If there is a moment in which a starting pitcher raises his game to another level, Angel Yepez had one following a leadoff walk in the top of the second inning Monday.
After issuing a free pass to Brandon Wagner, he didn't allow any of the next 15 batters the privilege of touching first base.
The Rays right-hander didn't allow a hit over a career-high six innings as Class A Short Season Hudson Valley held off Staten Island, 7-5, at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. The right-hander fanned four and walked two.
"He was in an unbelievable rhythm," said Renegades pitching coach Brian Reith. "He walked the leadoff man in the second, and then he just caught fire and retired the next 15 in a row. It was great to see.
"He was pounding the zone, working down in the zone. He had good movement on his fastball and good depth on his slider. He had all of his pitches working tonight and that's always going to help him be successful."
Yepez (1-0) had never gone more than five innings in a start, but was able to work through the sixth on an efficient 63 pitches -- 42 of which were strikes. The 6-foot-1, 215 pound hurler came into the game with a 6.23 ERA over 7 2/3 innings in his first two starts with Hudson Valley. But his coach noted there was little difference in his approach to Monday's start.
"There wasn't really anything different (in his preparation)," said Reith. "He seemed relaxed before the game, looked confident. He was staying loose and joking around a bit, which was good to see because he's a guy who's usually more within himself. It was great to see him loose and ready to go. But I think it was just his ability to make pitches."
Yepez is in his second pro season since the Rays signed him to a Minor League deal in 2013. He lost much of his first season to a drug suspension, but he gave the organization a taste of his potential last year when he went 2-3 with a 1.73 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings over 19 appearances for the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League Rays and Gulf Coast League Rays. According to Reith, the 20-year-old has a very high ceiling.
"He's a very young kid," he said. "But he's got tons of potential. If he learns how to trust himself, trust his stuff and continue to work on repeating his delivery, the sky's the limit for him.
"Starting tomorrow, he has to get right back out there and get after it right away and work hard, really work on staying consistent."
Diego Castillo entered the game in the seventh and Staten Island's Griffin Gordon singled to break up the no-hitter. Castillo was eventually tagged for three runs on four hits in one frame. Luis Urena and Tomas Michelson each allowed a run in their inning of work to close out the game, with Michelson earning his first save.
Cade Gotta went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Alex Schmidt plated two and scored once for the Renegades.
Derek Callahan (2-1) took the loss for the Yankees after being tagged for five runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com.