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Lester had blinding stuff in Minors, too

Lewis, Ortmeier recall Lester

DENVER -- When Boston's Jon Lester no-hit Kansas City on Monday, two of the least surprised observers were Daniel Ortmeier and Fred Lewis of the Giants.

Ortmeier and Lewis faced Lester on multiple occasions in 2005, when the duo played for Norwich in the Double-A Eastern League. Lester, a member of the Portland Sea Dogs, frequently displayed unhittable stuff even then.

The league teemed with promising pitchers that summer. A partial list: Fausto Carmona, Joel Zumaya, Tom Gorzelanny, Kason Gabbard, Paul Maholm and Lester's teammate Jonathan Papelbon. But, Ortmeier said, "Lester stood out. He knew what he was doing. At that time, you faced a lot of guys who had good arms, but they were just kind of throwing."

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Said Lewis, "We couldn't catch up with his fastball. We couldn't catch up with any of his stuff."

Ortmeier met Lester when they were Eastern League All-Stars together and gained a stronger sense that the left-hander was a budding star.

"You looked at him and he had that presence -- kind of like [Matt] Cain when he was younger," Ortmeier said. "You just knew. You could see the way he carried himself that he had it. And obviously still does."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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