Learning to trust his pitches has been the key to Cesar Vargas' turnaround.
The Yankees' prospect struck out three over a career-high seven innings and combined with Ben Paullus on a one-hitter Friday night, pitching Class A Charleston to a 2-0 victory at Augusta.
Vargas (3-3) carried a no-hitter into the sixth before giving up a leadoff single to Alberto Robles. Because he walked four batters, he never retired more than six in a row. But he pitched past the sixth inning for the first time in 37 Minor League starts.
"Cesar did a really god job of mixing his pitches," RiverDogs pitching coach Danny Borrell said. "First time through the lineup, he was establishing his pitches to both sides of the plate, and when you do that you can mix your pitch package in more effectively. It was fun to watch."
The 21-year-old right-hander throws a four-seam fastball that Borrell described as having "a small cut to both sides," a curveball, changeup and a recently introduced slider. It's been a newfound faith in the changeup that's been the story of Vargas' season.
"When he started to trust his changeup, that's when his year turned around," Borrell said. "It's been hit or miss, some outings especially in the last month he's done a great job of trusting it and using it."
Vargas ranks 10th in the South Atlantic League with a 3.11 ERA and fifth with a .214 opponents' batting average. The native of Mexico has given up 59 hits while striking out 65 over 75 2/3 innings.
Paullus came on in the eighth and fanned four in two hitless innings to register his fifth save.
"It's great," said Borrell, the Yankees' second-round pick in the 2000 Draft. "Anytime you do that, regardless of what level, it's always rewarding for the guys. You look up at the scoreboard and there's one hit on the board and you know the kids have done a great job."
Yankees No. 7 prospect Angelo Gumbs was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Cito Culver doubled twice for Charleston.
GreenJackets starter Martin Agosta (7-3) suffered his first loss since May 31 after giving up a run on four hits over 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out three.