For most Minor Leaguers, an effort like Tony Cingrani's on Monday night might represent the highlight of their season. For the young left-hander, it was just "all right."
Following up the best start of his pro career, the Reds' No. 10 prospect struck out nine while allowing two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless frames as the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos blanked the Jacksonville Suns, 2-0.
Cingrani (3-1) issued four walks as he lowered his Southern League ERA to 1.75.
"The off-speed wasn't really there, again," he said. "I just used the fastball and threw a breaking ball there when I needed to. It wasn't too bad."
Cingrani retired the first 10 batters he faced before yielding a one-out single to Paul Gran in the fourth inning. He gave up a single and a walk in the fifth and sixth, then came out after issuing a pair of free passes in the seventh.
Though his secondary pitches were inconsistent at times, the southpaw still tried to use them to keep Jacksonville off balance.
"The changeup's fine," he said. "Against lefties, I threw a couple good sliders and struck them out. It's there, but it's just hit or miss sometimes."
How can he develop the slider into a more reliable pitch?
"Throw it more," said Cingrani, who will turn 23 on Thurday. "That's what I need to do to get to the next level."
He also helped the Blue Wahoos' cause at the plate. Cingrani smacked a single to lead off the sixth, then came home on a double by No. 4 Cincinnati prospect Didi Gregorius to score the game's first run.
Though he did not record a single plate appearance in college, he has tallied three hits in six at-bats with Pensacola.
"I'm pretty awful, but I'm pretty quick, so I get down the line," Cingrani said. "I haven't hit in seven years. ... See it, hit it. I don't want to overcomplicate things. They usually just throw fastballs anyway."
In six outings (36 innings) at Double-A, Cingrani has fanned 47 while limiting opponents to a .190 batting average. He was just as dominant in 10 starts for Class A Advanced Bakersfield, posting a 1.11 ERA and .189 batting average against.
Overall, the product of Rice University leads full-season Minor Leaguers with a 1.36 ERA and ranks second with 118 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings.
"If you make mistakes [in Double-A], they generally hit it. But for the most part, it's about the same," Cingrani said. "They're not as aggressive as they were in High-A, but for the most part, get the fastball in there, get ahead and you'll be pretty successful."