J.B. Bukauskas turned in his best performance of 2019 as he continues to turn around his season.
The fifth-ranked Astros prospect recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts over six innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks, in Double-A Corpus Christi's 2-1, 10-inning loss to Arkansas on Wednesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Video: Hooks' Bukauskas fans 10th
"I've been throwing a lot more changeups and cutters," Bukauskas said. "I really started implementing both of those a lot tonight, not just relying on fastball/slider. I think that helped me get some quick outs and then I was able to punch some guys out with those other pitches, which helped a lot."
The only run MLB.com's No. 80 overall prospect gave up was a leadoff homer in the fourth by Evan White. It was the fourth dinger in five games for the Mariners' No. 4 prospect.
Bukauskas retired the first 10 hitters he faced, punching out six. He fanned three in the third, but Joseph Odom reached on a passed ball. The righty got seventh-ranked M's prospect Kyle Lewis swinging in the sixth for the second time for his 10th strikeout, eclipsing his previous high of nine set on April 25 against Northwest Arkansas.
Gameday box score
The 22-year-old lowered his ERA to 5.65 over 51 innings in 12 appearances, including nine starts. Bukauskas has one save in two chances with 61 strikeouts and 34 walks. He also yielded one run over six frames in his last start on June 6 against Amarillo.
"I've been getting a little more confident in all my pitches," he said. "Towards the beginning of the season, I was not mixing as well as I probably could have. I wasn't throwing as many strikes as I needed to, getting behind in some counts."
A 2017 first-round Draft pick, Bukauskas spent time across five levels last season, going 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA and .199 opponents' batting average over 59 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and with Class A Short Season Tri-City, Class A Quad Cities, Class A Advanced Buies Creek and Corpus Christi.
Bukauskas said it was a little difficult getting acclimated to the Texas League, especially when opponents see him a few times during each half-season.
"They can kind of see how you're attacking people," he said. "I had to make some adjustments I wasn't making at the beginning of the season."
2019 MiLB include
The University of North Carolina product said that changing how he sequences pitches and attacks hitters helped him in his last few starts.
"Just keep filling up the strike zone, getting ahead of guys," he added. "I had a good night getting first-pitch strikes. I think that's been really good for me. Keep doing that, keep mixing pitches and keep going forward."
Jordan Cowan gave the Travelers the walk-off win when he singled home Aaron Knapp in the 10th.
Arkansas starter Nabil Crismatt, who leads the Texas League with a 2.59 ERA, gave up a run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts over six innings.