Below-the-belt: D-backs’ Slade Cecconi picks up odd 1st MLB strikeout

Aug 2, 2023, 8:23 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2023, 7:28 am

Slade Cecconi...

Slade Cecconi #43 of the Arizona Diamondbacks, making his major league debut, pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at Oracle Park on August 02, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Slade Cecconi started his MLB debut with a strikeout on Wednesday, although not initially.

San Francisco Giants lead-off man LaMonte Wade Jr. was initially awarded first base on a hit-by-pitch near his hands, but the D-backs challenged the call and succeeded.

The fastball nicked off the head of Wade’s bat and into the lap of catcher Jose Herrera, just below the belt, which caused some visible discomfort. The ball never hit the ground as Herrera secured it with his hand.

By rule, “If a foul tip first strikes any part of the catcher’s body or paraphernalia and is caught by hand or glove against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out.”

Cecconi did not take long for a more orthodox punch out, throwing a 96 mph heater past Wilmer Flores two batters later.

The righty was selected ahead of first pitch from Triple-A Reno to start and his final line was 4.2 innings, two runs, four hits, one walk and two strikeouts on 59 pitches.

He retired nine batters in a row over a stretch before Flores doubled in the fourth inning. Cecconi did not allow a run through four frames, but the Giants broke through with two runs in the fifth inning.

His last batter, Luis Matos, grounded into a double play. Manager Torey Lovullo took him out after he faced the lineup twice, while the score was tied 2-2.

The 24-year-old leaned on his fastball at 61% while mixing in changeups, sliders and curveballs.

Cecconi was drafted in 2020 and spent this season in Reno ahead of Wednesday. He is the No. 7 prospect in Arizona’s farm system ranked by FanGraphs.

Reliever Tyler Gilbert allowed two runs in the sixth, and Arizona’s offense went cold for a 4-2 loss.

Brandon Pfaadt, who was in the 2020 draft class with Cecconi, will start for the D-backs in the series finale on Thursday.

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Below-the-belt: D-backs’ Slade Cecconi picks up odd 1st MLB strikeout