18 up, 18 down for Chaidez in first pro start
It had been three years since Adrian Chaidez took the hill to start a game. But the Astros organization decided last week it was time to stretch the 22-year-old out. So Chaidez got the ball for High-A Asheville on Wednesday, and he responded with authority -- and perfection.
It had been three years since Adrian Chaidez took the hill to start a game.
But the Astros organization decided last week it was time to stretch the 22-year-old out. So Chaidez got the ball for High-A Asheville on Wednesday, and he responded with authority -- and perfection.
In the first start of his pro career, the right-hander twirled six unblemished frames, fanning a career-high nine, and Asheville held on late for a 3-2 victory over Jersey Shore at ShoreTown Ballpark.
"I've been preparing for this the last five days, and I had less adrenaline and nerves coming into tonight than I did with any of my previous relief outings," Chaidez said. "It was my first start since junior college, and I was just really loose and settled in the bullpen before the game. I went over the scouting report, I was laughing and joking around. I had a good feel for all my pitches there, and I just brought it into the game with me."
The 22-year-old was part of the rotation his sophomore year at Cypress College before transferring to UCLA for his junior season. He operated exclusively out of the Bruins' bullpen for two years before Houston drafted Chaidez in the 15th round (448th overall) in 2021.
He appeared in four games out of the bullpen in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League last season, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out 15 over 6 1/3 frames. This season, Chaidez has made two relief appearances for the Tourists -- yielding five runs on six knocks and a walk with nine whiffs over 4 2/3 innings.
But taking the hill against the BlueClaws, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder looked completely different.
"I felt really good the entire way," Chaidez said. "Never got tired and my stuff stayed sharp. Good depth on my curveball, sweep on the slider, command of the fastball. I just wanted to get ahead and attack.
"It hit me around the fourth inning what was going on, but it didn't really faze me. I was still loose in the dugout and messing around with the guys."
Chaidez coaxed fourth-ranked Phillies prospect Johan Rojas into hitting a weak ground ball to short to open the game before fanning Philadelphia's No. 14 prospect Casey Martin on four pitches. The 22-year-old whiffed D.J. Stewart on six pitches as he settled in and cruised the rest of the way.
He didn't need more than 13 pitches to navigate any inning -- getting through the fourth on just four. The California native recorded a pair of strikeouts in four of his six frames and exited after tossing 62 pitches -- 46 for strikes.
Of the 18 batters he faced, only nine balls were put into play and only four of those made it beyond the infield.
"We actually didn't even realize it was a perfect game in the dugout until the sixth inning," Tourists pitching coach Jose Rada said. "But no one was surprised, we know he has great stuff and he attacked their hitters all night.
"He knew he was going to get a start at some point this year, and we gave him the ball tonight and he did a great job. He got ahead, mixed well, got them to swing at the high fastball when he needed it. It was a great effort all around really -- the defense was great, the offense delivered. Great team win."
The Tourists put Chaidez in line for the victory after Houston's No. 21 prospect Jordan Brewer drove in J.C. Correa (brother of Carlos Correa) to break the scoreless stalemate with two outs in the fifth. But after a missed catch error at first base broke up the perfect game in the seventh and Jared Carr ended the no-hit bid with a one-out triple in the eighth, the BlueClaws took the lead.
The Tourists rallied in the ninth, though. Correa singled in a run to tie the game in the ninth, then came around to score following consecutive balks by Jersey Shore righty Carlos Francisco.
"It was an amazing comeback by the guys to finish it off," Chaidez said. "It makes what I did so much better after you go down and then come back and win it in the last inning. There's no better feeling in the world than that."
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.