Brock Burke was perfect on Friday night. The Double-A Frisco bullpen almost followed suit.
The ninth-ranked Rangers prospect did not allow a baserunner while striking out six over five innings, teaming with three relievers on a one-hitter, as the RoughRiders blanked Arkansas, 3-0, at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Video: Frisco's Burke perfect through five
Burke struck out the side in the fourth during a string of five straight punchouts. He threw 45 of 59 pitches for strikes and went to a three-ball count on only two batters.
The 22-year-old was 0-5 with a 4.40 ERA over 28 2/3 innings in six Texas League starts. He was the RoughRiders' Opening Night starter, taking the loss after yielding an unearned run in five frames, then went on the seven-day injured list with a blister on his pitching hand. He came back and made two starts before returning to the IL on April 23, battling shoulder fatigue and more blistering.
"Finally, things went my way tonight," he said. "The blisters were certainly frustrating. I went to Spring Training and threw five innings, six innings twice and had some arm, shoulder fatigue at the end of Spring Training.
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"After my finger just blew out with the blister, I had to think about my future -- not just pitching through it. I had to step back, make sure my arm was healthy."
Before rejoining Frisco on June 26, the southpaw made one rehab start in the Rookie-level Arizona League and another with Class A Hickory.
Burke noted the long bus ride between Tulsa, where Frisco wrapped up Thursday, to Little Rock took its toll on his pregame preparations.
"I was not in the mind of how I usually feel, that's for sure," he said. "I felt rusty the first two innings. By the fourth, the second time through the order, I felt better.
"I had a lot of swing-and-miss with the slider. I've also been throwing my changeup way too hard. While I was out, I learned to take off some velocity, and the last three starts it's performed better. Once I was able to locate on the edges of the plate, it all came together."
James Jones pitched the sixth and seventh before giving way to Jacob Lemoine for the eighth. Emmanuel Clase faced the minimum in the ninth but lost the no-hit bid on a one-out single by Jordan Cowan, who was thrown out by left fielder Brendon Davis trying to stretch it for a double.
The only other blemish on the Frisco ledger came with two outs in the sixth, when Jones plunked Cowan with a 3-1 pitch. He coaxed 28th-ranked Mariners prospect Donnie Walton to pop up to second to end the inning.
A third-round pick in the 2014 Draft by Tampa Bay, Burke was part of a three-team trade in December that sent Jurickson Profar from the Rangers to Oakland. With the shoulder and blister issues behind him, Burke is focused on being the pitcher Texas coveted in that swap.
"I was excited about the trade," he said. "I couldn't ask more from the Rays. They do a great job developing high school pitchers, but the Rays are loaded with prospects.
2019 MiLB include
"I think I'll be a better fit with the Rangers. I'd definitely like to pitch at [Globe Life Park in Arlington] and at the new ballpark next year. I think that would be really cool."
Preston Beck had three hits to lead the RoughRiders, while Ryan Dorow added two. Davis and Yonny Hernandez each knocked in one run and scored another.
Mariners No. 24 prospect Ricardo Sanchez (6-6) took the loss. The left-hander allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five in four innings.