Rob Gsellman doesn't know why he went from the South Atlantic League to the New York-Penn League, but that experience has made him a better pitcher.
The Mets prospect recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts and allowed two hits over eight innings Saturday night as short-season Brooklyn blanked Vermont, 2-0, at Centennial Field.
After yielding a leadoff bunt single to Herschel Powell in the bottom of the first, Gsellman (3-2) retired the next 12 batters, striking out seven, before Chad Pinder singled to open the fifth. He ended up issuing one walk and faced three batters over the minimum in his 11th start for the Cyclones.
"Everything was working, my fastball was really good," Gsellman said. "[Catcher] Tomas Nido called a good game, I felt comfortable with everything he called."
The 20-year-old right-hander had never eclipsed double digits in strikeouts before Saturday, fanning six in a game several times, most recently on July 12 against Auburn.
All of them basically [were strikeout pitches] -- fastball, changeup, curveball," he said. "I felt real good on the mound after that first hit of the game."
The Cyclones staked the California native to an early lead as Mets No. 8 prospect Gavin Cecchini hit a one-out single in the top of the first and L.J. Mazzilli followed with his second homer of the season.
"It's a big thing, run support, it takes a little weight off your shoulders," Gsellman said.
Before joining the Cyclones, the 2011 13th-round Draft pick made five starts for Class A Savannah and two for Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Pitching against more advanced hitters has helped him in Brooklyn, where he has a 1.60 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 67 1/3 innings.
"It helped me a lot," Gsellman said. "The hitters up there helped me a lot because [they] know how to hit a little better than the hitters down here."
While it's unlikely, given how little time is left in the regular season, that he will find his way back to the South Atlantic or Florida State leagues this year, Gsellman believes the route back is simple.
"Just keep doing what I'm doing," the New York-Penn League All Star said.
Gsellman's gem came one night after teammate Miller Diaz fanned a career-high 11 over seven scoreless innings.
Johnny Magliozzi worked around a hit in the ninth en route to his seventh save, wrapping up the Cyclones' seventh shutout of the season.
In addition to his single in the first, Cecchini also walked twice for Brookyln.
Lake Monsters starter Brent Powers (4-3) yielded two runs on four hits over six innings with a walk and four strikeouts.