Growing pains are part of the game, especially for the youngest of professionals, so it should come as no surprise that Phillies No. 20 prospect Mitch Gueller suffered a bit over his first two seasons because he simply wasn't ready for what the game had to offer.
Now the 20-year-old hurler is starting to gain a foothold on what it takes, having matured from his first two seasons while putting things together in his second stint with the Williamsport Crosscutters.
"I wasn't ready mentally," said Gueller, a compensatory first-round pick (54th overall) in 2012. "It was not knowing the professional game, not being ready. I didn't have a plan that I could stick to and fall back on. This year's been a little easier to do that."
Part of his plan this season has included both a change in mind-set and mechanics, lengthening his stride and straightening out his downhill delivery instead of coming across the body with his arm.
Another key component in Gueller's success this year is the introduction of a slider to replace his curveball.
"This is my first year with the slider," Gueller said. "I learned it last year in instructs. It feels better every week, and I feel like it's come a long way since last year, so I'm pretty happy with it.
"Last year I had a curveball and then went to a slider -- that has suited my game a little better with my arm action."
As far as the mental side is concerned, he's learned to sit back and enjoy the game, instead of letting it get to him when things aren't firing on all cylinders.
"I just learned it's not life or death every outing," said Gueller. "Last year I took it pretty hard if I had a bad outing and it would affect my next start. There's a give and take. I've been trying to have fun and stay loose."
This has all culminated in Gueller's best stuff so far, flashing a 5-3 record with a 3.68 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 10 starts and earning a New York-Penn League All-Star nod in the process.
Prior to the start of the season, like any prospect, he was hoping to bump up a level, but a return trip to Williamsport seems to have been exactly what Gueller needed to put the pieces into place.
"I feel like I've progressed a lot in the last year," said Gueller. "It was a good thing coming back here [to Williamsport]. At first I wanted to move up and everything, but I've learned a lot about myself and this game that's been good for me.
"Next year, we'll see what happens, but right now I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at."
Bases by the bunch: Jamestown catcher Kevin Krause tripled twice in a three-game span, giving him a team-high four. Of his 35 hits this season, 19 have been for extra bases, and he leads the league with a .563 slugging percentage. Krause also leads the league with a .918 OPS and is third on the Jammers with six stolen bases.
Constant rotation: After allowing just one run in his first four starts, Brooklyn's Marcos Molina has yielded 10 earned runs in his last five games. The Mets' No. 16 prospect is still second in the league with a 1.78 ERA and first with a 0.90 WHIP. Molina also carries a 5.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Monster stretch: Vermont shortstop Yairo Munoz has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games, raising his batting average to .307 through 51 contests. During that stretch he has 12 extra-base hits, nine RBIs and nine runs scored. In his first two seasons, over 57 games, he hit just .217.