J.C. Sulbaran may be only 22 years old, but he already has a world of experience. The Reds' No. 8 prospect
was a member of the Netherlands team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic and later that year joined the World team at the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis.
So when he took the hill for Double-A Pensacola on Saturday against Tyler Skaggs, MLB.com's No. 21 prospect, he didn't bat an eye.
Sulbaran allowed two hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings to outpitch Skaggs and help the Blue Wahoos defeat the Mobile BayBears, 6-1.
"I don't really focus on the other guy," Sulbaran said. "I'm just going out there trying to get a win. I'm out there to face the hitters, not the other pitcher. So it doesn't matter if it's a great prospect like Skaggs or some guy who hasn't pitched well, my focus is to just get the win."
A 30th-round pick in the 2008 Draft, Sulbaran (1-0) struck out four and walked three en route to his first Double-A win. Only two BayBears reached second base while the 6-foot-2, 220-pound right-hander was on the mound.
The native of Curacao, who coaxed six groundouts and only two fly balls, passed around the praise.
"Good defense helped," he said. "I was trying to keep the ball down in the zone and get some ground balls, which the defense did a good job of containing. I was talking to my catcher [Brian Peacock], too, and he helped me focus on keeping the ball down. Plus, being the fifth pitcher in the [five-game] series and having seen everyone else face the hitters, that was good, too."
Sulbaran lowered his ERA to 1.64 in two starts. In his season debut against Montgomery last weekend, he gave up two runs on six ihts over 5 1/3 frames. A year ago, he was 9-6 with a 4.60 ERA in 26 starts in the hitter-friendly California League.
Sulbaran said he's already noted some differences in the Southern League that could work to his advantage.
"The fields and winds are different here. Last year in the Cal League, some of those hits I gave up today, they would've been homers. Here, they're just fly balls," he explained. "Because of that, players over there know they can wait for their pitch. It's not the same here."
Reds No. 7 prospect Didi Gregorius collected three hits and scored a run for Pensacola, which got a three-run double from Yordanys Perez.
Skaggs (0-1) pitched five innings and was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits. He walked two and struck out eight as his ERA climbed to 3.27.
Pinch-hitter Raoul Torrez singled home the BayBears' lone run in the seventh. D-backs' No. 5 prospect Matt Davidson went 0-for-3, ending his streak of six consecutive multi-hit games.