After Duke von Schamann emerged as one of Class A Great Lakes' best starting pitchers in the second half of last season, he was given a one-outing taste of Double-A with Chattanooga.
Seeing Southern League hitters gave him a nice preview for what awaited in the Class A Advanced California League and, after Friday's start, the Dodgers prospect appears to have settled into a nice rhythm in how he attacks the hitter-friendly circuit.
The 21-year-old right-hander lasted a season-high 7 2/3 innings and allowed a run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes beat the Lake Elsinore Storm, 5-1.
A 15th-round pick in last year's Draft, von Schamann (2-1) had given up six runs over four innings in his second start of the season and settled down in his third, yielding three runs in six frames, before having what he felt was his most complete outing of the year Friday.
"I really felt like I was in a groove there, especially with the fastball early in the count. Getting strikes, getting hitters out early, which helped me get deep in the game," he said. "I gave up [six] runs in High Desert, the winds were blowing out at 38 [mph] and that set me back a little bit. But tonight I felt great, best I've felt all year."
The son of former NFL kicker Uwe von Schamann, Duke said his brief stint with the Lookouts last summer helped him prepare for life outside Class A and see how to pitch to more advanced hitters.
"Being up there for that two, three weeks, seeing those hitters -- how much they battle, don't strike out, real mature hitters -- it helps," he said. "You come down to the Cal League and the fields are a little harder, the wind's blowing out; it's still great competition, you just have that peace of mind that you can pitch in Double-A."
The Texas Tech product advanced rapidly following the Draft last year, making two appearances in the Rookie-level Pioneer League before moving up to the Midwest League, then getting a taste of the Southern League.
With Great Lakes, von Schamann went 4-4 in 12 starts, recording a 3.22 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 13 walks in 67 innings. He ended up with a 3.00 ERA while pitching 75 innings.
Against Lake Elsinore, von Schamann enjoyed his longest outing since going a career-high eight innings last July 26 against Dayton. He has a 3.80 ERA to go with 18 strikeouts and six walks in 23 2/3 frames.
"I know it's early in the season, but I was able to keep the pitch count down and they got those four runs for me, so I had all the confidence. It was great for me to get deep, save the bullpen," von Schamann said. "I just want to stay focused and throw all four of my pitches for strikes, keep the pitch count low and get ground balls. That'll help me a lot."
Offensively, Jon Garcia went 2-for-4 with a homer for the Quakes. Scott Schebler tripled, doubled and drove in a run.