Jesse Scholtens had trouble commanding the inner half of the plate early in his start on Friday, so he and catcher Austin Allen devised a plan to keep the opposition guessing. "Early, and for the whole game really, it was being able to locate my fastball low and away," the Padres
Jesse Scholtens had trouble commanding the inner half of the plate early in his start on Friday, so he and catcher Austin Allen devised a plan to keep the opposition guessing.
"Early, and for the whole game really, it was being able to locate my fastball low and away," the Padres prospect said. "I wasn't able to go inside with success, but that happens. I was able to locate it away."
Keeping the ball down, Scholtens allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight over seven innings as Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore blanked Rancho Cucamonga, 4-0, at The Diamond.
Gameday box score
"I'm feeling good," Scholtens said. "Today, it was a fun one. We were able to scrap just enough runs to win it. Me and Allen were on the same page today, which always makes for a fun night as a pitcher. ... I think early my breaking balls worked. As I got into the game, I kind of lost the feel for them, but I got the feel for the fastball. Those were the keys to success."
The 23-year-old started the season with Class A Fort Wayne, where he compiled a 2.45 ERA and 37 strikeouts in six starts. He earned a promotion to the California Leage on May 14 and is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA through five outings in a league known for offense.
"As far as my approach goes, no, I stay the stay the same," he said. "I use my off-speed pitches off my fastball. The big difference I've noticed in the California League from the Midwest League is hitters put the ball in play more often. If you make a bad pitch, they might not miss as often as they would in the Midwest League."
Scholtens has fanned 20 in his last three outings, something he believes is due to effective deployment of his entire arsenal.
"I'm not out there looking to strike out hitters," he said. "If they can get themselves out on the first couple of pitches, it makes my life easier. I think I have the strikeout stuff, I think I've been able to locate my pitches enough to get some swings and misses on it."
The 2016 ninth-round pick got into a groove early, fanning five of the first seven batters he faced. Jared Walker drew a two-out walk in the second but was stranded at first, the same fate Omar Estevez met after singling with two outs in the third.
After a 1-2-3 fourth, the Quakes tested Scholtens when Ibandel Isabel singled and Victor Roache walked with one out in the fifth. But the 23-year-old got Brandon Montgomery to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
"We had a base open, so it was better than giving up a double or something somewhere," he said of the walk to Roache. "And Montgomery, I know he likes the ball low, so it was about locating the fastball again and have him swing. And that's what I was looking to do there."
Scholtens retired his final six batters on 17 pitches to cap his first seven-inning performance in the Cal League.
"After that you, feel good. You don't plan on going seven shutout every start, but to be able to keep your team in the game and eventually win the game, you definitely feel good about it," he said. "You kind of shoot for those kinds of outings. You want to go six or seven or eight. It's a goal that every pitcher has. It's not so much that 'I want to go seven innings,' it's more of thinking, 'That's what I'm going to do.'"
The Wright State product believes he can replicate Friday's success over the final 2 1/2 months of the season.
"If I've done it before, I think I'm capable of doing it some more," Scholtens said. "As long as I keep my approach, I think I can see similar results."
Gerardo Reyes and Trevor Frank each pitched a scoreless inning to wrap up the Storm's fifth shutout of the season.
Chris Baker homered, doubled and drove in three runs, while 13th-ranked Padres prospect Josh Naylor went 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Storm.
Dodgers No. 24 prospectDennis Santana (3-4) fanned eight over but four innings for the Quakes but surrendered four runs on seven hits and a walk.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.