Martin Perez, winless in his last six starts for Triple-A Round Rock, delivered his best performance of the year on Friday.
Heading into his most recent start, Perez, 21, was 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA in his last six outings, as Round Rock 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," Perez said. "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 offspeed 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 spot 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.
"I'm happy for him because he's my friend," Perez said. "When you're not doing good and other people are doing good, you can't think anything bad about them. I saw him the other night, he was throwing really good. I just want to come in here and work hard every day. That's my mindset."
The Rangers' second-best prospect, according to MLB.com, 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 Friday and has posted a 4-5 record this year, striking out 45 and walking 36 in 14 starts.
"In this game nothing is easy," Perez said. "Sometimes I try to throw the perfect pitch. And you can't throw the perfect pitch. That's what I was thinking my last start."