Southpaw Sean Manaea cashed in for the Blue Rocks on National Left-Handers Day.
The Royals' No. 3 prospect tossed the first complete game of his career as Class A Advanced Wilmington defeated Frederick, 4-0, in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader. Kansas City's top prospect, Raul Mondesi, backed his starter by homering in his fourth straight outing.
Manaea struggled a bit with his command early, hitting a pair of batters in the first inning. The 22-year-old gave up singles to Chih-Hsien Chang in the first and Trey Mancini in the third. He retired 12 straight before walking Wynston Sawyer with two outs in the seventh.
"I was definitely locating my fastball," he said. "I feel like that the biggest factor in everything today was pitching off my fastball. The first couple of innings I really couldn't find my slider, I hit two guys with it. It just felt like it wasn't moving. Somehow I figured it out, and those last couple of innings, I felt like I was throwing it for strikes and doing what I wanted to do."
Wednesday's strikeout total tied for third-highest of Manaea's season. He credited two pitches for that.
"It was either fastball up or slider in the dirt," he said. "I tried to go up and in on some guys, and if that didn't work, I'd go to the slider either away or down in the dirt."
Since the start of July, Manaea has shaved 1.5 runs off his ERA for the Blue Rocks, lowering it to 3.25. The Indiana native credited his success to a talk with former Major Leaguer Jeff Suppan.
"I finally found a routine," MLB.com's No. 73 prospect said. "The first half of the season, I didn't have a routine at all. I talked to Jeff Suppan a couple of weeks ago and I talked to him about routines. He said how much it helped him throughout his career.
"I've been doing that the last couple of weeks. I feel like it's really helped me out a lot. It's calmed me down a little bit and I feel like on gameday, I feel right. I have a different mind-set coming into the games now. I'm attacking hitters and just thinking 'you won't get a hit off me.' It's crazy how that works."
Overall, Manaea is 5-8 and tied for first in the Carolina League with 121 strikeouts in 22 starts. After allowing hitters to bat .288 prior to the All-Star Break, the Indiana State University has limited hitters to a .176 average in his last 10 starts.
"It's coming along," Manaea said. "The first half was rough because I didn't know what I was doing on the mound. It was really frustrating because I knew I was better than that. I was finding myself and just learning so many different things about the game. It's crazy how much I've learned in one year."
Mondesi slugged a two-run homer -- his fourth in four games -- and Fred Ford added a two-run shot to account for the Blue Rocks' offense.
Parker Bridwell fell to 5-9 after surrendering four runs on three hits and struck out nine over six innings for the Keys.
In the nightcap, Glenn Sparkman struck out seven over six one-hit innings and Daniel Stumpf (3-8) allowed one hit in one frame in Wilmington's 1-0 victory.