While the Augusta GreenJackets rotation has been anchored by top draft picks Chris Stratton and Martin Agosta, and they anxiously await the return of Joan Gregorio, another right-hander is establishing himself among a list of solid arms in Augusta.
Kendry Flores, a five-year member of the San Francisco Giants system, is quickly making a name for himself in his first season in the South Atlantic League.
The 21-year-old Flores has a 2.13 ERA in 42⅓ innings over seven starts, striking out 35 and walking eight. He has just one start where he allowed more than two runs.
Flores matched Savannah starter Rainy Lara in Thursday’s series opener, each throwing eight scoreless innings while combining to allow five hits.
Flores went into the ninth, walking three and striking out seven. Lara finished after eight, walking one and striking out nine.
“(Flores’) last outing was probably the best I’ve ever seen him,” manager Mike Goff said. “I had him a couple years ago in rookie ball and he had a couple games close to that. But as far as total command, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, commanding all of his pitches in the strike zone, he matched Lara pitch for pitch, and Lara is pretty good. Hopefully, he will build off that. That was pretty impressive.”
Flores throws a low-90s fastball with a two-seamer along with a curve ball and changeup that are fairly equal in development. He signed with the Giants at 17 years old in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic and is in his fourth stateside season, although it’s his first full-season assignment.
The extra short-season development seems to be giving Flores an advantage against SAL competition. Goff attributed Thursday’s success to pitching inside, something not all pitchers at that level are willing to do on a consistent basis.
“I think the biggest thing he did was he hammered the inside part of the plate, opened up the outside part, threw his breaking ball for a strike any time in the count,” Goff said. “When you have the ability to pitch in, it opens up everything else. He did that extremely well.”
STREAKING CLOSER: Right-hander Tyler Mizenko has become a staple as GreenJackets closer behind an impressive scoreless inning streak.
Mizenko entered the week tied for first in the league with 11 saves thanks to a 19-inning scoreless streak. He has recorded the most innings without allowing a run in the league.
Goff said Mizenko has been tough every time out, and it shows in the numbers.
The 28th-round pick in 2011 out of Winthrop has allowed just two hits in his past 10 outings, totaling 11 innings. While he has six walks over that span, and 10 this season, Mizenko has stretched them out well, allowing more than two walks in one outing twice.
Mizenko throws a low-90s fastball with sink, matching it with a hard breaking ball. His sinker has led to 28 ground balls compared to seven fly balls.