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Berrios dominant again for Red Wings

Twins' top pitching prospect fans nine in fifth straight quality start
August 9, 2015

When Jose Berrios was promoted to the International League in July, his head wasn't in the right place and the results showed. But ever since he gave himself a pep talk, he's been nothing but dominant.

In his latest gem, the Twins' top pitching prospect struck out nine and scattered five hits over seven innings in Triple-A Rochester's 3-0 blanking of Charlotte on Saturday at BB&T Ballpark.

Berrios (3-1) issued one walk and, for the first time in five starts, did not hit a batter. Twice, he escaped situations with two on and one out.

"In the situation with … men on base, no out, one out, I got to [throw] my better stuff and get the outs. And in the second inning, I had a chance to do that," he said. "I do my approach and make good pitches, good location and make the outs for the team, so I don't [allow] runs in the inning."'s No. 26 overall prospect fanned nine for the second time since joining the Red Wings on July 3 and credits a focus on his windup for being able to overpower opponents.

"I have concentration, I hit my spots with every pitch -- fastball, changeup, curve -- and throw pitches for ground ball, double play, something like that. And if I have two strikes on the guy, I strike him out," Berrios said. "I have to have more concentration on [my windup], don't try to be perfect, but it's a good windup and a good release with my hands. That helps me throw a lot of good pitches in the game."

After going 8-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 15 starts with Double-A Chattanooga, Berrios has lowered his ERA to 3.02 in seven Triple-A starts. That was no easy task, considering the 21-year-old right-hander surrendered 10 runs -- nine earned -- on 14 hits over 10 2/3 innings in his first two outings with the Red Wings.

"Early in the league, the first two starts, my mind wasn't very strong," he said. "But I told myself, 'C'mon, I can do my better work in Triple-A.' I worked with that and that helped me to have five quality starts in a row."

Since that rough start, Berrios has held IL foes to six runs on 24 hits over his last 34 innings.

"It feels pretty good," he said. "My mind is strong, I'm comfortable, it's good. It's a different league but [the] same baseball. I worked on my pitches and my spots. I work with them and I do my work before every start. I'm so close to my dream of the Majors. I have to be humble and keep working every day to make my dream of playing in the Majors."

In the second game of his rehab stint, Twins top prospect Byron Buxton went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He tested his legs by recording a stolen base. 

"That guy is awesome. [He] has everything -- run, throw, bunting, running -- he's a five-tool player. It's fun to watch him play baseball," Berrios said. "He's a good teammate and a good player of baseball."

Charlotte starter Erik Johnson (8-8) gave up three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five over 6 2/3 frames.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.