Andrew Barbosa isn't really a power pitcher, usually working around 87-89 mph with his fastball. And he's never really considered himself a strikeout pitcher.
Yet he's been piling up strikeouts for the Visalia Rawhide.
The D-backs prospect fanned 10 and allowed just one hit over six scoreless frames on Tuesday night before the Rawhide posted a 6-5, 11-inning victory over visiting Stockton.
It was the second time this year Barbosa has recorded double-digit strikeouts after fanning 11 in his season debut on April 8.
"It's funny because usually my curveball is my putaway pitch, but I had a few [strikeouts] with my changeup today," said the 25-year-old left-hander, who issued three walks. "I just really think that once I did attack that inside corner it made it so much easier to throw my secondary pitches for the hitters to chase.
"It was definitely awesome. I didn't really know how many I had, thought it was only seven or eight, but it's always good [to get that many]."
But, he added, part of why he doesn't identify as a strikeout pitcher is because of how they can keep a starter from lasting very long in a game.
"At the same time, you're trying to get deep in the game, and with a lot of strikeouts your pitch count gets up there and they yank you earlier," Barbosa said. "I always tell myself to focus on pitching to contact, letting them put it in play, but I wind up with a lot of 0-2, 1-2 counts and even a lot of 3-2 counts, where I'll just throw the off-speed pitch for a strike. I don't consider myself a power pitcher or a strikeout pitcher, but it's just happening."
The University of South Florida product finds himself with a 7-6 record, 4.30 ERA and 110 strikeouts over 92 innings. And things have turned around a bit in recent weeks.
Having undergone two back surgeries, Barbosa said he began feeling pain again after posting a 1.33 ERA in his first five starts of the season. Over his next five outings, he averaged only three innings and his ERA ballooned from 4.21 to 5.04 during a six-start stretch that continued into July.
Then he had a visit from D-backs Minor League pitching coordinator Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who, Barbosa said, provided an instant fix.
"It wasn't really an injury but tightness, and things were going downhill from there," the 2012 36th-round pick said. "I'm thinking, 'Aw, jeez, not again.' I've already had two surgeries. But they had our pitching coordinator come in and he tweaked it a little bit and I'm getting back on it now. I don't know what he did, but it's fine."
Things have gone markedly better in his last three starts as Barbosa owns a 1.06 ERA, 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 17 innings. And in his last two outings, he's allowed only two hits over 11 frames. Tuesday's effort, he said, was a high point in his resurgence.
"I mean, it was incredible. For the most part, I'm just glad I did well and finally found command of my fastball on the inside of the plate," Barbosa said. "We're pushing for the Wild Card against Stockton, too, so I'm just hoping to get into the playoffs."
Barbosa left with a 5-0 lead, but the Ports tied it in the ninth on Antonio Lamas' sacrifice fly. The Rawhide walked off in the 11th as Evan Marzilli doubled with one out and scored one out later on single by Tom Belza, who went 3-for-6 with three RBIs.