A rainy Friday in Biloxi turned to a balmy 82 degrees by game time at MGM Park, and the wet conditions made things difficult for Braden Webb in the early going. But the advice of pitching coach David Chavarria spurred the Shuckers right-hander to make proper use of the rosin and find a better grip.
The trouble holding the ball was basically his only problem on the mound. The fact that it was fixed with a simple bag of dust illustrates just how well things have been going for the Brewers prospect.
Video: Webb K's 10 for Shuckers
Webb fired six one-hit innings while matching a personal best with 10 strikeouts as Biloxi shut out Birmingham, 7-0. He walked three.
"I settled down, and I started to put the ball over the plate and let my teammates make some great plays," the 2016 third-rounder said. "Something I had to adapt to was the humidity and how sweaty I'll get during the game. I'm still learning as a pitcher as I continue to progress and continue to grow."
Joel Booker led off the game with the Barons' only hit, a line-drive single to left. Webb walked Danny Mendick to put two aboard with one out, but he posted back-to-back strikeouts of Alex Call and Trey Michalczewski to get out of the inning. In the second, he erased a walk to Matt Rose by inducing a double play. The next inning, Webb pitched around his final free pass to Booker.
He set down the final nine batters in order, striking out the side in the fourth and fifth, and exited having thrown 51 of 86 pitches for strikes.
Gameday box score
The 23-year-old has yielded one run in his last 16 frames over three starts to lower his ERA to 1.80 through four appearances on the circuit.
Webb was promoted to Biloxi on Aug. 8 after posting a 5-8 record with a 4.20 ERA and 104 punchouts in 100 2/3 innings for Class A Advanced Carolina. He went out in style with the Mudcats, allowing one hit and two walks over six scoreless frames in his final outing on Aug. 6 against Lynchburg.
"Just trusting my mechanics and trusting my body has been huge" the Owasso, Oklahoma, native said. "Body control has been a real big thing for me, because I changed my mechanics from last year to this offseason. I've still been making adjustments within my mechanics and learning to control my body and trusting in the pitches that I throw over the plate. ... Having conviction in them has been huge for me."
His first start in the Southern League didn't go so smoothly -- Mobile got to him for three runs on five hits and five walks over four innings on Aug. 14 -- but he bounced back with six frames of one-run ball in his next start against Pensacola. Facing Mississippi on Saturday, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder made his first walk-free start since May 8, allowing one hit over four innings while striking out six.
The 10 whiffs in Friday's game equaled his output in a start at Myrtle Beach on June 14, in which he let up a run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Webb and catcher Tyler Heineman went over a game plan before their first time working together.
"He was just like, 'I'll get a feel for you as the game progresses. The first couple innings, shake as much as you want and by then I'll have a good feel of what pitches you want to throw,'" Webb said. "Whatever he put down, I trusted tonight. It was just, throw the ball over the plate, work down and climb the ladder and just trust my off-speed pitches."
Miguel Sanchez and Nattino Diplan combined on three hitless innings to finish off Biloxi's 11th shutout.
No. 15 Brewers prospect Troy Stokes Jr. drove in four runs with a pair of hits, while Blake Allemand and Weston Wilson each went deep. Top Brewers prospect Keston Hiura doubled and scored twice, and second-ranked Corey Ray stole his 36th base.