Matt Magill was confused about the results he produced in his last start. On May 18, the Chattanooga right-hander tied season highs in both strikeouts and walks in a 4-3 loss to Huntsville.
"Six walks but 10 strikeouts," the Dodgers prospect said. "That was kind of baffling."
Magill made sure to leave no doubt Thursday.
The 22-year-old again fanned 10 hitters but did not surrender a walk while allowing two hits through seven shutout innings in the Double-A Lookouts' 4-1 win over Jacksonville.
Magill did not give up a hit until the fourth inning, retiring the first 11 Suns he faced. That beginning gave the California native confidence.
"When you have starts like that, it reminds you that you're able to do this," he said. "It's the reason why you're here. It gives you a little boost."
With the performance, Magill improved to 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA. He is tied for the Southern League lead in strikeouts with 60 through 48 innings. (MLB.com's No. 7 prospect Trevor Bauer also has 60 strikeouts, but is currently with Triple-A Reno.)
But as much Magill was pleased to hit double digits with his strikeout total for the second consecutive start, he seemed more at peace with his ability to eliminate the free passes. Magill, who throws a fastball, changeup and slider, had walked 15 batters in his last three starts (16 innings) and had not gone a start without issuing a walk since April 17, 2011 for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga.
Fortunately for the righty, something seems to have clicked, both mentally and physically.
"It was really command of the fastball," Magill said. "That and missing by inches, not feet. ... It's all about me getting more comfortable as I get more innings here at this level. Over time, I'm becoming able to put the ball where I want to, and I'm getting more confident throwing all three pitches in all counts."
Thanks to Magill's heroics on the hill, the Lookouts won their fifth straight contest and ninth in their last 11. The team's record stands at 24-23, 3.5 games behind Seattle affiliate Jackson in the North Division, but Magill seemed confident his squad will reach the top of the standing soon enough.
"We're on a great roll," he said. "Our hitting and pitching are starting to connect for really the first time, and we're getting some great defense too. We didn't have a great start out of the gate, but come two weeks, we'll be in first place."