Bukauskas dominates in Hooks' debut

Astros No. 8 prospect gives up one hit over six shutout innings

J.B. Bukaukas has given up three runs on 10 hits over 29 innings in his last five starts. (Tammy Tucker/MiLB.com)

By Marisa Ingemi / MiLB.com | September 2, 2018 11:17 PM

There'd been more than a few stops this year for J.B. Bukauskas before he arrived in Corpus Christi.

Making his Double-A debut, the Astros No. 8 prospect gave up one hit over six innings as the Hooks celebrated their second-half division title with a 2-0 blanking of San Antonio on Sunday at Nelson Wolff Stadium.

Video: Eight Ks for Bukauskas

"It was a fun experience," said Bukauskas. "I've been on other teams this year that clinched, but not while I've been there. We got to celebrate tonight, which was cool. I think everyone is excited for the postseason and ready for hopefully a good playoff run."

Bukauskas began the year with Class A Quad Cities and made rehab starts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and with Class A Short Season Tri-City before returning to the Midwest League in July. Promoted to Class A Advanced Buies Creek in August, he went 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in five starts to earn a bump to the Texas League. 

"It's been a lot," said Bukauskas. "I was telling my dad the other day, it's kind of tough being the new guy every month or so. But it's been good. Being able to get out there and pitch, I feel healthy and stuff, it's awesome. I feel really happy to be where I am and getting out there healthy and pitching."

His debut with Corpus Christi was as seamless as possible.

"My fastball, cutter, curverball, slider, they were all pretty good," the 21-year-old said. "My changeup, I was trying to sprinkle in there. I would say those four were the best. The way the hitters command the strike zone was a little different than Buies Creek or Quad Cities. They had pretty good players, but here you have to execute pitches where you want to if you want to get a swing. But other than that, it's the same gameplan here."

Gameday box score

Bukauskas worked a 1-2-3 opening inning, punching out Peter Van Gansen and Padres No. 13 prospect Buddy Reed. He pitched around a leadoff walk by Kyle Overstreet in the second by getting 25th-ranked Austin Allen to ground into a double play.

The 2017 first-round pick pitched a perfect third and avoided trouble after issuing a two-out walk to Padres No. 15 prospect Josh Naylor in the fourth. Bukauskas again set down the side in order in the fifth, fanning two.

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Van Gansen lined a soft single to right field to break up the no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth, but Bukauskas ended his outing by retiring Reed on a roller to shortstop.

The University of North Carolina product exited a scoreless game, but the Hooks grabbed the lead in the eighth when Eduardo de Oleo singled home Ryne Birk. They padded it an inning later on Taylor Jones' RBI single.

"At this point, I'm kind of just going with everything," said Bakauskas. "I'm going to go out there and pitch the way that I pitch, just kind of taking things I learn in each place and implement them wherever I go, wherever I end up pitching."

Kit Scheetz (2-1) scattered four hits over the final three innings to get the win for the Hooks, who wrapped up the South Division second-half crown earlier in the day when second-place Frisco lost at Midland.

Marisa Ingemi is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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