Gilmartin pitches six shutout innings

Braves' No. 5 prospect has come a long way in 12 months

Sean Gilmartin has struck out 65 batters in 88 innings. (David Goldman/AP)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | June 17, 2012 6:53 PM ET

Time flies when you're having fun. Sean Gilmartin can't believe how quickly the last 12 months have blown by.

Selected in the first round of the 2011 Draft, Gilmartin wasn't even playing pro ball this time last year. Less than a week after being taken 28th overall by the Braves, he was pitching for the Florida State in the NCAA Super Regionals against Texas A&M.

On Sunday, the Braves' No. 5 prospect gave up three hits and a pair of walks while striking out four over six-plus innings to lead Double-A Mississippi to a 5-0 shutout of the visiting Jacksonville Suns.

Some 900 miles northwest in Omaha, Neb., former teammates and friends at his alma mater defeated Stony Brook, 12-2, at the College World Series.

"It's surreal to think it has been a year because it doesn't seem like it's been that long," said Gilmartin, who threw 61 of 94 pitches for strikes in his 14th start of the season.

"I didn't see the [Florida State game], but I still go back and forth with some of the players. The center fielder, James Ramsey, and I are real close. He just got drafted by the Cardinals in the first round. He's a very positive guy and he influenced me a lot. He's a grinder every single day and he plays the game the right way. He should be very successful."

Sunday's win lowered Gilmartin's ERA to 3.17 and raised his record to 5-6. It was a bounce-back effort for the California native, who surrendered four runs over five innings against Tennessee a week ago.

"In terms of my best starts, I don't know if this one was my best," he said. "I feel like I've been consistent in the first half and today was another one to add to it.

"I feel like I threw the ball pretty well. The command was there and, with the exception of the two walks, it was a good day."

The 22-year-old left-hander got Jake Smolinski to ground into an inning-ending double play to erase Chris Gutierrez's one-out single in the first, then got Kyle Skipworth to hit into another twin killing after Kyle Jensen walked in the second.

After two perfect innings, Gilmartin ran into trouble in the fifth when Shawn Bowman hit a leadoff single and Jensen walked again. But the California native set down the next three batters to strand both runners in scoring position.

"I always go out there with the intention of working quick innings and getting ground balls," said Gilmartin, who induced nine groundouts and no fly balls. "That's what you have your infield for.

"Basically, my thought process was to limit the damage [of the single and walk]. I said to myself that I wasn't going to let them get past second base and I was able to do that. I was able to bear down and make my pitches."

Gilmartin, who throws a curveball, fastball, changeup and slider, rebounded with a 1-2-3 sixth but exited after surrendering a leadoff double to Smolinski in the seventh.

Gilmartin is tied for the Minor League lead with three complete games and ranks sixth in the Southern League with a 3.17 ERA. Since losing his first four decisions of the season, he's 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA.

What's been the secret to his success?

"Just overall consistency with everything," he said. "Throwing all four of my pitches consistently, keeping my arm angle the same throughout my delivery and staying on the same routine. There's a lot of mental preparation and physical preparation. I take that very seriously, that's a big part of my game.

"The day after a start, I do leg workouts in the weight room and the next day I do my bullpen and upper body lifts. The third day after, I give my body a rest and then I throw off the mound on the fourth day."

Chris Jones struck out four and gave up two hits over two innings and Cory Rasmus worked around a walk in the ninth to complete Mississippi's sixth shutout.

Braves No. 6 prospect Joey Terdoslavich led the offense with two hits and two RBIs, while Joe Leonard went 2-for-3 with a run-scoring double.

Jacksonville starter Matthew Neil (1-2) surrendered three runs on six hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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