Down on the Farm: Ray Black and his 100-mph heater are back

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Ray Black nearly retired before this season. Ray Black was designated for assignment to help make room for names like Aaron Hill, Chris Marrero and Neil Ramirez just last year. Ray Black can also throw a fastball 104 mph. 

With injuries and anybody's guess where the ball is going, Black's career hasn't paved a fast path to the big leagues for someone with a rocket right arm. But now at 27 years old -- he'll be 28 in June -- Black is back and maybe better than ever. 

Take a look at how Black was blowing up the radar gun for the River Cats Thursday night in Sacramento.

Black faced four batters Thursday night. All four outs came from strikeouts and only one batter reached base as the lone hit he allowed.

After only pitching 2.1 innings last season due to elbow surgery, Black began the season in Double-A Richmond this year. His start to the season was nothing short of dominant.

Before being promoted to Triple-A, Black appeared in 10 games for the Flying Squirrels. Over 10 innings, he allowed just two hits and one earned run. Batters had no chance in Double-A against Black as he finished with 20 strikeouts, and what was even more encouraging, he only walked four.

Once he arrived in Sacrameto, things didn't start as smooth out of the bullpen. Black's first  two appearances don't look great in the box score as he allowed five earned runs over 2.1 innings and three walks. But, all five of those runs came off two home runs and he still struck out five. 

Since Black's first two bullpen appearances for the River Cats, he's been nearly unhittable. Including Thursday night, Black has allowed only one hit in 4.1 innings with no runs, one walk and nine strikeouts. 

Healthy and back on the mound, Black has 34 strikeouts to eight walks in 16.2 innings between two levels this season. It has been a long road, but the Giants could have quite the treasure at the end of this map. 

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