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April 9, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Celestino strong in Sunday's loss

Miguel Celestino
FREDERICK, Md. – On the season’s third day, right-hander Miguel Celestino gave High A Salem its first strong start of the season in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Frederick Keys.

“I really liked what I saw from Miguel,” pitching coach Kevin Walker said after the game. “This was actually the first time I’ve really seen him pitch, and I was very impressed with the poise he showed, the maturity. I liked the way he used his pitches.”

Celestino, 22, gave up two runs on six hits, with a pair of strikeouts and no walks in five innings of work. 41 of his 56 pitches were strikes, including first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 18 batters he faced.

The afternoon got off to an inauspicious start for Salem when Frederick center fielder Trent Mummey led off the bottom of the first by swatting a fastball to the gap in right-center. His counterpart, Jackie Bradley, Jr., tracked the ball and launched himself to make the catch, but the ball glanced off his glove just before he clattered into the wall.

Bradley laid flat on the ground for a moment and was visited by the trainer, but for both he and Celestino, the discomfort hardly lasted.

Celestino picked up his first strikeout of the game on the next batter as left fielder Jeremy Nowak fanned on an 83 mph changeup. The game’s first run was plated a batter later when right fielder Ronnie Welty singled to score Mummey. Welty tried to take second base on the throw home from Brandon Jacobs, but catcher Christian Vazquez gunned him down at second. Celestino induced a popup on his next pitch for the inning’s final out, and cruised for the next several frames.

He induced three groundball outs in a nine-pitch second inning, a frame in which he introduced his slider into the mix. Frederick went down in order in the third inning as well, and after a leadoff single in the fourth, Celestino erased the runner with a 4-6-3 double play.

Keys’ designated hitter Kipp Schutz was called out looking at a 78 mph slider to begin the fifth inning before Celestino got into a jam. Third baseman Ty Kelly began a stretch of three straight singles to right field, and scored two batter later to give Frederick a 2-0 lead. But on his 56th and final pitch of the evening, Celestino induced a 5-3 double play to get out of trouble.

“Even when he gave up a few hits in the fifth inning, that never really got to him,” Walker said. “He continued to work and make pitches, and overall it was a really good start. I just really liked the way he came and attacked hitters. He came at them early and really forced contact.”

Celestino’s fastball sat at 92 mph for most of the start, and crept up to 94 mph consistently in the fourth and fifth innings. He kept hitters off balance with his low-80s changeup, which produced a handful of swinging strikes and weak contact from Frederick hitters. Celestino also mix in a mid-80s two-seam fastball, and spotted his looping slider outside to left-handed hitters and inside to righties.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander from the Dominican Republic was acquired by Boston as the player to be named later in the deal that fetched Bill Hall and sent Casey Kotchman to Seattle in 2010. He split time that season between the Gulf Coast League and Short-Season Lowell, and posted a combined ERA of 2.09 ERA between the two levels.

Last year in Greenville, Celestino went 10-6 with a 3.84 ERA in 27 starts. He issued 33 walks in 140.7 innings and struck out 106 batters.

Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.