Atlanta Braves pitching prospect Jarrett Miller describes himself as his own harshest critic. He demands perfection of himself in a game that is heavy on failure.
Still, he was pretty pleased with how his latest start unfolded.
Miller (6-5) allowed one single and a walk while striking out four batters over seven innings in the Class A Advanced Lynchburg Hillcats' 4-0 win over the Carolina Mudcats.
It was the Hillcats' fourth shutout of the season and second of July. Miller was also on the mound when Lynchburg blanked Salem on June 14, but that day he allowed six hits over 5 2/3 frames.
"I would say this is my strongest start of the year," said Miller, who had allowed four runs in each of his previous three starts. "Confidence-wise, I went out there and made my pitches, and catcher Shawn McGill was on the same page as me all night.
"I'm a perfectionist and that's a difficult thing to be in the game of baseball because it's a game of failure. The important thing is to stay positive and keep the good things up. I feel like things could have gone better tonight, but it is what it is. You have to have a short memory and keep progressing."
Miller allowed a two-out single to Indians' top prospect Francisco Lindor in the first inning, but that was the only base hit a trio of Lynchburg hurlers would surrender.
"Lindor is a great shortstop and a great hitter," said Miller, who also hit three batters. "My goal is not to necessarily strike him out, but just to get him out. A 3-2 count, I'm trying to get a fastball down. I didn't get in all the way down and he ripped it for a base hit.
"A hitter will fail in that situation seven out of 10 times, so you have to take those odds and try to manage the lower half of the strike zone. He did exactly what a professional hitter should do."
The 23-year-old right-hander is now in his third year of pro ball. He went 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 19 relief appearances across two levels in 2011 and he was 5-3 with a 4.11 mark in 16 games -- including seven starts -- with Class A Rome last season.
He has continued to improve all facets of his game, including keeping the ball down and maintaining a good tempo.
"Me and pitching coach Derek Botelho have been working on just slowing down my delivery. I got into the habit of trying to rush, thinking I would throw harder if I threw faster. But actually, a relaxed muscle is a fast muscle," the North Carolina-Greensboro product said.
"I've also been working on trying to break two planes with my fastball because I don't want it to be flat. When it leaves your hand, you want it to go down to the mitt instead of staying on the same plane. That makes it harder to square up and you're more likely to induce more popups and ground balls."
Carlos Perez worked a perfect eighth inning in his Hillcats debut and John Cornely set down the side in order in the ninth to seal the shutout.
Carolina starter Joseph Colon (0-2) took the loss, allowing all four runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and a walk. He fanned 11 batters.