Chasers' Junis ties career high with 12 K's
Jake Junis has received small doses of the big leagues this season. On Friday, he pitched like someone looking for a more permanent role.The Royals' No. 5 prospect tied his career high with 12 strikeouts and allowed two hits and a walk over seven scoreless frames in Triple-A Omaha's 8-3,
Jake Junis has received small doses of the big leagues this season. On Friday, he pitched like someone looking for a more permanent role.
The Royals' No. 5 prospect tied his career high with 12 strikeouts and allowed two hits and a walk over seven scoreless frames in Triple-A Omaha's 8-3, 11-inning win over Nashville at First Tennessee Park.
"I was throwing a lot of strikes, trying to get ahead with the first pitch," Junis said. "It's always important to get that first-pitch strike. I think I did really well in that aspect, whether it was a fastball or an off-speed pitch keeping them off-balance."
Gameday box score
Junis retired the first six Sounds before issuing a leadoff walk to
"I didn't even make a good pitch," Junis said with a laugh. "I pulled a fastball almost into the other batter's box, it seemed like, and [Gallagher] had to reach a long way for it. He threw a strike to second base and bailed me out."
The right-hander struck out the next five batters while retiring seven in a row.
"It was a ball hit down the line. That's usually a sure double, and he cut that thing off in a matter of seconds and threw it in and nailed the guy at second," Junis said.
After pitching a clean sixth, Junis faced the top of the Nashville order in the seventh. Although A's top prospect
"The meat of their lineup is a lot of really good hitters," Junis said. "I've played against those guys quite a bit last year in Double-A and Triple-A, so I know that they're really good hitters.
"Barreto, I was ahead in the count on him, too. I made a mistake and he took advantage of it. Hats off to him. I was just glad I got through that inning and gave my team an opportunity to win the game."
Junis lowered his ERA to 2.48 over 36 1/3 innings in six starts for the Storm Chasers. After registering his highest strikeout total since he punched out 12 on Aug. 13, 2013 with Rookie-level Idaho Falls, the 2011 29th-round pick ranks fifth in the Pacific Coast League with 48 strikeouts.
The Ilinois native has shuttled back and forth between Omaha and the big leagues this season. He was recalled for five days on April 12, then made single appearances on May 9 and May 21. Junis, who's 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA over 6 2/3 innings with Kansas City, said he has not taken that experience for granted.
"Getting called up, whether it's for five days like my first time or a day at a time like my last two, it's definitely different," he said. "At the end of the day, I'll take all the time I can get up there, even if it is one day at a time. That experience up there, the times that I've had, have really helped me get better as a pitcher. I've just been trying to bring those things down here to try and work those things into my game, and it's worked out."
Gallagher delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 11th off
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.