After a rough introduction to pro ball, Mike Foltynewicz came into this season with a desire to prove his worth as a first-rounder. So far, he's doing a pretty good job.
The Astros' No. 6 prospect scattered four hits over six innings Tuesday, earning his South Atlantic League-leading 10th win of the season as the Class A Lexington Legends defeated the Kannapolis Intimidators, 2-0.
The 19th overall pick in 2010 never gave up more than one hit in any inning. He struck out six without issuing a walk and generated seven ground-ball outs.
"I think my outing was pretty good," Foltynewicz said. "I was hitting my spots, and if I got behind, I threw my two-seamer over the plate and let the defense do the work. The defense definitely helped me out tonight."
The effort comes after Foltynewicz turned in arguably his worst two starts of the season back-to-back. He gave up 11 runs -- nine earned -- in those two outings spanning 11 innings, surrendering 13 hits and seven walks.
The 20-year-old right-hander credited an off day, as well as his command of and movement on his pitches.
"I think I was more mentally prepared," Foltynewicz said. "I had the day off there to take a rest. I just felt pretty good today more than I had the past couple starts, going out there and pounding strikes.
"I think most of all, my command was on point and my two-seamer was moving a lot more tonight than it has in previous starts. I think that was why they were hitting the ball on the ground tonight. It was one of my best command nights -- I didn't walk anybody. The last couple starts, I walked quite a few."
On the year, Foltynewicz is now 10-2 with a 2.59 ERA that ranks third in the league. That represents quite a bounceback from his 2011 campaign, in which he went 5-11 with a 4.97 ERA in 26 starts for Lexington.
"It feels really good, especially with last year," said Foltynewicz, whose 15 career wins for Lexington are tied with Mike Nannini's mark for the most in team history. "I had an up-and-down season my first year in pro ball. This year, I wanted to come out and make a statement for myself. Let them know what I'm capable of."
After losing in the opener, Foltynewicz won nine consecutive decisions between April 11 and June 13. He said he made alterations to his delivery before the season and also improved his mental approach.
"We fixed some mechanical stuff in instructs," he said. "I sharpened up the breaking ball and the changeup's night and day really. But that's about it it. I mentally prepare before a game and on those days between starts. [Lexington pitching coach Dave Borkowski and I] talked about it a lot and have worked on the mental game a lot this year."
So how does Foltynewicz keep up his stellar season? Just by taking the ball every fifth day.
"I think I just need to stay healthy," he said. "Just go out there and do what I did tonight. Keep a good mental attitude and the confidence I have right now."