Kolby Allard entered his third professional season with a list of goals, one of which was to reach 150 innings for Double-A Mississippi. The Braves No. 3 prospect came into the opener of Friday night's doubleheader exactly seven innings shy of that mark.
"I told my pitching coach [Derrick Lewis] before the game, 'I got to go seven today,'" Allard recalled. "He was like, 'All right, man. You do you.'"
The left-hander did just that as he allowed one hit and one walk with five strikeouts for his first career shutout in Mississippi's 3-0 win over Birmingham. In 27 starts, Allard (8-11) logged a 3.18 ERA with 129 strikeouts and 45 walks.
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"I had my ups and downs just like any year would have," the 20-year-old said. "I think I learned more about myself and more about pitching this year than I have any previous year in my life. This year, I can't thank our pitching coach enough. He's helped me through it and we've done a lot of things and I've become a lot better pitcher because of it."
With the M-Braves' season ending Monday and a callup to the Major Leagues not likely, Allard's third professional season is complete. The California native has tentative plans for the start of the offseason typical of an Orange County resident before his focus shifts back to baseball.
"I might go home for a couple weeks and chill and go surf a little bit," Allard said. "Then going to start back at square one. I'm trying to put on a couple pounds this offseason, trying to get bigger and stronger to hopefully handle a bigger workload next year. That's the goal is to go up and help us win ballgames in Atlanta."
Video: M-Braves' Allard finishes off shutout with a K
Friday's outing was the second straight in which Allard completed seven innings. Last Saturday, he fanned nine and surrendered five hits without allowing a walk in the Braves' 5-0 win over Pensacola.
"Obviously, it was nice to finish strong. I haven't thrown this many innings in my career before," the 2015 first-round pick said. "If you put in the work in the offseason ... and get your body in good shape and work hard at the beginning of the year, it obviously helps later in the year."
After two perfect innings, MLB.com's No. 25 overall prospect walked Alfredo Gonzalez to start the third, snapping a streak of 21 2/3 innings without issuing a free pass. Keon Barnum followed with a single through the right side.
After Gonzalez was thrown out trying to steal third, Danny Mendick flied out to right and Allard whiffed Jose Vinicio for his first strikeout of the game. He cruised through the final four innings without allowing a baserunner and threw 65 of 98 pitches for strikes.
"We just stuck with what we been doing all season -- establishing the fastball to both sides," Allard said. "Changeup was working tonight, I was slowing some bats down with that. I went out there and executed pitches, the defense did a good job behind me and got some outs."
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Braves No. 17 prospect Alex Jackson put Mississippi on the board in the second with an inside-the-park homer. Joey Meneses also contributed a solo homer in the sixth and Keith Curcio added two singles.
Video: Mississippi's Jackson nets inside-the-parker