Right-handed pitcher Brooks Pounders was two plays away from perfection on Thursday night.
Instead, he held the Midland Rockhounds hitless in Northwest Arkansas’s 11-0 win. I guess that’s alright.
Pounders used just 98 pitches to dispatch the Rockhounds, allowing runners only on a Matt Fields error in the third inning and by hitting Tyler Ladendorf in the fifth. Otherwise, he was shutting them down in order every time. Pounders struck out six on the evening with no walks.
That’s good for a game score of 93, if you’re scoring at home.
The no-hitter makes this the third year in a row in which the Naturals have no-hit an opponent. Will Smith and Kelvin Herrera combined on a no-hitter in 2011 while Chris Dwyer, Kendal Volz, Brendan Lafferty and Greg Holland (in a rehab appearance) combined for another last season. Pounders, obviously, is the only one to go the distance himself.
Pounders has been slowly working his way up through the Royals system after being acquired in December 2011 from the Pirates with Diego Goris for infielder Yamaico Navarro. Incidentally, Volz, who was a part of last year’s NWA no-hitter, was the other player sent over with Navarro from the Red Sox for Mike Aviles before the trade deadline in 2011. Alas, Navarro has no connection to either of Will Smith or Kelvin Herrera.
But back to Pounders.
The big righty has a 4.02 ERA in 69.1 innings this year, with most of those coming in starts. Overall, he has good strikeout numbers and okay control. He’s primarily a fly ball pitcher, but he’s had more success at home (2.87 ERA) in Springdale than on the road (5.13 ERA). Pounders is just 22 years old and could be an average starter or reliever for a minor league team. He’s doing fine in Double A and should probably see Triple A next season to fill a role if nothing else.
If he keeps throwing games like Thursday’s though, he might find himself being a more prominent name on the pitching prospect lists. As it stands now, he’s a perfectly fine option for a minor league staff. And tonight, he was nearly perfect.