Less than a week after deciding to give baseball his all, Amir Garrett made that decision look brilliant on Wednesday night.
The Reds' No. 18 prospect recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts and tossed a three-hitter for his second shutout of the season as Class A Dayton blanked Lake County, 6-0, in the second game of a doubleheader.
Garrett (7-6) issued one walk while facing three batters over the minimum. He retired the final 10 batters he faced, struck out the side twice in seven innings and threw 83 pitches.
"It was great to see a young pitcher go out there and compete and throw a complete game," Dragons pitching coach Tony Fossas said. "He was able to throw his fastball to both sides of the plate, he was able to pitch down in the strike zone and he had the best slider he's had all year, which is something he's been working on all year. He used the slider as his putaway pitch."
Garrett bested his previous high in strikeouts, set on July 27, when he fanned 10 against Cedar Rapids. Fossas felt the southpaw was able to use the Captains' strengths against them.
"They have a strong lineup and they have a lot of guys with some home runs," the pitching coach said. "At the same time, guys who hit home runs are susceptible to swinging at a lot of pitches. He was able to throw his fastball low and away, he was able to pitch in and he was able to put hitters away with the slider."
Until last week, Garrett was a two-sport star, playing basketball for two seasons at St. John's University before transferring to Cal State-Northridge last year. On Thursday, he announced on Twitter that he would be focusing full-time on baseball.
After scuffling through the first two months of the season, going 0-4 with a 5.03 ERA at the end of May, Garrett has been stellar. The 22-year-old native is 7-2 with a 2.00 ERA in 13 Midwest League starts since June 1, including his first career shutout on June 11 against Bowling Green.
"He's much better," said Fossas, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1988-99. "His delivery is now clean, he's able to throw his breaking ball for strikes, able to throw more strikes consistently. His improvement has been great."
Overall, the 6-foot-5 left-hander sports a 3.22 ERA and is tied for seventh in the league with 113 strikeouts.
Robert Ramirez homered and drove in four runs, while Reds No. 7 prospect Alex Blandino had two hits and scored twice for the Dragons.
Lake County's Jordan Milbrath fell to 3-12 after giving up six runs -- five earned -- on six hits over three innings. He struck out one without issuing a walk.