Zac Gallen picked up something in the first inning of his start on Wednesday.
"We kind of noticed early that they might've been sitting on my cutter," he said. "So I was just trying to get ahead with the fastball instead. It seemed like they were taking the first pitches, so I just tried to establish that and go from there."
With that adjustment to his game plan, the Cardinals No. 24 prospect turned in the longest outing of his career with eight scoreless frames in Class A Advanced Palm Beach's 7-1 win over Jupiter at Roger Dean Stadium. He allowed three hits and two walks while striking out six.
Gameday box score
The tell came after the second batter of the game, Angel Reyes, singled on a ground ball to center.
"I had him, 0-1, and threw a pretty good cutter, but he stayed on it and hit it back up the middle," Gallen said. "Usually early in the game, guys are trying to see pitches, so we figured they were seeing it well after a couple of batters and decided to just stay with the fastball."
Roy Morales singled leading off the second and Kyle Barret doubled to left to begin the third against Gallen, but the 2016 third-round pick worked out of both situations with a little help from his defense.
"You always hate getting the leadoff guy on, but I just knew that with my guys behind me, I could get a ground ball or a double play," Gallen said. "I had confidence in them. It usually means the world when you have faith in your guys behind you."
From there, he retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced and finished his night with 100 pitches. It was the second straight scoreless start for Gallen, who shut down Fort Myers for six innings on May 10.
"The thing I've been trying to work on is to get ahead and stay ahead," he said. "Early in the season, I was kind of trying to be too fine. So the last two outings, when I get 0-1, I'm trying to get 0-2 instead of going 1-1. I think that's really benefited me pretty well lately."
The University of North Carolina product skipped Class A after posting a 1.86 ERA over 9 2/3 innings last summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He's answered the challenge with a 4-2 record and 1.47 ERA that ranks second in the Florida State League.
"The biggest thing for me is not to waste pitches," Gallen said. "I try to pitch as deep into games as possible. There are good hitters on all the teams, so you have to have a game plan, which is very similar to college in the [Atlantic Coast Conference]. I know I've got to pitch deep into games, so I'm not necessarily trying to go for the strikeouts but going for early contact instead. And that's been my main goal lately."
Sam Tewes gave up a solo homer to John Silviano in the ninth before closing things out for the Cardinals.
Cardinals No. 15 prospect Randy Arozarena had two hits along with Chris Chinea, Leobaldo Pina and Shane Billings to pace the Palm Beach offense.