In a short time span, Tom Windle has soaked up instruction at two levels in the Dodgers system. On Friday night, he puts those lessons to work.
Los Angeles' seventh-ranked prospect matched a personal best with seven strikeouts over a career-high seven innings, pitching Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga to a 7-0 blanking of Stockton at Banner Island Ballpark.
"He and [pitching coach] Matt Herges have been working in the bullpen on precision," Quakes manager P.J. Forbes said. "Tonight what we saw was his misses were down and his slider was above-average. He worked both sides of the plate with his fastball -- two-seam and four-seam -- and the occasional changeup. For the most part, to right-handed hitters especially, he could back-foot that slider, it seemed like, anytime. He used that as his out pitch tonight."
Windle (3-2), a 2013 second-round pick out of the University of Minnesota, made some adjustments to his delivery after a recent subpar bullpen session with Herges. Since then, the left-hander has started to find his form.
"He's a sponge. It's fun to talk to him," Forbes said. "It's fun to listen to Matt talk to him. The questions that he responds with through a bullpen session or like after tonight's start, he's so open-minded."
The Quakes gave Windle an early cushion, thanks to Chris Jacobs' RBI double in the first and five runs in the second. Jon Garcia doubled home two and Jacobs added another RBI single. The lengthy stay in the dugout didn't affect Windle.
"The couple of times that he did have baserunners on, he immediately rolled double-play balls [in the fourth and sixth], and we turned them for him," Forbes said. "The thing we looked at tonight was the misses. A couple games ago, he got beat up a little bit and everything was up in the zone. Watching him go through his work with Matt down in the bullpen, the quality of misses throughout his last bullpen sessions have all gotten better."
Windle (3-2) finished on a strong note. After issuing a leadoff walk to Dusty Robinson in the fifth, he retired the next three batters, ending the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. He erased a leadoff single by A's No. 3 prospect Daniel Robertson in the sixth with a double play and retired the final five Ports he faced on the way to the win.
"Talking to our catcher, Tyler Ogle, tonight, he wasn't sure what certain fastballs were going to do," Forbes said. "One time he'd have one that would explode in on a guy's knuckles, another would run off his barrel away. That's just the kind of life [Windle] has on his fastball when he's down. That's what's so exciting to us as an organization. Touching 93 [mph], pitching 90-92 and that ball moving all over the place, it's hard to square him up."
Freddie Cabrera and Blake Smith each pitched an inning to polish off the Quakes' third shutout of the season.
Jacobs added a solo homer in the fifth to round out Rancho Cucamonga's scoring.
Stockton starter Seth Streich (3-2) surrendered seven runs -- five earned -- on 10 hits and a walk while striking out five over 4 1/3 innings.