Little stands tall for South Bend

Cubs No. 6 prospect yields three hits over seven shutout frames

Brendon Little faced two batters over the minimum during his most recent outing. (Rikk Carlson/South Bend Cubs)

By Michael Avallone / | May 23, 2018 11:04 PM

Brendon Little has found himself in a pattern in which he shines every other outing. He struggled during his previous start on May 17, so Wednesday night's performance wasn't all that surprising.

The sixth-ranked Cubs prospect allowed three hits and struck out five over a career-high seven innings as Class A South Bend edged Lansing, 1-0, at Four Winds Field. After emerging from a pitching duel with Lugnuts starter Zach Logue, Little hasn't allowed an earned run in three of his last five outings to drop his ERA to a season-low 4.50.

Gameday box score

"Everything is starting to come together for me," Little said. "Even during my last start, I felt good through the fifth, but a few pitches got away from me to spoil it a bit. I just take something from each outing and whether the stat line is good or bad, I'm learning and making progress. It's starting to add up." 

In the third inning, Little gave up a single to Andres Sotillo but he was thrown out attempting to steal second by catcher Miguel Amaya, the Cubs No. 10 prospect. Kevin Smith -- the 18th-ranked Blue Jays prospect -- doubled with two outs in the fourth and took third on the play when shortstop Rafael Narea couldn't handle the relay throw from center fielder Chris Singleton. Little retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth and worked around a two-out base hit by Brock Lundquist to complete the scoreless effort.

The 21-year-old has surrendered three unearned runs in four appearances -- three starts -- over 18 2/3 innings. He amassed a 9.35 ERA in his other four starts this season.

"I was getting ahead in counts tonight and pitching inside," Little explained. "Those were two huge keys for me. I was always taught that first-pitch fastball hitters are first-pitch fastball outs and that was the case a lot tonight. But it was fun being in this type of game. I was hoping [Logue] would be the one to make a mistake, and luckily for us, he did in the eighth. But it's fun pitching in games like this. It ups the ante."

Little struggled in his pro debut with Class A Short Season Eugene last year. Selected in the first round of the 2017 Draft out of State College of Florida (Manatee-Sarasota), the southpaw posted a 9.37 ERA in his first six starts. He lowered that number by more than half this season while striking out 32 batters in 36 innings. Opponents are batting .234 against Little after they hit him up him for a .300 clip in 2017.

"I've been a little more consistent and I feel like I'm more on the same page with everything," the Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania native said. "Last year I felt like I was trying to take on a little too much. It was my first season and I was pitching to impress. This year, I've simplified my approach and having a full Spring Training and everything that comes with it has been a really big thing for me this season." 

MiLB include

Ben Hecht (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth and Brian Glowicki worked around a hit and walk in the ninth to record his fifth save.

Amaya provided all the offense with a solo homer to lead off the eighth.

Logue (3-1) was the hard-luck loser after allowing one run over a career-high eight frames. The 22-year-old surrendered three hits while lowering his ERA to 2.67. He didn't issue any walks and struck out four.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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