A bright future in "The Show" lies ahead for Edwin Diaz, according to his manager.
The right-hander certainly validated that prediction with his performance Thursday.
The Mariners' fourth-ranked prospect allowed three hits over six innings during Class A Clinton's 5-0 victory at Great Lakes. He racked up eight strikeouts without issuing a walk in earning his first win since May 21.
"This was, I thought, the best game of the year for him," LumberKings skipper Scott Steinmann said. "He had command of all of his pitches. He definitely was attacking the zone. This is the type of guy, he needs to be in the long-term [plan], because this type of guy will pitch well in the big leagues."
Diaz (3-5) tied his season high for strikeouts in his first walkless outing of the season. It marked the fourth time this year that he kept his opponent off the scoreboard.
The 2012 third-round pick yielded an infield single to Malcolm Holland in the first inning, a double to Brandon Trinkwon in the fifth and a single to Spencer Navin in the sixth. Of the 20 batters he faced, five grounded out and three flew out.
"If he ever did get behind with his fastball, he had the ability tonight -- which was impressive -- to throw a slider for a strike ... and get back even with the count," Steinmann said. "And then once he got ahead, he could put them away with a slider below the zone or a fastball above the zone. He did a real good job of mixing it up.
"That was the best command I've seen from him, and I think from almost any of our pitchers this year. I mean, that was very impressive."
MLB.com gave Diaz's fastball a 60 grade, which puts it at above average. The 20-year-old's heater touched 97 mph during the sixth, according to the LumberKings.
If the pitcher was throwing a little harder than usual, some extra time off because of a blister on his right middle finger might explain why. Or maybe not.
"I think most of his velocity came with confidence," Steinmann said. "Once he gets rolling a little bit, gets confidence with his pitches and he's ahead more often, he's going to attack the zone a little bit more, just naturally go after it.
"It was pretty firm. He was running it up there pretty good."
The Puerto Rico native owns a 3.32 ERA through 17 starts this year, his first of full-season ball. Across 84 innings, he has fanned 79 and walked 34 while holding hitters to a .240 average.
After throwing seven shutout frames against Peoria on May 21, Diaz went home with three losses over his next seven starts, during which he compiled a 4.04 ERA. He most recently pitched July 5, when he took a hard-loss after giving up two runs in 5 2/3 innings against Kane County.
"He's still young, so there's definitely things he can work on and still get better at. Tonight was pretty good," Steinmann said. "This game is all about just repeating and being consistent with your best stuff. If he can continue to produce outings like this, it doesn't have to be as perfect as this, but as good as this or close to this, I would definitely be very happy."
Aaron Barbosa went 3-for-3 with a double, two walks, two runs scored and three stolen bases from the top of Clinton's lineup. Jeff Zimmerman and Luis Caballero launched solo home runs in the fourth and Marcus Littlewood added a pair of RBIs.
Great Lakes starter Victor Arano (4-4) surrendered four runs on 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings.