The biggest obstacle in Jarred Cosart's path to the big leagues has been the base on balls. Thursday, he put that behind him.
The Astros' No. 4 prospect gave up four hits while fanning eight over six shutout innings as Triple-A Oklahoma City defeated New Orleans, 4-1.
Cosart delivered 103 pitches en route to his seventh win of the season for the RedHawks. He did not issue a walk and struck out three of his last four batters.
"The biggest thing for me was being able to get ahead, being able to throw strike one," he said. "I had my curveball working with my fastball. Everything mechanically felt pretty crisp."
Just three weeks ago, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Cosart was close to being ready for the Major Leagues, noting there were a few things the 23-year-old right-hander needed to improve upon. Cosart was quick to agree with the assessment and pointed to one area in particular -- walks.
Thursday was the first outing since April 20 in which Cosart did not issue a walk. Over his last four starts, he's issued 20 free passes.
"From a player standpoint, you always want to think you can pitch there and I do think I'm ready," MLB.com's No. 80 prospect said. "My walk total has been higher than normal, I think that's maybe the only thing that's held me back. From here on out, I'm going to focus on not nibbling and throwing strikes and getting ahead.
"It basically came down to being too fine early in the counts. Shying away from contact, trying to get strikeouts."
Despite the high walk total, Cosart has had a successful season for the RedHawks, going 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 15 games. The Texas native is tied with Nashville's Johnny Hellweg for the Pacific Coast League lead with a .197 average against and is fifth with 79 strikeouts.
"I feel like it's been outstanding," Cosart said of his season. "I've been missing a lot of bats. They're not hitting it or they're hitting it weakly. The only time I've gotten in trouble is when I've walked four, five, six batters. You can't do that in the big leagues. Everything is clicking pretty good."
Rhiner Cruz followed with a hitless inning of relief and Alex Sogard allowed a solo homer in the eighth. Josh Zeid struck out three and gave up a hit in the ninth for his fifth save.
Brett Wallace was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and Astros' No. 20 prospect Carlos Perez plated a pair of runs. Top prospect Jonathan Singleton reached base three times.