Through two June starts, Astros’ prospect J.P. France has punched out a combined 16 batters over 11.2 innings, while only allowing four earned runs in that span.
Entering Sunday, J.P. France ranked fourth in the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts per nine innings in a minimum of 40 innings pitched (11.2). The Houston Astros‘ prospect trailed one pitcher on the Sugar Land Space Cowboys for the team lead — Hunter Brown who sat at 12.27 prior to Sunday’s contest.
Both hurlers took the stage Sunday with France picking up his second start of June. Last time out, the right-hander left one out short of a quality start while striking out eight over 5.2 innings pitched.
Through three perfect innings Sunday, France was already waving bats. The 27-year-old fanned five batters, generating nine swing and misses his first time through Las Vegas’ order. After an extended bottom of the third, France returned with a five-run lead, facing the top of the Aviators’ order.
Earning his only run in the fourth, France picked up three more strikeouts and five more whiffs before getting the hook after the sixth inning. The righty improved his ERA to a 5.11, after starting the month at 5.73.
France’s eight strikeouts Sunday total 63 on the season which is good for fourth-best in the Pacific Coast League and second-best on the Space Cowboys.
For Brown, the Astros’ No. 1 prospect last pitched Tuesday, while three innings were tasked to him Sunday in a piggyback appearance. With the bullpen draining Friday and Saturday, the two starters ate nine innings, resting relievers with an off day following Monday.
Brown fanned four hitters in his fourth relief appearance of the season. While allowing one hit, the 23-year-old also yielded three walks, finding himself with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning. Although not allowing a run, Brown still threw 60 pitches over three innings — roughly 58% of them being strikes.
Pitch efficiency has held Brown from pushing six innings regularly this season. With eight starts to his name, the right-hander has pitched more than five innings in only two of those outings.
The righty still excelled with his four-seam fastball, topping out at 99.6 mph. Through 52 innings this season, Brown continues to neighbor 100 mph as Shawn Dubin remains the only Space Cowboy to eclipse the mark this season.