When Arodys Vizcaino surrendered two runs on three hits in the first inning Saturday, it looked like he was in for a long night. Turns out, he was just getting settled in.
The highly touted Braves prospect did not allow a hit over his final four innings and struck out six as the Lynchburg Hillcats held on for a season-opening 6-5 victory over the Potomac Nationals.
"I think it's just [his first start], a little nerves just settling in," Hillcats pitching coach Derek Botelho said of Vizcaino's first-inning difficulties. "It was about feeling comfortable out there -- he hasn't seen a hitter in about six days. He showed why he is who he is after that first inning. The ability and talent came out after that. After that, he was pretty dominant."
Vizcaino (1-0) retired 12 of the next 13 hitters following the opening inning, allowing only a walk to Destin Hood in the fourth. The 20-year-old right-hander threw mostly in the 94 mph range, topping out at 97.
"His fastball was explosive and he threw a few outstanding curves," said Botelho, who pitched in the Majors for the Royals and Cubs. "He showed a lot of maturity for a guy as young as he is, changing speed with his breaking balls early and getting ahead in the count with the curveball. His command of all three of his pitches was sharp after the first."
After the Hillcats took the lead with a three-run third, Vizcaino came out to face the top of the Nationals' lineup in the bottom of the frame. He set them down on six pitches, striking out one.
"After we got that three-spot in the top of the third, he went out and had a 1-2-3 inning, probably his best inning," Botelho said. "He got their No. 3 hitter [Rick Hague] on a pretty good curveball. He went out there and shut the door."
Lynchburg tacked on three runs in the eighth, giving it enough of a cushion to withstand Potomac's three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Although he still has a long road to the big leagues, Vizcaino's potential is obvious.
"He's only 20 years old. The sky's the limit with this kid," Botelho said.