When Adam Morgan made the move to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start the season, he knew consistency would be key to finding success at the Minor Leagues' highest level.
"I honestly don't feel like I'm all that closer to the Majors," he said. "I can't really explain it, but it's the way it is."
That sentiment could change after a few more starts like the one he had on Saturday afternoon.
The Phillies' No. 7 prospect scattered three hits and a walk and struck out five over eight innings to as the IronPigs blanked the Syracuse Chiefs, 6-0, at NBT Bank Stadium.
It was Morgan's first Triple-A win in his second International League start.
Morgan (1-0), who went 1-for-3 with an RBI at the plate, did not allow more than one Chief to reach base in an inning and appeared to be even more dominant as the game went on, retiring eight in a row to conclude his outing after 97 pitches, 65 for strikes.
To get those results, though, he needed his normally reliable fastball to remain consistent.
"I didn't really think I had the other pitches at all," Morgan said. "I think I only threw about 12 to 15 off-speed pitches in the entire game. It was just one of those games where it was cold and rainy, and I had a difficult time controlling my off-speed stuff. But, thankfully, I was able to work the fastball to both sides of the plate."
Control was perhaps the biggest key to Morgan's successful 2012 season -- his first full campaign after being selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2011 Draft out of the University of Alabama.
The 23-year-old left-hander ranked third in the Minors with 169 strikeouts while walking only 39 batters over 158 2/3 innings between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading for a combined strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.33. (By comparison, Cy Young winners R.A. Dickey and David Price posted K/BB ratios of 4.26 and 3.47, respectively.)
Through two IL starts, that statistic has returned to 4.50. He also has allowed two earned runs on nine hits in 14 innings. While other pitchers falter in their introduction to Triple-A, Morgan believes he can use his opponents' experience to his advantage.
"The best part so far has been the immediate feedback you get," he said. "If you make a mistake, these hitters are going to let you know pretty quickly. So if you study that a bit, you'll find the hitters' holes in their bat.
"In [Class A] and Double-A, you can get away with those mistakes and not learn anything from it. Tonight, I knew I could keep going right after guys with the fastball and get in on them. If I was throwing the soft stuff away, they were capitalizing on it, so I knew to stick with the fastball."
Although that strategy might change before he takes the hill again for the IronPigs, Morgan will keep everything else consistent -- the same way he's done since becoming a pro in 2011.
"I have my daily routine -- stretching, long toss, that stuff -- and the most important thing I can do is not stray from that," he said. "It's gotten me this far."
Josh Fields doubled and drove in two runs in support of Morgan, while batterymate Tommy Joseph delivered an RBI single.