Clinton Hollon is starting to show glimpses of why the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him out of Woodford County with the 47th overall pick in 2013.
The 20-year-old right-handed pitcher retired 19 batters in a row during his debut for the Class A Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts on Wednesday night.
"It was a pretty darn good first impression," Lugnuts pitching coach Jeff Ware told MILB.com. "I've seen him in instructional leagues, but as far as this year goes, coming off of surgery and he pitched in the Northwest League a little, he shook off his nerves early and settled down."
Hollon, who signed with the University of Kentucky before deciding to sign a pro contract out of high school, missed last season while recovering from elbow surgery. He was 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in nine starts for Class A Short Season Vancouver before being promoted to Lansing.
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On Wednesday night, Hollon allowed a single and a pair of walks in the first inning before getting down to business, retiring the next 19 hitters in a row before leaving in the seventh inning.
Hollon, who was credited with the victory in Lansing's 2-1 win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, allowed one hit, walked two and struck out two in seven innings pitched.
"Overall, it was great," Hollon told MILB.com. "I didn't have the fastball command I usually have and that I wanted to have, and I fell behind a lot of guys, but I made some good pitches to get some outs."
The first inning was an adventure for Hollon before he eventually settled in. Alan Sharkey led off with a single up the middle for Wisconsin. Hollon then picked him off first base.
Hollon walked Blake Allemand and Elvis Rubio before getting out of the inning.
"He ended up with only 22 pitches in the first inning ... but he was walking a tightrope there," Ware told MILB.com about the Blue Jays' second-round draft pick. "He was being more aggressive and pitching to contact. If you can do that at the lower levels, you're going to have success."
Hollon said "there were some nerves" initially but that he never felt comfortable and battled all night, even as he was mowing down hitters.
"He occasionally fell behind in the count, but he was able to keep the ball down and get out of it. He got 10 ground-ball outs; that's pretty good, especially considering that he was falling behind," Ware said.
Hollon said that his wife and 10-month-old son will visit him from Kentucky on Friday.
"It was a great experience out there," Hollon said, "but I try to separate it — being a different guy on and off the field and not taking business home because not every night is going to go like tonight. There are going to be struggles, and you can't take that home to your family.
"I work hard and I'm trying to make it to the big leagues because that's been my dream I've had my whole life, but my son doesn't know that yet and my family would love me if I was bagging groceries or making $200 million pitching in the majors. I can be a great father either way. I'm going to take care of my son either way."