Add Cody Buckel to the growing list of pitchers who have benefited from lessons at the Trevor Bauer School of Pitching.
Buckel, Texas' No. 11 prospect, has known Bauer for some time, and worked with him this offseason on refining his own long-toss routine and finetuning his repertoire.
The results, so far, have proved worthwhile. On Thursday, Buckel turned in his second straight scoreless start, leading Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach to a 1-0 win over Potomac. The Rangers' second-round pick in 2010 allowed just two hits, while striking out nine and without a walk over six innings.
"I was just using good pitch sequences, seeing the reaction time of the hitter, seeing what they're doing in the box," said Buckel. "It was just one of those nights where I was throwing all my pitches for strikes. The changeup was huge. I had the cutter going, the slider going and a curveball going all on top of good fastball command."
The 6-foot-1 right-hander credited his workouts with Bauer for his improved ability to throw harder this season later into games.
"We just worked on my arm strength, mechanical stuff, getting more athletic movements in my motion," he said. "My velocity has spiked up from last year and my arm doesn't feel fatigued around the sixth inning. I'm still up at 92, not dropping down to 89."
In two starts, Buckel, who features a similar windup to Bauer's, has struck out 16 in 10 innings, while allowing only four hits and three walks for an unblemished 0.00 ERA.
The native of Simi Valley, Calif., said he's been able to stretch out his long-toss routine up to 350 feet comfortably, and even as far out as 400 feet at times. In addition, Bauer has helped Buckel add a more true cut fastball and a slider variant to his arsenal.
Buckel said he models a lot of the other things he does as a pitcher after his good friend.
"Believe it or not, we kind of think alike," he said. "He's a little more sophisticated when it comes to pitching, but he's like my mentor, and he's only a year older than me. He's got the wisdom of many, many years and he's only a 21-year-old kid. He's always got answers for me."
Last year in his first full professional season, Buckel went 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA for Class A Hickory in the South Atlantic League. He struck out 120 batters while walking just 27 in 96 2/3 innings. That kind of command is what he's focused on maintaining this season while assuming a larger workload.
"I just aim to get weak contact, keep at-bats to four pitches or less," he said. "I can't really set any other goals, it's the team that decides what happens to me. All I can do is go out there and perform and hopefully have more nights like this."