A tumultuous midseason stretch made Connor Grey question how he could get opponents out in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League. But since he's corrected some of his problems, he's more than ready for the postseason. The D-Backs prospect gave up one hit and struck out nine over seven scoreless frames, but Class
A tumultuous midseason stretch made Connor Grey question how he could get opponents out in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League.
But since he's corrected some of his problems, he's more than ready for the postseason.
The D-Backs prospect gave up one hit and struck out nine over seven scoreless frames, but Class A Advanced Visalia dropped a 2-1, 10-inning decision to Stockton on Saturday at Banner Island Ballpark. Despite the loss, the Rawhide clinched the second playoff berth in the California League North Division.
Gameday box score
"It feels great. I got a lot of confidence going into the playoffs," Grey said. "This last month, I thought I've pitched really well and it's just a lot of confidence in myself, knowing I can go out there and compete and hold these guys to zeros every inning."
After a clean first, Grey worked around a single in the second and a walk in the third before retiring the last 12 batters he faced. He threw 60 of 93 pitches for strikes.
The right-hander is trending in the right direction, boasting a 1.95 ERA over six starts since Aug. 3. That's a complete turnaround from July, when he posted a 6.48 ERA in six starts.
"It was just trying to figure things out and how to attack guys," Grey said. "When I was struggling, I just wasn't getting ahead of guys.
"I was really focused on hitting my spots this month and trying to compete every pitch and execute those. It was the way I should have been pitching all year."
Also during his struggles, Grey found his slider didn't have much bite to it and was being hit often, so he turned frequently to his changeup, a burgeoning pitch for the 23-year-old. As it turns out, the struggles with his slider were a blessing in disguise.
"It made me throw that changeup and it made me a lot more comfortable with it," Grey said. "Now I can use it in any count and now I have four pitches that I can throw in any count, now that my slider came back."
Grey pitched at four levels last year, mostly splitting time between Class A Short Season Hillsboro and Class A Kane County. He compiled a 2.11 ERA and pitched a perfect game for Kane County exactly one year ago.
D-backs No. 2 prospect Jasrado Chisholm whacked a solo homer in the first to put the Rawhide up, 1-0, but Greg Deichmann eventually answered with a solo shot in the eighth. Viosergy Rosa walked it off for the Ports with an infield single in the 10th.
Visalia still popped Champagne in the clubhouse after the game since Modesto was eliminated from playoff contention with its loss to San Jose.
"We were tracking it, a couple of people had their phones on," Grey said. "We got the notification that it said [walk-off] home run and we started celebrating in the dugout."
Josh Horton is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @joshhortonMiLB