There was a time not long ago that prognosticators thought Garrett Gould had what it took to tame hitters in the notoriously offensive-minded California League.
That was a little over a year ago and the time since hasn't been kind to the Dodgers prospect. On Saturday, he broke through for his first win of the season, allowing three hits over six innings as Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga blanked San Jose, 6-0.
The 21-year-old right-hander struck out eight hitters and walked none in arguably his best outing since fanning a dozen over six frames on April 28, 2012, when the Quakes crushed the Modesto Nuts, 12-2.
The time in between has been a struggle for Gould (1-2). Selected in the second round of the 2009 Draft, the Kansas native had strong stints in the Pioneer and Midwest leagues in 2010 and 2011, respectively. He entered the 2012 season amid high expectations as MLB.com rated him the 11th-best prospect in Los Angeles' system with a sinker that worked into the mid-90s, a curve and changeup.
Assigned to the California League to start last year, Gould went 5-10 with a 5.75 ERA in 27 games, including 23 starts. His fastball velocity reportedly dipped and he became susceptible to the gopher ball, serving up 19 homers in 130 innings after allowing only eight the season before with Class A Great Lakes.
The Dodgers sent the right-hander back to Rancho Cucamonga to begin this season and, until Saturday, the results were much the same. He'd allowed at least three earned runs in each of his first five starts and entered the contest at San Jose with a 10.53 ERA.
Gould carved up the Giants from the outset. He struck out the first two batters on seven pitches and retired Ryan Cavan on a groundout on the first pitch to end the opening frame. San Jose didn't get a baserunner until Shawn Payne led off the fourth with a bloop single to center but was promptly caught stealing. After Cavan added another soft single later in the inning, Gould got Devin Harris swinging to escape unscathed.
The Giants threatened again in the fifth, with Mac Williamson hitting a leadoff single and making it to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. But Gould struck out Eliezer Zambrano to end the threat. He retired the Giants in order in the sixth, fanning Payne for the second out, and exited with his ERA down to 8.06.
Juan Noriega pitched around a hit in the seventh and Craig Stem finished up with two hitless innings to complete the Quakes' second shutout of the season.
Offensively, Noel Cuevas doubled, singled and drove in three runs for Rancho Cucamonga, while Angelo Songco went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Jake Seiner is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.