Pipeline: Romero flirts with no-hitter

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Faria struck out the side three times en route to his second double-digit strikeout performance in his past three starts, and he’s now accomplished the feat five times since the start of the 2015 season.

Faria stranded a runner on second base in each of the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth, when former Durham teammate Richie Shaffer connected on a three-run homer with one out to give Columbus the lead and chase Faria from the game.

Overall, Faria is 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA in seven starts this season, and he leads all International League hurlers with 58 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings (14.4 K/9) after Wednesday’s performance.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Wednesday

No. 32 overall prospect Blake Rutherford (Yankees’ No. 3) tripled in his first two at-bats before finishing 4-for-5 in Class A Charleston’s win over Hickory. It was the third career four-hit game for the 20-year-old outfielder, who also scored a pair of runs and tallied three RBIs. 

• Only a bee sting could keep No. 41 overall prospect Mitch Keller (Pirates’ No. 2) from picking up his fourth win for Class A Advanced Bradenton. The 21-year-old carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning before permitting a two-out knock and then loading the bases on a hit-by-pitch and a walk. Keller would depart the game before the next batter, after being stung on his arm. He struck out four and walked two in 4 2/3 scoreless innings, and he’s now posted 18 1/3 straight scoreless frames over his past three starts.

“It definitely surprised me and stung pretty good,” Keller told MiLB.com. “I don’t ever remember being stung before in my life.”

• No. 56 overall prospect Sean Reid-Foley (Blue Jays’ No. 2) tossed five innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits, in his best start of the season for Double-A New Hampshire. The 2014 second-rounder recorded a season-high seven strikeouts in the outing, which also marked the first time in seven turns where Reid-Foley did not issue a walk.

• No. 92 overall prospect Ronald Acuna (Braves’ No. 7) made headlines on Tuesday by homering in his first at-bat and going 3-for-4 with three RBIs for Double-A Mississippi. The 19-year-old outfielder, the youngest player in the Southern League, did it all over again on Wednesday, homering in his first at-bat and collecting three hits for a second straight game. Acuna was promoted to Mississippi after he batted .287/.336/.478 with 11 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 28 games for Class A Advanced Florida.

• Make it 20 straight games with a hit for Jake Gatewood. The Brewers’ No. 25 prospect extended his streak by going 1-for-3 in both games of Class A Advanced Carolina’s doubleheader sweep of Lynchburg. The 21-year-old finally appears to translating his talent into production this season, as he’s now hitting .328/.420/.546 with 16 extra-base hits — and more walks (19) than he accumulated last season (18) in 126 games — through 33 games.

Cardinals’ No. 24 prospect Zac Gallen’s impressive first full season continued on Wednesday as he paced Class A Advanced Palm Beach in a shutout of Fort Myers. The 21-year-old righty worked six scoreless innings, scattering five hits and matching his career high with nine strikeouts while throwing 63 of his 86 pitches for strikes. A third-round pick last June out of North Carolina, Gallen has been a standout in the Cardinals’ system this season, posting a 1.80 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and a 45-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 innings (six starts).

Marlins’ No. 10 prospect James Nelson stayed red hot by going 3-for-5 with his second home run, a two-run shot, and three runs scored for Class A Greensboro. It was the 19-year-old third baseman’s seventh multi-hit performance in the past 10 games, during which he’s batting .425 with 17 hits.

Phillies’ No. 9 prospect Dylan Cozens walked it off for Triple-A Lehigh Valley with a booming home run to right field in the bottom of the 11th inning. The homer was Cozens’ sixth and capped a 3-for-5 night at the plate, though the hulking 22-year-old outfielder is hitting just .196 for the season.

• Phillies No. 26 prospect JoJo Romero established a pair of career highs as he struck out eight batters in eight scoreless innings in a stellar outing for Class A Lakewood. The left-hander yielded one hit — a one-out double in the bottom of the second — and induced groundballs for 12 of his 24 outs, ultimately throwing 93 pitches (58 strikes). Romero owns a 1.26 ERA over his last 28 2/3 frames (five starts) after he was tagged for four runs in four innings in his season debut.

• Pirates No. 26 prospect Tyler Eppler tossed seven innings of four-hit ball with a career-best eight strikeouts to lead Triple-A Indianapolis past Charlotte, 1-0. He’s 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in six starts, each of which he’s completed at least five innings.

Reds’ No. 6 prospect Luis Castillo‘s ERA sits at 3.00 after he allowed five hits over seven innings of one-run ball in a no-decision for Double-A Pensacola. The hard-throwing 24-year-old righty punched out a career-high 10 batters without issuing a walk, giving him a 36-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings (seven starts) this season.

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.

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