Zac Lowther already had a good season going before last week. His most recent two starts were nothing short of great.
Baltimore's No. 8 prospect struck out 15 batters over 12 2/3 scoreless innings across two starts for Double-A Bowie to claim Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors for May 13-19.
"The last week, I've just been working on a lot of my consistency," Lowther said. "Staying in the zone with all three pitches is something that obviously you're going to need the more you go up. Just being able to work pitches off each other, that's something I didn't do too much early. That's something I've been working on in bullpens, side work, just trying to be more unpredictable to the hitters. Being able to put really good starts back-to-back is something I've been trying to do all year and just being able to mentally get back into the groove of going out there and being able to throw my best stuff even if I don't have maybe the best control that day, working with what I have."
• View the Offensive Player of the Week winners »
The left-hander opened his week with 7 2/3 stellar innings against Akron, his third start against the RubberDucks this season. He struck out seven with one walk while scattering six hits on May 14. Five days later, Lowther did not allow a walk over five frames in his second matchup of the season with Erie, fanning eight and allowing five hits.
"It's really encouraging for me just going through the process of reading the hitters, going at-bat to at-bat, turning over the lineup a couple of times," he said of seeing teams multiple times in short order. "Being able to have those productive outs where the first time I think I got a lot of ground balls, last time I got a lot of fly balls, being able to change it up and keep them on their toes."
Command and control have improved as Lowther's season has gone along, as well. The Xavier product walked 15 over 23 2/3 in his first five starts of the season. Over his last three outings, Lowther has fanned 19 while walking only two.
"I'm just not trying to be too perfect," he said. "Early in the year, trying to nibble a little bit, you're facing better hitters so maybe I was backing off what I throw normally. Just being able to get back into the groove of that and really attack the guys and give them my best stuff and not try and nibble as much, that's definitely the biggest thing. Walks kill you, so I'm just trying to limit those any way I can."
2019 MiLB include
The award is Lowther's first since last April 22 with Class A Delmarva, on his way to being named a Baltimore Organization All-Star. For now, the last few outings provide a blueprint for what Lowther wants to continue going forward.
"Just keep building on what I did last time and the previous time before that," he said. "Just put a couple of good [starts] together. Being able to tunnel different pitches, work on my offspeed more, that's going to be the biggest thing for me, the consistency with that. Week in and week out, putting strong focus on those and keeping my fastball where it is and just letting it play up as much as possible [is key]."
Below is the complete list of Minor League Pitchers of the Week for May 13-19:
||1-0, 1.29 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 K
||1-0, 0.87 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K
||2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 2/3 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 15 K
||2-0, 1.93 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 HBP, 2 BB, 17 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
||2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 2 BB, 16 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
||Jasseel De La Cruz
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 SHO, 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K