Cameron Roegner has a simple philosophy whenever he toes the rubber for the Carolina Mudcats: Compete and win.
It's a mindset that has served the 24-year-old left-hander well in his first season with the Milwaukee Brewers' Class A Advanced affiliate. Roegner has not allowed a run in 22 2/3 consecutive innings and leads the Carolina League with a 0.76 ERA, thanks to recording quick outs and an uncanny ability to attack the strike zone.
"I just enjoy going out and competing every time," Roegner said. "I don't go out trying not to give up any runs and keep my ERA down. I don't want to give up runs, because I want to win. Just being able to go out there and give us a chance every day, I think we're having a lot of fun."
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound southpaw has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the Carolina League this season in large part because of his ability to generate weak contact early in the count, which allows him to pitch deep into his starts. Aside from his April 19 appearance against Buies Creek in which he threw 2 2/3 innings, Roegner has pitched through at least five frames in each of his other seven starts.
He's been able to remain on the mound for extended innings because he stays in the strike zone. The Beloit, Wisconsin, native has thrown 61 percent of his pitches (421 of 689) for strikes this season, though he's not a strikeout pitcher.
Roegner has only recorded 30 strikeouts, but he's issued only 13 walks.
"This year, I haven't been a huge strikeout guy. I've just been trying to get weak contact early in counts and when I do get contact, trying to make sure those aren't extra-base hits and pitches that guys can drive," Roegner said. "Trying to just consistently get weak contact early in counts, and you keep your pitch count down."
Roegner has been able to maintain the success he enjoyed for the better part of his full season with Class A Wisconsin last season. Roegner made 19 appearances with the Timber Rattlers, and he allowed two earned runs or fewer in his final 12 starts.
He got better as the season concluded, surrendering one run or less in his last six starts.
"I think [it was] just consistency, whether that be mechanically, routine," Roegner said. "It's a long season and you don't really know that going into your first year, and just trying to do everything the same way every day so my body feels the same and I can go out and perform and repeat pitches."
Those factors of consistency and repeatability have been keys for adapting to Minor League hitters. The 22nd-round 2016 Draft pick out of Bradley University credits Brewers pitching coordinators and coaches with teaching those fundamentals, enabling him to build on his strengths and improve on any weaknesses in his delivery.
"In general, I think routine is something we talk about a lot in our organization and figuring out something that works for you to get your body prepared," Roegner said, "The pitching coordinators and coaches that I've worked with in the Brewers organization, they've been great, and I feel like they've gotten me to a point where I'm in sync mechanically and I feel good on the mound."
Roegner picked up right where he left off last season to open his stint with the Mudcats by not allowing a run in his first two starts. Since allowing two runs in his May 2 outing at Myrtle Beach, he's made three straight scoreless starts. On the strength of a pair of dominant victories, he picked up the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week award for May 7-13, the first such honor of his career.
"I try and take it day by day and throw strikes," he said. "Baseball is a crazy game, and there's going to be a day when I give up some runs, and that day's going to come and you can't let that bother you either. I'm just trying to enjoy this hot streak while I've got it going."
Heating up at the plate: Frederick center fielder Ryan McKenna went three straight games without a hit, a stretch that was uncharacteristic for the Orioles' No. 29 prospect. He quickly got back on track. McKenna has rattled off hits in nine consecutive games and leads the Carolina League with a .333 batting average and a .420 on-base percentage. The fourth-round selection from the 2015 Draft has recorded five of his 18 multi-hit games during the streak.
A big fan of May: Potomac right fielder Rhett Wiseman didn't see the ball fly out of the park much during the Carolina League's opening month. Once the calendar changed to May, the Nationals' third-round pick from the 2015 Draft found his power stroke. Wiseman has hit six of his league-leading nine home runs since May 2, including a pair of two-homer games on May 10 at Frederick and May 21 against Wilmington. His power surge has coincided with an uptick in his batting average, which has risen 23 points to .286.
Where did this come from? Charles Leblanc has been a doubles type of player since Texas selected him out of Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft. He had 23 doubles in his first two seasons, but only 36 RBIs to show for it. In his first season with Down East, he's been thriving in RBI situations. The third baseman has already set a career high with 34 RBIs, which leads the Carolina League. He has nine multi-RBI games this season.