Over a year passed between the time Bryan Brickhouse was picked in the third round of the 2011 Draft and his professional debut with Rookie-level Idaho Falls.
Now getting his feet wet with Class A Kane County, the Royals prospect is trying to make up for lost time.
In his third Midwest League start, Brickhouse gave up an unearned run on one hit over six innings Tuesday night as the Cougars shut down the Peoria Chiefs, 4-1.
The former Under Armour All-American out of The Woodlands High School in Texas, where he was a teammate of Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon, surrendered seven runs over 1 2/3 innings in his lone Pioneer League start. He joined Kane County last month and allowed four runs on six hits over four innings in back-to-back outings.
On Tuesday, however, Kansas City's No. 16 prospect said he finally found his rhythm.
"I feel like I'm getting into a good routine, starting to learn a lot about pitching at this level," he explained. "The hitters are more patient, they look for their pitch, don't miss as much. They're just better hitters, more well-rounded hitters."
The 20-year-old right-hander, who struck out six and walked one, also said that after spending the beginning of the season in extended spring training, he was excited to begin facing professional hitters.
"It's been way too long since I was pitching in live games," he said. "I've definitely been excited to start, to throw against real competition again."
And after shaking off some rust in his first three starts, he said he was able to show his best stuff on Tuesday.
"I felt like everything was on today, felt like all my pitches were working," he said. "There was definitely a good feel."
In preparing to face Minor League hitters for the first time, Brickhouse (1-0) said he concentrated on improving his secondary offerings at extended spring training. His changeup and curveball are the pitches on which he wanted to focus.
"I felt like [extended spring training] was good for me. It really helped with the fastball command and setting up hitters and all that type of stuff," he said. "I'll keep working on the changeup, get more consistent with my curveball."
He's totaled 15 strikeouts over 14 innings while walking six batters. As a high school senior, he fanned 129 over 72 innings and was named All-Great Houston Pitcher of the Year.
Tuesday's outing nearly halved Brickhouse's ERA in the Midwest League to 5.14 ERA.
Offensively, Julio Aparicio slugged a two-run homer and Michael Antonio also had a pair of RBIs for the Cougars. Jorge Bonifacio went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.