It's only mid-May, but Ariel Jurado has already turned his season around for Double-A Frisco.
The Rangers' third-ranked prospect turned in his third straight dominant outing for his second consecutive victory Monday, allowing four hits and fanning four over 6 2/3 innings in the RoughRiders' 5-0 win over the visiting Midland RockHounds.
It marked the 1,200th career victory for manager Joe Mikulik. His 139 wins with Frisco rank as the third most in franchise history.
Gameday box score
After working his way from Class A Advanced to the Texas League last year for his final eight games, Jurado (3-3) opened 2017 by posting a 6.41 ERA over his first five outings. Following Monday's win, that number decreased to 4.11, and the 21-year-old found his form with his most dangerous pitch.
"I think he's been trusting the sinker more, getting back to what his strength is -- his sinker -- getting extension on it to get the action he wants," Frisco pitching coach Brian Shouse said. "He was throwing it to both sides of the plate, and because of that, his secondary pitches were more efficient, better, more crisp. That's done well for him. His last three were pretty good -- he's given us the chance to win each time.
"In the bullpens and stuff like that, he's been working on staying on top of the ball with the sinker. He's been working on glove side as well as arm side, and letting the ball do the work."
Shouse, a veteran of 10 Major League seasons, has seen significant growth in his right-hander since last year, when he combined to go 8-6 with a 3.66 ERA across two hitter-friendly leagues.
"I think he's understanding himself better in terms of where his outs are and what he's capable of doing, and understanding what hitters are trying to do," he said. "He's growing as far as that, and his maturity and trust in all of his pitches, and that's showing."
Video: Ariel Jurado ends the sixth for the RoughRiders
Jurado allowed a single to leadoff man Brett Vertigan, then retired eight straight. Athletics No. 11 prospect Richie Martin broke the string with a single up the middle in the third. After getting out of the inning, the Panama native dealt three perfect innings.
"He had a good tempo, a good flow going. He was just kind of attacking, getting ahead and forcing them to swing early," Shouse said. "He was able to get quick outs, and that allowed him to get as deep as he did."
Tyler Marincov and Viosergy Rosa broke through with consecutive two-out singles in the seventh to end Jurado's night.
"He was only at 82 pitches, but I didn't want him to have a chance to get a loss there, in case something crazy happened," Shouse explained. "He pitched too well for that. In a different situation, he probably stays in there. He threw 35 secondary pitches, and only four of them were balls. That shows you, things were working for him."
The coaching staff wasn't particularly concerned by any of the four hits Jurado allowed.
"It was soft contact, is what they were. It was more he was trying to elevate a couple times, and he went in and jammed them a little. They were more kind of jam shots than line drives," Shouse said. "The hits [in the seventh] -- one was a broken bat, and the other was a good pitch that [Rosa] was able to kind of muscle over second base. He pitched well, didn't give up any hard hits and executed late in the game."
Shane McCain capped the seventh and worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Reed Garrett retired the side in order in the ninth.
Scott Heineman, the No. 24 Texas prospect, tripled, singled, drove in two and scored once.