Beau Burrows came to a realization after his first start as a professional.
"In high school, I was more of a blow-it-by-guys type," the Tigers' second-ranked prospect said. "But now that I'm in pro ball, I'm more of a pitch-to-contact guy. I figured it out after my first start last summer where I was trying to blow the ball by some guys and it didn't really work out. So I thought to myself 'I need to start pitching to contact and getting outs by getting the ball put in play'."
That revelation paid dividends for the right-hander Sunday.
Burrows (1-1) gave up two hits and a walk and fanned two over 5 2/3 frames to lead Class A West Michigan to a 3-2 victory over Quad Cities in the first game of a doubleheader at Modern Woodmen Park. It marked the longest start of his career.
"I felt pretty good. I was getting ahead in most counts, throwing a lot of strikes," the 19-year-old said. "The fastball was my main pitch today. Toward the end of the game, I started throwing more changeups, more curveballs to get them off balance."
Burrows cruised through the first two innings before yielding a leadoff single to fifth-ranked Astros prospect Daz Cameron to begin the third. But catcher Shane Zeile eliminated the threat by throwing out the speedy outfielder on a steal of second, the second time nabbed a would-be base-stealer in the game.
"Shane is a great catcher," Burrows said. "I have a lot of trust in him when he's behind the plate. When he threw those two guys out, it relieved a lot of stress on me and my teammates. He's a big part of [my success] that way."
Burrows didn't allow a baserunner in the fourth or the fifth, but a fielding error by second baseman Brett Pirtle and a wild pitch to begin the sixth prevented him from finishing the inning. The Texas native retired to the dugout having thrown 81 pitches, 52 for strikes.
"I feel like I battled most of the game," he said. "Not finishing up the [last] inning is a little upsetting, but we got the win, so that's all that matters."
Selected by Detroit with 22nd pick in the 2015 Draft, Burrows has compiled an impressive streak of starts since being roughed up for four runs on four hits and walking three over 3 2/3 innings in his first Midwest League outing on April 11.
Since rebounding with five scoreless frames on April 17, the Weatherford (Texas) High School product has allowed two hits and one run over his last 15 2/3 innings. The key to the turnaround has been relatively simple.
"Just dominating my pitches and getting ahead in most counts and letting them hit the ball and put it in play," Burrows said.
Jake Shull fanned Osvaldo Duarte to end the game and pick up his second save.
River Bandits starter Justin Ferrell (0-1) surrendered three runs on three hits and three walks and struck out three over 4 2/3 innings.
Cameron finished 2-for-3 for his second multi-hit game of the season.
The second game of the doubleheader was canceled due to rain.
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.