Connor Sadzeck wants to prove himself as a staple for Double-A Frisco and the Rangers organization this year. If he continues doing what he did on Friday night, it will be hard to make a case against him.
Texas' No. 27 prospect allowed two hits and a walk over six scoreless innings to pitch the RoughRiders to a 6-3 win over Northwest Arkansas at Arvest Ballpark.
Sadzeck's line in his season debut, which included three strikeouts, looked much better than the last few times he pitched in the Texas League.
"I think last year I just put a lot of pressure on myself because I was coming off Tommy John surgery and knew I had the possibility of being added to the 40-man roster," he said. "I added that stress to myself. But this year I can kind of rest easier, knowing that I'm healthy, and I can be a little more relaxed."
Sadzeck posted a 9.61 ERA in seven appearances with Frisco in 2015 after registering a 3.98 ERA in 11 games with Class A Advanced High Desert. The 24-year-old right-hander sat out the entire 2014 campaign after he led the Class A South Atlantic League with a 2.25 ERA.
Selected in the 11th round of the 2011 Draft out of Howard College in Texas, Sadzeck featured a fastball that sat in the upper 90s and occasionally reached triple digits. After the surgery put a hold on his progression, he had to climb the ladder all over again.
Against the Naturals, Sadzeck needed only 64 pitches to get through six innings, throwing 43 for strikes and benefiting from a pair of ground-ball double plays. He also got help from center fielder Lewis Brinson, the Rangers' No. 2 prospect who threw out Raul Mondesi trying to stretch a single into a double in the bottom of the first.
"I felt like I was just pitching to contact, throwing my fastball over the plate," Sadzeck said. "The velocity was good and my breaking pitches were effective as well."
With a mid-80s slider and an average changeup to complement his fastball, developing a rhythm with those pitches and staying off the disabled list are key, he added.
"Just try to work on my consistency and going deep in ballgames for my team," Sadzeck said. "Work on being efficient and letting my teammates make the plays. Just kind of learning how to pitch while proving to myself and the organization that I'm healthy and going to be consistent."
Sadzeck was buoyed by a five-run sixth highlighted by Alex Burg's two-run double. Brinson contributed two hits, an RBI and a run scored.
Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng