ROUND ROCK -- Martin Perez, winless in his last six starts, delivered his best performance of the year Friday.
Heading into his most recent start, Perez, 21, was 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA in his last six outings with Triple-A Round Rock, which lost each of those games. But the southpaw rebounded Friday against Oklahoma City, the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, tossing seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory. Perez allowed only one hit, struck out five and walked five while throwing 61 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
"I think the problem I've had in the last month is my mind. I was thinking too my much," said Perez, ranked second among the Rangers' top prospects
. "Before the last start, I changed my routine before the game. I threw more in the bullpen and long-tossed for about 10 minutes. I threw my fastball in. When I have good command in, I can go to both sides with my off-speed pitches. That's what I'm going to try to do from now on."
Perez was one of a few pitchers that the Rangers likely considered to fill the spots in their rotation left vacant by injuries to Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando. Justin Grimm eventually got called up from Double-A Frisco and earned a win in his Major League debut in Saturday's 8-3 win over the Astros.
Perez proved Friday why he's regarded as one of baseball's top Minor League players. He lowered his ERA from 5.40 to 4.90 and has posted a 4-5 record this year, striking out 45 and walking 36 in 14 starts.
-- Christian Corona