After a couple of so-so outings, Aaron Poreda flashed the form that has made him the Chicago White Sox's top pitching prospect. And then some.
The 2007 first-round pick struck out a career-high 11 over seven scoreless innings Thursday en route to his first win of the season as the Birmingham Barons topped the Jacksonville Suns, 4-1.
"I'm going remember this night for a while," Poreda said. "I was just raring back and letting it go. I was filing up the zone, and they were swinging and missing or taking it for strike three."
Poreda (1-2) outdueled fellow first-rounder Aaron Thompson (1-1) by yielding four hits and a walk in his best outing since striking out 10 against Montgomery last Aug. 8. The 22-year-old left-hander fanned at least two batters in four of the first five frames and fired 63 of 96 pitches for strikes.
After yielding four runs on six hits and eight walks with six strikeouts over nine innings in losing his first two appearances, Poreda was sharp from the start Thursday in front of 7,870 fans at Regions Park.
"My first two outings didn't go as well as planned," he admitted. "But I felt great tonight. I had command of my fastball and was throwing strikes, and had better command of my slider. I'm a contact, ground-ball pitcher, but if they're not going to hit the ball, those grounders turn into strikeouts."
The San Francisco native struck out the first two batters he faced and overcame a throwing error and a passed ball later in the frame by getting Lee Mitchell to ground out to shortstop. He again fanned the first two batters in the second before surrendering a single to Tim Torres, but got Brad Davis to ground out to third.
Poreda cruised through the next three innings before yielding a two-out triple to Lee Mitchell in the sixth. He responded by getting Kevin Randel to fly out to center field before running into his biggest trouble of the night in the seventh.
Andrew Jenkins and Torres opened the frame with back-to-back singles off the 6-foot-6 southpaw, prompting a visit to the mound by pitching coach J.R. Perdew.
Poreda didn't waste any time clicking back into a groove. He got Davis to fly out to center, induced Chris De La Cruz into a groundout and walked Lorenzo Scott before striking out Ryan Klosterman to cap his brilliant effort.
"My conditioning and workout program helped me late in the game," Poreda said. "I didn't have much left, but I went to the seventh inning and gave it all I got and finally got rewarded for my hard work."
The win was Poreda's first since his final appearance of last season with Birmingham on Aug. 29, when he allowed one run on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts against Mobile.
Poreda pitched at two levels last season, going 5-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 12 starts at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem before posting a 3-4 mark with a 2.98 ERA in 15 outings for the Barons.
He credits his comfort level on the mound, mixed with his desire to live up to his billing as one of Chicago's top prospects, for his poise in the face of pressure.
"I feel real relaxed," Poreda said. "I'm enjoying where I'm at. When I was in Double-A last year, I really felt pressure."
As for taking his game to the next level, Poreda thinks if he stays on course those issues will be resolved on their own.
"Right now I'm really just focusing on pitching and having a lot of success at Double-A," he said. "When they call me, I'll be ready."
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.