Even with the limitations being placed on him, Jesse Hahn still has a lofty goal for the year. If he continues to put together outings like Thursday's, he'll reach it.
The Padres' No. 13 prospect tossed five one-hit innings as Double-A San Antonio blanked Northwest Arkansas, 3-0, on Thursday.
Hahn struck out three and did not walk a batter in his longest outing of the season for the Missions. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed only a one-out single to Jorge Bonifacio in the fourth inning. He erased Bonifacio by getting Cheslor Cuthbert to hit into a 1-4-3 double play to end the frame.
"Just throwing strikes," Hahn said. "Staying ahead of hitters and got ahead early and stayed ahead throughout the game. I was able to put them away. My catcher, Austin Hedges, did a very good job calling the game."
Hahn, who had Tommy John surgery in 2011, was acquired by the Padres in a January seven-player deal that sent Logan Forsythe and Brad Boxberger to the Rays. In his first season with the organization, the Connecticut native is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 10 Texas League appearances. Despite the success, Hahn remains on a limit of five innings or 75 pitches, making Thursday's success all the sweeter.
"It was awesome," he said. "I've been waiting to do that all year. It felt awesome to feel like a starting pitcher again."
Hahn underwent right foot surgery shortly after he recovered from his Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss most of the first two years of his career. Since then, the Virginia Tech product has thrown 119 innings heading into this year.
"First and foremost, my main goal is to stay healthy this year," Hahn said. "I want to keep throwing well, keep winning for the team, and at the end of the year, hopefully get a shot to pitch up in the Major Leagues. Just keep my eye on the prize."
The surgeries may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the 2010 sixth-round pick.
"I feel more polished," he said. "I learned a lot these four years of professional baseball. In college, before the surgery, I was just a hard thrower. My mechanics were out of whack and now they are all cleaned up. I became a pitcher. Going through all those surgeries and being on the disabled list, it helped me out a lot."
Casey McElroy got the Missions on the board early, smacking an RBI double in the first. Rymer Liriano, the Padres' No. 6 prospect, drew a bases-loaded walk and Jason Hagerty hit a sacrifice fly in the third to account for the scoring.
Tim Melville fell to 1-4 after giving up three runs -- two earned -- on four hits over six innings.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.