The season just started but Taylor Clarke’s arm was in postseason form during the Reno Aces 8-4 victory against the Fresno Grizzlies on cold and wet Friday night at Greater Nevada Field.
Tabbed by MLB.com as the prospect most likely to make an impact this year with Aces’ parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Clarke threw three-hit ball in five innings, striking out nine with just one walk. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was a third-round selection in the 2015 MLB draft.
“I felt great out there,” Clarke said. “Any time you can go out there on the mound and give the team a chance to win is an awesome feeling. I’m just hoping to carry that positive momentum into the next start and not get too ahead of myself.”
The Aces have scored 18 runs in their first two games.
“I was really surprised taking a look at the roster during spring training,” he said. “Having those guys back there or behind the mound gives me some added confidence every outing knowing they have my back.”
The Aces fearsome duo of Christian Walker and Yasmany Tomas each had an RBI in the win.
Fresno third baseman Jack Mayfield’s throwing error in the fifth inning was costly. Jack Reinheimer jumped on a 3-2 fastball to score Daniel Robertson. Socrates Brito added to the Reno lead, [pullquote]Having those guys back there or behind the mound gives me some added confidence every outing knowing they have my back.”[/pullquote]smacking a two-RBI triple in the center-field gap, giving the Aces a commanding 4-0 lead after just three innings.
Reinheimer, a 2016 Pacific Coast League All-Star, padded his stuffed season stat-sheet in the fifth inning when he launched a high, two-seam fastball 380 feet to left field for his first big-fly of the year. In two games, he has four hits, including a triple and homer, scored four runs and three RBI.
Grizzlies flame-throwing righty Trent Thornton lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing three hits, and four runs, zero earned. Reliever Buddy Boshers who stopped the bleeding with a Tomas groundout to end the third inning.
Clarke’s four-seam fastball was cooking on the mound, clocking in at 95 mph. The College of Charleston graduate recorded back-to-back whiffs in the fifth inning.
MLB.com’s No. 16 prospect, Kyle Tucker displayed supreme power at the plate, connecting on a shattering two-run blast, 448 feet to deep center field. The home run sparked power shots of 438 feet from Tyler White and 427 feet from Mayfield, which cut the Aces lead to 5-4.
Reno tacked on three runs in the sixth and eighth innings, including a soaring RBI triple over the head of Tucker from designated hitter Marcus Littlewood. Closer Jimmie Sherfy, the Aces’ all-time leader with 32 saves, put the Grizzlies to rest in the ninth inning.
For Fresno, key performers included: Tucker (2-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), White (2-4, 2B, HR, 1 RBI), and Mayfield (1-4, HR, 1 RBI).
In the third game of the five-game series, right-hander Kris Medlen of the undefeated Aces will square off on the mound against Francis Martes of Fresno. Game time is slated for 4:05 p.m. with cold and damp weather conditions again expected.