Little finds his groove for Emeralds

Cubs first-rounder turns in best outing with four shutout innings

Southpaw Brendon Little cut his ERA nearly in half on Friday, from 17.36 to 9.35. (Larry Goren/Four Seam Images)

By Michael Leboff / | August 12, 2017 1:35 AM

After getting roughed up in his first two professional starts, Brendon Little showed what he's capable of on Friday.

The Cubs' No. 5 prospect gave up three hits and a walk while striking out three over four scoreless frames before Class A Short Season Eugene walked off with a 3-2, 10-inning win over Spokane at PK Park.

Gameday box score

"It was much-needed," Little said with a laugh. "It was awesome from a confidence standpoint to see everything I've been working on to come together."

The 21-year-old made his professional debut on July 25 and yielded three runs on three hits and a walk over three innings against Salem-Keizer. He struggled to find his stuff in his next start, surrendering six runs on seven hits while recording five outs against Spokane.

"Definitely not an ideal start but, as corny as it sounds, I'm just trusting the process," Little said. "As soon as I got here, I set up a game plan with pitching coach David Rosario. Even though the outings didn't go well, I was trying some new things out and I've found out what doesn't work so I could make the adjustments going forward."

Video: Eugene's Little gets the K

A leadoff single by Miguel Aparicio wasn't the start Little wanted coming off those two starts, but the southpaw's batterymate, Michael Cruz, picked him up by throwing out Aparicio trying to steal second. That helped Little settle in and the Pennsylvania native retired four in a row before Austin O'Banion reached on a two-out single in the second. He ended the inning two pitches later by getting Kole Enright to fly to right.

Little worked around a two-out walk in the third but faced his first real hurdle when Clayton Middleton hit a two-out double in the fourth and took third on a wild pitch. The 27th overall pick in this year's Draft stranded him by striking out O'Banion on his 55th and final pitch. 

"It's been an adjustment within the game so far," Little said. "All the hitters here have much more advanced approaches, so you need to hit your spots a lot more. It's become a lot more of a precise game rather than before, when I could get away with just stuff. It's definitely been fun to take a step forward."

Little threw only four innings as a freshman at the University of North Carolina before pitching in the Cape Cod League. After a successful stint in the summer circuit, he transferred to the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota and was drafted by the Cubs in June.

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Little left with a 2-0 lead, but the Indians tied it when Kole Enright led off the seventh with his third homer of the season.

Ramsey Romano, the Cubs' 31st-round pick, sent the fans home happy with a two-out RBI single in the 10th.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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