Brandon Workman doesn't try to get cute with his pitches when he's ahead in the count -- he just wants to get outs anyway he can. With that philosophy, he put together a pretty attractive pitching line Monday night.
The Red Sox's No. 20 prospect struck out a career-high nine batters and while allowing only one hit and two walks over six innings as Class A Advanced Salem blanked Frederick, 7-0. It marked the first time this season that the 23-year-old fanned nine after last hitting the mark on July 2, 2011 for Class A Greenville.
Workman's strikeout total Monday night gives him 75 through 82 2/3 innings, but the University of Texas product said he never really looks for the punchout.
"I usually try to get quick outs," he acknowledged. "What I want is to get some quick 1-2-3 pitches. So if I'm up 0-2 or 1-2, I just want to make a real quality pitch that will keep the hitter off balance in some way. I'm not necessarily just looking for a strikeout, but strikeouts do come with that."
Among Workman's choices in his arsenal are a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a cutter that has slowly worked its way into the repertoire. However, the 6-foot-4 righty noted he only needed two of those pitches in his latest outing.
"I didn't really use other than my fastball and curveball," he said. "I threw a few cutters to keep them honest, and my changeup did what I wanted it to. But I had such a good mix with the fastball and curveball that I didn't really need much else."
Workman's lone hit allowed came in the second inning when Michael Mosby stroked a single to right field. He surrendered a free pass to Ty Kelly -- the second baseman's second walk of the night -- in the third, but did not allow another Key to reach. The Texas native retired the final 10 batters he faced and delivered perfect frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Drafted in the second round by the Red Sox in 2010, the former Longhorn improved to 7-4 with a 2.94 ERA for Salem, fifth-best in the Carolina League. His 1.02 WHIP is tied for third-lowest in the eight-team circuit.
Those represent improvements over last year's line of 6-7 record with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP that he accrued at Class A. Despite the uptick in competition, and Workman has a simple explanation for the change.
"Overall, my command has been better this year," said the hurler, who has issued two walks or fewer in 14 of his 15 starts in 2012. "I was up in the zone with my fastball at times last year and just wasn't consistent with my curveball. I've kept the fastballs down, though, and have been able to throw them for strikes. I wasn't able to do that as consistently last year."
Thanks to that improved command, Monday marked the fourth time over Workman's 15 starts this season that he has allowed three hits or fewer over at least six shutout innings. That's been the pitching prospect's biggest point of pride, it appears.
"I feel like I'm having a pretty good year. I'm definitely putting together some outings that I can continue to build on," he said.
Travis Shaw was 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs while Michael Almanzar and Christian Vazquez added solo blasts for the Sox .
Kelly finished 0-for-2 to end an 18-game hitting streak.