"I was just very excited to go out on the mound for the San Jose Giants and was ready to keep them in the game by pounding the zone and attacking hitters," Bickford told MiLB.com after the game. "It was awesome coming back to California and it was great timing with the nice weather out here, and the fan support was great. I love the energy at this place."
Bickford was dominant from the outset of the game as he struck out eight of the first nine hitters he faced over three prefect innings. He ran into some trouble in the following frame, when he allowed the pair of runs and hits, but ultimately finished strong by retiring the side in order in each of his final two innings.
"It was a great feeling to be in a groove, especially because I was putting up zeros to help the team get a win," Bickford said. "I was just throwing what [Giants catcher] Ty Ross called and was able to hit my spots, and it all worked out. I felt like my fastball was coming out nice today and my secondaries were working as well."
With his 13 strikeouts on Sunday -- 12 of which were of the swing-and-miss variety -- Bickford, whom the Giants selected in the first round of the 2015 Draft, has now fanned 82 hitters in 66 innings (12 starts) this season. The 20-year-old righty also owns a 2.73 ERA and an even 1.00 WHIP, and he's allowed just three home runs while holding opposing hitters to a .211 average.
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday
• No. 5 overall prospect Yoan Moncada hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth inning to lead Class A Advanced Salem past Wiston-Salem, 2-1. It was the Red Sox's No. 1 prospect's fourth home run of the season and his first since May 7. He also doubled in the game, giving him exactly two hits in five of his past seven contests. Following the game, it was announced Moncada was rewarded for his efforts with a promotion to Double-A.
• No. 16 overall prospect Austin Meadows extended his hitting streak to 26 games with his first Triple-A home run in Indianapolis' win over Charlotte. The Pirates' No. 2 prospect hit a two-run shot, his seventh of the season, in the first inning, en route to finishing the game 1-for-5 at the plate. For the season, Meadows, 21, is hitting .318/.369/.631 with 32 extra-base hits (56 total hits) through 47 games between the Double- and Triple-A levels.
• A day after going 4-for-6 with three doubles in a doubleheader for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, No. 68 overall prospect Ian Happ hit a two-run home run and another double as he went 3-for-4 in the Pelicans' 11-inning loss versus Potomac. The Cubs' No. 3 prospect has gone 9-for-14 at the plate over his last four contests to lift his season line to .296/.410/.475 through 69 games, during which 26 of his 71 hits have gone for extra-bases.
• Nationals No. 5 prospect Reynaldo Lopez was dominant in Double-A Harrisburg's win over Reading as he matched his career high with 13 strikeouts in seven innings for the second time in three starts. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed one earned run on five hits in the outing, which he concluded by striking out five of the last six batters he faced. The 22-year-old righty has fanned at least 12 in three of his past five starts for the Senators, notching 90 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings on the season.
• Braves No. 6 prospect Touki Toussaint turned in another strong performance but ultimately received a no-decision after Class A Rome's bullpen blew a late-inning lead against Greensboro. The 20-year-old allowed an unearned run on five hits in six innings, striking out six and walking one. After getting off to a shaky start to begin his season, Toussaint has given up just one earned run in 20 innings across his past three starts.
• Junior Fernandez fired six scoreless innings of three-hit ball in Class A Peoria's win over Burlington. The Cardinals' No. 15 prospect recorded two walks and four strikeouts and also generated seven ground-ball outs. It was the third scoreless outing of the season for the 19-year-old righty, who's posted a 2.97 ERA through 66 2/3 innings (13 starts) to begin his first full pro campaign.
• Indians No. 19 prospect Luke Wakamatsu went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored out of the three-hole for Class A Short Season Mahoning Valley in its rout of Auburn. A 20th-round Draft pick in 2015, Wakamatsu -- whom the Indians signed away from a commitment to Rice with a $290,000 bonus -- has gone 6-for-14 with three doubles in three games to begin his season.
• Make it three straight games with a home run for Jose Pujols. After hitting a grand slam on Saturday, the Phillies' No. 24 prospect connected on a three-run shot in the fifth inning on Sunday to help Class A Lakewood defeat Kannapolis. Thanks to his barrage of long balls over the weekend, Pujols now owns the outright lead in the South Atlantic League with his 13 home runs.
• Blue Jays No. 26 prospect Andy Burns had a productive day at the plate for Triple-A Buffalo as he tallied three hits in four at-bats and scored a pair of runs in a win against Lehigh Valley. One of those hits was his third home run, and he also tallied his 17th double in the contest.
• In Double-A Mississippi's victory versus Jackson, Braves No. 26 prospect Rob Whalen gave up one run (unearned) on two hits in seven innings while matching his season high with eight strikeouts. The 22-year-old righty has gone 25 innings without allowing an earned run, and he's given up just two earned runs over his last 39 frames (six starts) for the M-Braves.