Adam Conley may have had a 5.10 ERA in day games, but that statistic will provide little comfort for the Mobile BayBears.
The Marlins' No. 5 prospect tossed a three-hitter and struck out four en route to his first career shutout Sunday afternoon as Double-A Jacksonville beat Mobile, 8-0, in the opener of a doubleheader.
"I threw a lot of fastballs today. Day games can be tough sometimes with a quick turnaround with the schedule, so I was just trying to establish the fastball and strike zone early, and I never deviated from that," said Conley, who also throws a slider and a changeup.
"[Conley] was dominant today," Suns manager Andy Barkett added. "He showed flashes of the way he was earlier in the season when [batters] just didn't really have a chance."
Conley (8-4) gave up a single in the third inning and a pair of base hits in the fifth but escaped the inning unscathed, thanks to left fielder Daniel Pertusati, who robbed Ender Inciarte of a hit that would have scored two runs.
"Probably the biggest play was by [Pertusati] in left when he dove and caught a line drive for me with two outs and runners on second and third," Conley said. "It kept me rolling and got me out of there when I had runners on."
The 23-year-old left-hander finished strong, fanning three of his final four batters, including the last two. He threw 54 of 88 pitches for strikes, notched his first win since June 19 and lowered his ERA to 3.66.
"[It felt] good, albeit in a seven-inning shutout," Conley said. "It was exciting for me. I tried to focus on the process. I wanted to throw a lot of fastballs and get ahead in the count, and to put them away without using too many pitches."
The 2011 second-round pick was credited with a complete game after going 5 1/3 innings in a rain-shortened loss to Pensacola on July 1. The seven innings match a career high, which he's done twice. Conley said he could feel an uptick in velocity against Mobile, which may have the result of a mechanical change.
"Since signing, we've done some things to clean my mechanics up as far as the consistency and quality of caliber of my pitches when I take the ball every fifth day to start," Conley said. "Now I wouldn't say we're going in the opposite direction, but we're keeping those adjustments in mind and trying to go back to the style of pitching in college I had with a higher leg kick and a more aggressive delivery now that I'm comfortable with the release point of all three of my pitches. We're focusing on incorporating my natural mechanics."
Conley ranks eighth in the Southern League with 87 strikeouts compared to 25 walks over 93 1/3 innings. He also has improved his ERA in each month of the season, from 5.14 in April to 4.39 in May, 2.76 in June and 2.20 in July.
"I think it's just learning, growing up and seeing hitters," he said. "It's not uncommon to see a new face enter and have success in a new level of baseball when nobody really knows how to pitch him or hit him. I've learned through experience, being out there facing hitters and also just watching the game. Every day I watch a nine-inning game or more."
Catcher J.T. Realmuto, Miami's seventh-ranked prospect, hit a grand slam in the third inning to extend the Suns' lead to 7-0. Michael Main collected three singles, Mark Canha hit a solo homer and Audy Ciriaco doubled and tripled in three at-bats.
Jacksonville completed the sweep with a 4-3 victory as Taylor Krick drove in three runs.
Brandon Simes is a contributor to MiLB.com.