Garrett Davila just couldn't find a good rhythm with his fastball during July, and hitters continually took advantage of his mistake pitches. But Kansas City's No. 28 prospect quickly saw his fortunes change with the calendar.
Davila carried a perfect game into the sixth inning to lead Class A Lexington to a 9-1 win over Hickory on Thursday at L.P. Frans Stadium. The left-hander allowed one hit and two walks while fanning five over six scoreless frames for his first win since June 25.
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"My fastball command was there from the start," Davila said. "I didn't really have my curveball. But, I mean, there were eight righties. So, I just worked fastball and changeup the whole time. My fastball command was really good. With the changeup, I was just able to change speeds when I needed to get the guys.
"I saw the lineup card before the game. [Legends pitching coach Mitch Stetter] gives us a little scouting report on each of the guys. Me and him talked about it, eight righties -- that worked for me. I was able to use my changeup more, which is really my best off-speed pitch."
The 2015 fourth-round pick posted an 0-3 record with a 7.06 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP over 21 1/3 innings in five July starts. Davila worked on getting back to the basics and ahead in the count, which he did with first-pitch strikes to 13 of 20 hitters. He threw 48 of 89 pitches for strikes.
"The fastball command is what I have to get back to, I didn't have it all in July and it showed," the Belmont, North Carolina native said. "[Meibrys] Viloria] did a good job behind the plate. Me and him work together all the time, and we have a pretty good feel for each other. We know what we want to do together. So it's worked out."
Knowing the Crawdads would be aggressive at the plate, the 20-year-old looked to keep the ball low and away to induce weak contact and let his fielders work behind him. Davila recorded nine ground-ball outs and two flyouts. Although he didn't feel he had his best bullpen session before the game, things eventually clicked.
"I got out there and the first pitch of the game the guy swung and got himself out," Davila said. "From then on, I just felt better throwing it over the plate. These guys are an early-swinging team. I just told myself to command the fastball and these guys will be early swingers out a lot of the time."
The strategy worked for the first 17 batters before No. 14 Rangers prospect Anderson Tejeda came to bat with two outs in the sixth. Davila fell behind in the count 3-0 and lost the perfect game with a single to center field on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.
"It's pretty easy to remember it for me because I'm the one out there doing it," the 6-foot-2, 180-pound lefty said. "I knew what was going on. I was pretty upset when he hit the ball back up the middle, but that's a part of it."
After the knock, Davila walked Blaine Prescott and top-ranked Texas prospect Leody Taveras to load the bases before Andretty Cordero struck out looking.
"I didn't work from the stretch the whole game. I threw some pitches from the stretch in the bullpen before the game," the North Carolina high-school product said. "I just had to go up there and tell myself to slow down and lock back in for the last batter. I didn't do it until the last batter, but it didn't cost me a run."
Ofreidy Gomez took over in the seventh and allowed one run on four hits with two strikeouts in three innings for his first save of the season.
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"I wasn't really worried about the win. The team win, I was worried about," Davila said. "But I just try to go out there and win the game for my team every time. In July, it didn't happen, but it's been huge the last couple of outings for me. I feel a lot better. I feel a lot more confident and I'm not worried about what's going to happen all the time."
No. 17 Royals prospect Emmanuel Rivera, No. 20 Marten Gasparini and No. 24 Gabriel Cancel all went deep for the Legends.