Chris Beck never actually played alongside Brandon Short, but he'd seen the former White Sox farmhand on television during Spring Training this year.
"I saw him go 3-for-3 with, like, two homers," Beck said. "So I knew he had power."
That memory rolled through Beck's mind as he faced Short with two on and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday. With a little help from right fielder Trayce Thompson, Beck retired Short -- now a Reds Minor Leaguer -- on a double play to complete eight three-hit innings as Birmingham beat Pensacola, 2-0.
The White Sox No. 5 prospect recorded a career-high eight strikeouts and did not walk a batter, lowering his ERA to 3.43 in four Double-A starts.
Beck (1-2) faced two batters over the minimum through seven innings but found himself in a jam in the eighth. After allowing a single to Devin Lohman and plunking Corey Wimberly with a pitch, the 22-year-old right-hander faced Short.
Short played with Birmingham earlier this season but was released by the White Sox in July and signed with the Reds shortly after. That transaction occurred before Beck was promoted from Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, but he'd seen the designated hitter homer twice against Texas in a Cactus League game on March 26.
On Sunday, Beck jumped ahead of Short, 0-2. After a breaking ball in the dirt, Short fouled off a pitch. Beck's next 1-2 offering was a breaking pitch away that Short drove down the right-field line.
"Honestly, I thought it was going to drop," Beck said. "As soon as he hit it, I thought, 'This ball is down.'"
The ball didn't drop. Right fielder Trayce Thompson, Chicago's fourth-ranked prospect, snagged it with a lunging effort and threw to first to double off Wimberly, who -- like Beck -- reacted as if the ball would drop.
"Trayce, he's an unbelievable athlete," Beck said. "He just really picked me up right there."
Thompson's grab capped Beck's day, but the Georgia Southern product did more or less everything else by himself.
Beck retired the first 11 batters he faced before Yorman Rodriguez singled with two outs in the fourth. He struck out Mike Costanzo, then stranded another runner in the fifth and retired six in a row through the seventh.
The strong outing was a stark turnaround for Beck after a rough performance against Tennessee last week. He was chased after five innings in that game, allowing six runs -- five earned -- on 11 hits.
"The mistakes you make are amplified [at Double-A]," Beck said. "Against Tennessee, that's a pretty experienced lineup, and depending on how you look at it, they're maybe the best hitting team in the league. I left the ball up a few times and they made me pay for it, 1-9."
Beck went out against Pensacola determined to work into better pitcher's counts, and did that predominantly with his fastball.
"One pitch that maybe has gotten me an out in High-A, it might not get me one here," he said. "The quality of the strikes has to be different in what kind of strikes you're throwing. It's not just up in the zone, it's about changing locations, up and down and in and out, changing eye levels on the hitter."
Blue Wahoos starter Jon Moscot matched zeros with Beck through six innings, but the Barons broke through in the seventh against Parker Frazier. Daniel Wagner hit a leadoff single, moved up on Cody Puckett's sacrifice and scored on Thompson's 22nd double of the season. Dan Black followed with a single to make it 2-0.