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'Hoppers' Paddack becoming automatic

Marlins No. 17 prospect stretches hitless streak to 15 1/3 innings
June 25, 2016

Chris Paddack knows that to put together a streak like the one he's got going, support and perhaps a few lucky breaks are necessary. On Saturday night, he got both.

For the third start in a row, the Marlins' No. 17 prospect didn't allow a hit over five frames, extending his hitless streak to 15 1/3 innings before Class A Greensboro dropped a 3-1, 10-inning decision to visiting Hickory.

The 20-year-old right-hander recorded nine strikeouts, all of them swinging, and walked none while throwing 42 of 60 pitches for strikes.

"My teammates and my family support me 100 percent," Paddack said. "The guys give me a hard time, for sure. They'll mess around and say stuff like, 'Hey, Paddack, when [are] you going to give up a hit?' But they're right there with me. I FaceTime with my brother, Michael, before every start, and that helps me get in game mood and gets me going.

"I had a few no-hitters in high school, but I don't think I've ever had this many consecutive hitless innings, so it's definitely getting to me a little bit, but I'm just trying to stay humble about it and go out there every day and having a game plan."

Paddack fanned his first two batters, then helped himself by sprawling off the mound and diving to catch a bunt attempt by Dylan Moore. 

"It was in no-man's land, right in between my third baseman, Giovanny Alfonzo, and me," Paddack said. "I didn't want to let it drop, so I just extended out there and dove to catch it. All the guys were pretty pumped in the dugout because pitchers don't get all that much support when they make good plays."

The Texas native also helped himself in the second to keep the streak alive. After striking out Tyler Sanchez to start the frame, Paddack plunked Jose Almonte before striking out Yeyson Yrizarri and snaring a liner off the bat of Ti'Quan Forbes.

"It happened so fast," he said. "After I saw the ball in my glove, it was an energy-booster. I was pumped and stomping off the mound trying to get everyone pumped because those ones that you need to duck to get out of the way and end up catching the ball, those ones are very fun. I guess you could say it was a sign that the streak was meant to continue."

Paddack plunked Moore with one out in the fourth, but that was the last baserunner he allowed. Although Moore tried to break up the streak with a bunt in the first, the 2015 eighth-round pick said he was just trying to establish himself on the inner half of the plate and didn't mean to hit the Crawdads first baseman.

"Hit-by-pitches are going to happen," Paddack said. "I wasn't intentionally hitting them, that's not me. [The bunt] didn't go through my mind, I was just trying to get him off the plate, and it kind of just happened."

Coincidentally, Paddack's streak began against the Crawdads on June 6 when Frandy De La Rosa laid down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth. Since then, he's allowed three baserunners while fanning 28 over his last 15 innings. In his last six starts, he has a 0.95 ERA and a 0.39 WHIP. 

"While I'm on the mound I never doubt myself or think any negative thoughts," Paddack said. "I think staying positive has been a big part of this. I've been able to maintain my focus and execute my game plan. When I'm starting, I don't think about the streak; once you think about that, stuff mistakes will start happening." 

Rangers No. 28 prospect Pedro Payano allowed one run on six hits and struck out eight over six innings for Hickory. 

The Crawdads tied the game on an error by Alfonzo in the ninth and took the lead in the 10th on Connor McKay's groundout.

John Werner (2-2) walked two and struck one in 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win. Omarlin Lopez got the last two outs to pick up his first save.

Ben Meyer (1-3) was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on two hits and a walk while fanning three in three innings.

John Silviano gave Greensboro a 1-0 lead in the sixth with his first homer of the season.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to