Nick Neidert had allowed at least two runs in every start for Double-A Jacksonville this season. That changed dramatically Thursday night.
The Marlins No. 8 prospect struck out a season-high 11 batters while allowing two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Jumbo Shrimp's 7-3 win over the BayBears at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Gameday box score
"We played a good game, we had a pretty good gameplan," said Neidert. "My catcher Rodrigo Vigil called a great game back there, and we were able to have the plan work and go after them."
Neidert (4-3) gave up a single to Angels No. 19 prospect Brennon Lund to lead off the game. Jose Rojas started off the second with a triple and the right-hander then walked Michael Barash.
The 2015 second-round pick went on to retire 11 straight batters before issuing a free pass to Zach Gibbons in the fifth. Neidert struck out the side -- Connor Justus, Zach Houchins and Riley Unroe -- that inning, then finished his day with punchouts of Rojas and Barash.
The right-hander has increased his strikeouts in each of his last four outings, picking up eight over six frames to win his last start against Montgomery. His 102 pitches Thursday were his highest total this season.
"I'm just working both sides of the plate," he said. "Trying to be more consistent and keep the hitters off balance with the offspeed. I also have a great defense behind me that has let me trust my stuff. That's allowed me to get more swings-and-misses."
Video: Nick Neidert notches 11th K
Neidert accumulated a 1-3 record and a 6.56 ERA over 21 1/3 innings in his first taste of Double-A with Arkansas last year before he was sent to the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade. In 44 1/3 frames this season, he has posted a 3.25 ERA.
"Baseball's the same game no matter where you go," he said. "The experience from learning what I went through last year, I could carry that into this year and it's a big part of this success ... taking what I did well and didn't do well there and carrying it over into this year."
Last season, Neidert walked just 22 batters in a combined 127 2/3 frames between Double-A and Class A Advanced Modesto, and this year has amassed nine free passes in his nine starts.
The fresh start in the Marlins organization allowed Neidert to start with a clean slate even while repeating a level. He's focused on continuing to improve his command and offspeed stuff in the Southern League.
"It's been a lot of fun here, there's a lot of great guys over here," he said. "It's a great place to be. They keep the game a lot of fun. I knew I needed to work on my slider this year and it's become my go-to pitch. Without one of those to put guys away makes it a lot harder, I saw that when I got to Double-A. I have the same mind-set when I go out there to pound the strike zone and keep the hitters off balance. I have the trust my defense is going to make the plays if I just pound the strike zone."
Jose Pena struck out two in 1 1/3 perfect innings of relief and Jeff Kinley allowed three unearned runs in the ninth to close out the game.
Brian Schales provided for the lion's share of Jacksonville's offense with two two-run homers.