributes their success to a team-first mentality.

"I think it's just getting the rest on the road trip," the Washington native said. "We're all not used to the bus trips, the team picks up each other on the road, make sure we get our rest and we come out hard in the first inning. We jump on them as quick as we can and try and put the pressure on them at home."

Preston Tucker paced Tri-City with a homer and five RBIs.

"It was huge. I think we scored six runs and he had five of them," West said of the seventh-round pick out of the University of Florida. "It was a huge performance."

Lake Monsters starter Kristopher Hall, the A's eighth-round selection, allowed one hit over three shutout innings but did not figure in the decision.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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