Kevin Ginkel is no stranger to playing in front of big crowds.
The D-backs No. 29 prospect pitched in the College World Series for the Arizona Wildcats back in 2016, coming up just short in the championship series against Coastal Carolina.
When Ginkel was promoted from the Double-A Jackson Generals to the Reno Aces, the bigger ballparks and crowds of the Pacific Coast League did not faze him.
"That was a storybook year -- we were projected to finish ninth in the Pac-12 and somehow we were able to get into the tournament," Ginkel said. "That experience, playing in Omaha and everything, it's helped in my pro career as well. Pitching in front of crowds and getting used to that has been phenomenal."
Ginkel has not been fazed by much since the start of the 2018 season, when he turned around a career that appeared to be in jeopardy when he was demoted from Class A Kane County to Short-Season Hillsboro the season before. Ginkel allowed 11 runs in 6 2 /3 innings with the Cougars.
Knowing he needed help, the former 22nd-round pick reached out.
"Seeing a pitching coach in the offseason, someone away from the D-backs [organization] that I got in touch with, he lives out in Scottsdale," Ginkel said. "Getting healthy, first off, and tweaking my mechanics a little bit, using my legs and my lower half a little bit more. It's just helped with my overall recovery with my arm. I'm able to bounce back from outings really well."
The changes worked as Ginkel went 6-1 with a 1.41 ERA and nine saves across 70 innings of relief between Class A Advanced Visalia and Jackson in 2018. The most impressive numbers on Ginkel's resumé were 100 strikeouts and just 12 walks.
"It's helped my velocity tick up, too," said Ginkel, whose fastball runs up to 96 mph. "I know I've been able to throw hard, and it's always been in there. It was just a matter of finding it again and turning the corner. I haven't looked back now."
This season has been no different. After starting the year 1-2 with a 1.84 ERA and four saves in 12 games with Jackson, Ginkel was promoted to Reno. He was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA and two saves in eight games before being placed on the seven-day injured list on June 1 with an unspecified injury.
Between the two levels Ginkel has 44 strikeouts and just seven walks in 24 2 /3 innings.
2019 MiLB include
"Everything feels really good," he said. "Ever since getting called up here, everything has kind of been the same. I'm sticking to my routine. I'm making sure that I do all the necessary things to make sure I'm ready for the game. When I get that call in the bullpen I make sure I'm mentally checked in and ready to go and make sure I take care of business out here."
Ginkel said he has relished the challenge of attacking hitters in such an offense-driven league.
"I've got no fear going out there," he said. "If I give up a double or I give up a homer, I'm doing my job of throwing strikes. They could have been a better executed pitch, but for me, I can live with that. It's the walks I get a little more frustrated about."
Considering how few walks he has allowed the last two seasons, Ginkel has not had many frustrating days.
Home cooking: It has been a tale of two seasons for Angels No. 8 prospect Matt Thaiss. The Salt Lake first baseman has hit .300/.432/.490 in 29 games at his home field, while struggling to a .214/.297/.351 line in 30 road games.
Back in Sac: After starting this season in Double-A Richmond, Giants No. 11 prospect Chris Shaw has hit his way back to Sacramento with a .288/.368/.500 line and seven home runs in 45 games. The outfielder/first baseman batted .259/.308/.505 with 24 home runs for the River Cats last season and also made his Major League debut, but was sent down a level to start 2019.
Chasing strikes: Royals No. 20 prospect Josh Staumont moved to the bullpen with Omaha last season in the hope that it would improve his command and complete his ascent to Kansas City. Results have been mixed this season as the team has used him eight times as an "opener" and 13 times in a strict relief role, posting a 2.48 ERA and striking out 47 in 32 2 /3 innings, but also walking 26 batters.