While his improvements have come slowly this season, Hansel Robles is taking to his development aggressively.
Working on adding depth to his secondary pitches, the Mets' prospect tossed a three-hitter for his first career complete game on Saturday night as Double-A Binghamton blanked Erie, 6-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep.
"He didn't throw a lot of pitches, he only needed 72 in seven innings. He was just aggressive in the strike zone and got them to swing early," Binghamton pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "This was a good start, one of his best."
Just one out into the first inning and the game didn't look like it would develop into the gem it became for the 23-year-old right-hander. Robles yielded singles to Jamie Johnson and Jason Krizan and, after Tigers No. 2 prospect Devon Travis sacrificed, the SeaWolves were threatening.
But that was the last time Erie got a runner in scoring position as Robles (4-4) set down the next nine batters. He worked around a walk in the fourth and didn't allow another baserunner until the seventh.
"I think his confidence is getting better because he is seeing results in bullpen [sessions]," Abbott said. "It's a slow development with the slider and changeup, but he is seeing results, and that helps his confidence."
Abbott, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1973-84, said that while the native of the Dominican Republic has not shown vast improvement, he's never seemed discouraged.
"[Development is] slow, but it's coming. He is throwing a lot of strikes and has trouble getting the ball out of the strike zone, he is working on getting it up," the coach said. "Slider's been too flat and changeup's been too hard. He's trying to get the ball down. He just needs to add tilt on his slider, soften his changeup."
Missing the zone only 19 times, Robles threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 24 batters he faced. He fanned five, issued one walk and lowered his ERA to 4.48, the lowest it's been in a month.
Behind Robles, Brian Burgamy went 3-for-3 and fell a triple shy of the cycle, while Matt Reynolds, Matt Clark and Travis Traijeron homered. Reynolds, who leads the Eastern League with a .357 average, went yard for the first time since Aug. 23 with Class A Advanced St. Lucie.
Erie starter Nick Avila (0-3) was tagged for three runs on four hits, including a pair of homers, in four frames. He struck out three without walking a batter.
The Mets also took the opener, 4-2.