Not only did all four Atlanta Braves minor league teams go home victorious on Saturday night, but one team in the organization did more than just win.
Down in Kissimmee, Fla. Saturday night, the Atlanta Braves High-A club, the Florida Fire Frogs, faced off against the Hammerheads of Jupiter in some hot and muggy Florida State League action.
Florida's starting pitcher, Jasseel De La Cruz, took the bump Saturday evening, looking to stay locked in as the 21-year-old had been pitching excellent of late.
De La Cruz, the Braves 2015 international signee from the Dominican Republic, had totaled 19 innings pitched in his past three starts going into Saturday night.
In those three outings, the righty had struck out 22 batters and only walked five, while only surrendering six runs.
The latest stretch of hot pitching by De La Cruz has made the Atlanta Braves front office look rather smart, being that De La Cruz started the 2019 season in Rome (Single-A), making four starts before being promoted to Florida.
Well now the Braves brass can go ahead and pat themselves on the back for not only promoting De La Cruz back in April, but for signing the guy to begin with in 2015.
Just like in the big leagues, a complete-game from a starting pitcher in the minors is rare, let alone a no-hitter.
De La Cruz not only went all nine innings without surrendering a hit, but he did it while only throwing a measly 89 pitches (averaged 3.06 pitches/batter). With 54 strikes and 34 balls, De La Cruz was neither dominant nor impossible to make contact on, but did a masterful job of keeping the ball on the ground.
Here's his line from the no-hitter:
9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
It wasn't a power-pitching type of start for De La Cruz, but more of a pitch-to-contact type outing, which isn't his usual way of pitching but worked nonetheless on Saturday.
De La Cruz finished with 13 groundouts and 7 flyouts, a ratio illustrating that he had something in particular working and working good. Until we hear more from the game, we won't know for sure what pitch or pitches De La Cruz had going for him Saturday night.
Other Game Notes
The Florida offense was about as good as De La Cruz was on Saturday night, scoring 12 runs from a season-high 18 hits. The Fire Frogs only had four hits go for extra bases, but eight of nine Florida batters recorded a hit, with six batters finishing with a multi-hit game.
The only home run from Florida came from left fielder, Jefrey Ramos, who homered and finished 2-for-4 with two RBI, two runs, and a walk.
The 14th ranked prospect in the Braves system, Greyson Jenista, went 3-for-5 with a double and scored two runs. Jenista also stole a base.
Florida's first baseman on Saturday, Kevin Josephina, came away with a hit in all five of his at-bats, while plating two runs and scoring three runs of his own.
The Fire Frogs finished 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on the base paths.
The no-hitter by Florida on Saturday was the first no-hitter since the team was founded in 2017. The Fire Frogs almost accomplished a no-hitter by committee in 12 innings last season with starter and #4 prospect Ian Anderson taking part. But after nine no-hit innings from Anderson and reliever Brandon S. While, the bid was squandered in extra innings.
Who's Jasseel De La Cruz?
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De La Cruz has been a part of the Braves organization since 18-years-old, making it to Rome as a 21-year-old last season, where he made 13 starts and appeared in two more as a reliever.
In all last season, De La Cruz generated a 4.83 ERA in 69 innings pitched and finished with respectable rates of 8.5 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9.
At 6'1" and 180 lbs., De La Cruz is rather lanky but looks plenty capable of filling out more as he ages. His repertoire, thus far, includes a mid-90s MPH fastball, a slider that he can run up into the high-90s and a rarely-used changeup that can keep hitters honest with in the mid-80s MPH.
Scouting reports from his earlier days in the organization reported that De La Cruz sometimes struggled to command his pitches consistently and at times would lose a substantial amount of velocity throughout his outings; though, it has also been noted that he pitches with relative ease and has an easy follow through towards the plate.
Here's a short clip of his warmup before a game last season:
While he's not ranked by Fangraphs (the site I use for prospect rankings in my weekly recaps), MLB.com has De La Cuz ranked as the #25 prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, behind starting pitcher Tucker Davidson and in front of catcher Alex Jackson.
As I mentioned above, De La Cruz hasn't been in Florida long, with his promotion from Rome being only less than a month ago.
His start on Saturday night may not have looked dominant, but regardless of how pretty it looked, the end result was dominance on his part just by the given description of what De La Cruz accomplished -- no hits through nine innings.
Keep an eye on Jasseel De La Cruz. He has a bright future.