Littell delivers stellar sequel for Thunder

Yankees No. 20 prospect fans 10 in second Eastern League outing

Zack Littell is 11-1 with a 1.49 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 84 1/3 innings in 15 appearances this season. (Kevin Pataky/

By Alex Kraft / | June 27, 2017 11:29 PM

Some sequels stand up to the original. Case in point: Zack Littell's second Double-A start.

The Yankees No. 20 prospect gave up three hits and two walks while striking out 10 over six scoreless innings Tuesday as the Trenton Thunder topped the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 10-4, at ARM & HAMMER Park.

Littell (2-0) yielded an unearned run on two hits and three walks while fanning 10 in seven innings against Hartford in his Thunder debut on June 15. The right-hander returned to Class A Advanced Tampa the next day, but headed back up to the Eastern League on Monday.

Gameday box score

The second outing proved more arduous as Littell faced at least one runner in scoring position in four of his six innings. The 21-year-old also worked around two wild pitches. 

"He doesn't get rattled at all," Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell said. "He's very confident in the way he pitches and his stuff, and he keeps going with what he's got. He doesn't try to overthrow."

Video: Thunder's Littell notches 10th strikeout

Littell remained unbeaten with 20 strikeouts in 13 innings for the Thunder. He has yet to allow an earned run at Double-A. His skipper said the hurler's demeanor has impressed him almost as much as the numbers.

"He's driven, no doubt about it," Mitchell said. "It might not be outwardly driven, but you know. The way he just takes the ball and nothing bothers him. He just gets out there and pitches. His demeanor is so calm. … So far, I haven't seen any kinks in the armor at all."

Having already made the trip from Tampa to Trenton and back once this month, Littell may have earned himself a more permanent stay after the latest gem.

"We're happy to have him back and figured he would be back," Mitchell said. "He proved tonight he can pitch here in the upper levels."

Meanwhile, Jorge Mateo, New York's fourth-ranked prospect, made his Eastern League debut for the Thunder. Ranked as's No. 38 overall prospect, the 22-year-old infielder beat out a pair of infield singles and scored once. He also showed off his range in the field on a second-inning grounder by Ryan Lollis.

Video: Trenton's Mateo flashes range in the hole

"I haven't seen a lot of him, but I knew he could run. He made a great play in the six-hole," Mitchell said. "He made a throw to first off balance where you wonder how a guy can put it right on first base when he's moving the way he is.

"He's another confident kid. … Speed kills, and he has a lot of it. He was able to get a couple hits tonight primarily because he can run. We're really happy to have him, we really are."

Zack Zehner finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and fell a triple shy of the cycle for Trenton.

Richmond's Brandon Bednar drove in two runs on two doubles.

Flying Squirrels starter Cory Taylor (2-6), the Giants No. 20 prospect, surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on six hits and struck out two over 5 1/3 frames.

Alex Kraft is a contributor to Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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