Aaron Blair entered the season already knocking on the door of the Major Leagues, but after his gem for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, when he fired seven no-hit innings in a win over Durham, he's on the verge of knocking it down.
Making his third start of the year for Gwinnett, Blair, acquired from the Diamondbacks along with Dansby Swanson in the offseason Shelby Miller trade, recorded 10 strikeouts against one walk, throwing 59 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
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"The ball was coming out of my hand good in pregame. It wasn't the best pregame bullpen I've ever had, but I was just working on some things, going out and being able to throw strikes," Blair told MiLB.com. "It was good being able to have three pitches that I could throw at any time for a strike, locating in and out, keeping the ball down in the zone."
Blair, the Braves' No. 4 prospect (No. 54 overall), achieved double-digit strikeouts for the first time since June 2014, when he was pitching for Class A Advanced Visalia in the California League as a member of the Diamondbacks, and all 10 of them were of the swinging variety. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out the side in the third en route to generating 19 swings and misses, not to mention eight ground-ball outs.
Gwinnett's defense turned in a pair of highlight-reel plays in the seventh to preserve Blair's no-hit effort, as second baseman Sean Kazmar and left fielder Ronnier Mustelier both robbed Durham of potential hits with diving plays. Braves reliever Madison Younginer, in relief of Blair, recorded a pair outs in the eighth to keep the combined no-hitter intact before he surrendered a double to Patrick Leonard and, ultimately, two runs.
Blair improved to 3-0 with his dominant performance and, after allowing three runs in his season debut, he's thrown 13 scoreless innings between his last two starts. On the season, he's pitched to 1.42 ERA with a 22/5 K/BB ratio in 19 innings.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.