Being a Louisiana man, Colin Rodgers isn't exactly used to the cold spring nights in Lexington, Ky. So when he took the mound amid 44-degree temperatures at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, he pretty much had only one goal in mind.
"I was just trying to work really quickly," the Royals prospect said. "I wanted to get through each inning as quick as I could so that the guys and I could get back in the dugout as soon as possible. … I'm from the South. I don't really like the cold."
The strategy worked wonders Friday night.
The 19-year-old left-hander allowed two hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings to lead the Class A Lexington Legends to an 8-0 home win over the Greenville Drive that took just over two hours to complete.
Rodgers got off to a fast start, facing the minimum through 4 2/3 innings. He erased Boss Moanoroa's leadoff single in the second by getting Aneury Tavarez to bounce into a double play. He stranded runners in the fifth and sixth -- David Chester after a walk and Jayson Hernandez after a single, respectively -- before striking out two in the seventh.
Daniel Hernandez fanned three and walked one over the final two innings to complete the Legends' second shutout of the season.
It was Rodgers' first South Atlantic League win in his third start at the Class A level. He has not allowed an earned run in two of those starts and has recorded an early 1.72 ERA with 12 strikeouts and a 0.96 WHIP through 15 2/3 innings.
"I'm really focusing on getting ahead of hitters the best I can and making quality pitches when guys get on base," Rodgers said. "I'm trying to work my changeup both in and outside of the plate. It's a pitch I've really tried to focus on. As a lefty, a good changeup really helps me a lot. I just need to get it over more and be more consistent with it."
Selected in the third round of last year's Draft out of Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge, Rodgers has followed a quality first season with his quick start to 2013. He went 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and .226 opponents' average in 11 starts for Rookie-level Burlington in 2012.
The highlight of his season came from July 6-23, when he tossed six no-hit innings against Bristol and followed it up with two outings that both ended after five one-hit frames. Including those three outings, he had yet to reach the seventh inning through 13 outings in professional baseball.
Rodgers is part of what could be the most talent-laden roster in the Sally League.
Royals Top 20 prospects Bubba Starling (No. 1), Raul Mondesi (6), Humberto Arteaga (11) and Cam Gallagher (13) occupied the top four spots in the batting order Friday, and each scored or drove in at least one run. Mondesi, who tripled twice and homered on Thursday, and Gallagher both doubled and drove in two runs, while Starling added a double and drove in his third run of the season.
"It's awesome," Rodgers said. "We have a lot of young guys that not only are really, really talented, but we all get along really well, too. Having played with some of them last year, it already makes everything that much easier. Last year coming in, I didn't know anyone, so this definitely makes me feel more comfortable."