ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb certainly lived up to the hype Saturday afternoon. The left-handed prospect gave the Braves even more reason to give him additional opportunities in their starting rotation.Seemingly unfazed by the nerves that accompany any Major League debut and determined to prove he's ready to distance himself from
ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb certainly lived up to the hype Saturday afternoon. The left-handed prospect gave the Braves even more reason to give him additional opportunities in their starting rotation.
Seemingly unfazed by the nerves that accompany any Major League debut and determined to prove he's ready to distance himself from command issues, Newcomb showed why he's rated the Braves' fifth-best prospect and 69th overall as he efficiently pitched into the seventh inning of Saturday afternoon's 6-1 loss to the Mets at SunTrust Park.
"It was a lot of fun to watch," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He was on the attack and threw a lot of strikes. That might have been his best outing as a pro. He might have been in the wrong league."
Promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the rotation void created when Bartolo Colon was placed on the disabled list this week, Newcomb scattered four hits, recorded seven strikeouts and issued just one unintentional walk over 6 1/3 innings blemished only by a self-inflicted unearned run. The 23-year-old southpaw recorded 70 strikes within his 96-pitch effort and created reason to wonder if this was indeed the same guy who had 5.2 walks per nine innings against International League opponents this year.
"He has good life on his fastball and the curveball he has the ability to throw for strikes and [as a chase pitch] late," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "That's important to be able to throw it for strikes, so that they have to honor and respect it. Then you can get them to expand below the zone off of that. He did a good job throwing up in the zone too, which makes the curveball even more effective."
With his proud and emotional mother among the 40 friends and family members in attendance, Newcomb opened his career by getting Juan Lagares to look at a knee-buckling curveball for a called third strike. Moments later, Michael Conforto was set down looking at what has become a much-improved slider.
Newcomb, who ranks as MLBPipeline.com's eighth-best left-handed pitching prospect, ended five of his seven strikeouts with breaking balls. He recorded eight swinging strikes and 11 called strikes with a fastball that touched 96.2 mph and averaged 93.
"I was able to throw in the zone and below the zone too," Newcomb said. "The shape [of the breaking ball] has always been pretty consistent. I was able to control it a little better today."
Newcomb has certainly earned the opportunity to start again on Friday, which incidently would be the first day Colon could return from a strained left oblique.
Snitker was not ready to commit to Newcomb making an additional start. But given what he showed and what Colon has done while producing a Major League-worst 7.78 ERA, it doesn't seem like a tough decision -- as long as you ignore the $12.5 million committed to Colon before the season.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.