He faced six teammates. All six struck out. Not one of them even fouled off a pitch.
"It was a man pitching to children that day," said Jeff Livin, his coach at the time.
At age 20, Buchholz was no more than a major league wannabee. But even then, Livin knew he had something special on his hands.
"Hands down, it was the most awe-inspiring thing I've ever seen," said Livin, who is now in his 13th season at Angelina, a junior college in southeast Texas. "Guys were speechless."
Today at 1 p.m., more than two years after that sublime outing, the 2005 first-round pick will make his first major league start when the Red Sox host the Angels in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
"If he throws that good (today)," Livin said, "he may not give up a hit."
In 22 total minor league appearances this season, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander is 8-3 with a 2.15 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 117 combined innings at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. In 301/3 innings with the PawSox, he is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA and 48 Ks.
After watching the Lumberton, Texas, native put up big numbers for the Roadrunners (12-1, 1.50 ERA, 129 Ks) in 2005, Livin is hardly surprised by the 23-year-old's recent success.
"It was painfully obvious that he was a little bit different than other guys," Livin said. "You don't see those kind of tools very often."
The same week he mowed down his Angelina teammates, Buchholz put his stuff on display against Alvin Community College. A Kansas City Royals scout was the lone MLB representative on hand.
"Clay hit 96 today," the scout told Livin. "Don't tell anybody."
Miffed, Livin replied: "Hell, I'm not going to quote your radar gun readings to anybody."
Soon word got out. Buchholz could be a star.
"As far as guys I've coached," Livin said. "he's head and shoulders above everybody else. It didn't really matter who he pitched against. He can do things at will."
Buchholz did experience a few bumps in the road, though.
In 2004, during his only year at Division 1 McNeese State in Lake Charles, La., he and a classmate were arrested for stealing 29 laptop computers from Lumberton (Texas) Intermediate School.
"That was a mistake," Buchholz said in 2005. "I was hanging out with the wrong person. But I think it helped me out in the long run."
In the end, the incident didn't scare away the Red Sox, who selected him with the 42nd overall pick in the 2005 draft. Buchholz, who Baseball America ranks as the top pitching prospect in the Boston organization, boasts an exceptional fastball, changeup and curveball.
He is expected to make a single start before being sent down to Pawtucket again.
"I don't know how long his little shot will last," Livin said. "I'm going to do everything I can to watch it or listen to it."
Buchholz will make his debut against the first-place Angels, who took two of three games from Boston Aug. 6-8.
Livin described Buchholz as a level-headed, confident kid who is built to withstand the kind of pressure he'll face today. Fame, he predicts, won't go to the hurler's head.
"I'm like a proud papa sitting here," Livin said. "I'm probably more proud than his dad."
Alan Siegel is a sportswriter for Eagle-Tribune Publishing. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today at a glance
1:05 p.m. Clay Buchholz vs. Ervin Santana (5-11, 6.22 ERA)
7:05 p.m. Josh Beckett (15-5, 3.24) vs. John Lackey (15-7, 3.07 ERA)
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to be called up for the night game. To make room for both Buchholz and Ellsbury, outfielder Wily Mo Pena will reportedly be traded or designated for assignment.
Buchholz by the numbers in 2007
*With Portland and Pawtucket