So far this season, Arodys Vizcaino has struggled maintaining his focus and going deep into games. But according to his pitching coach, the 20-year-old Braves prospect brought a new intensity to his start on Friday.
"I kid him about some of his numbers -- I say your numbers aren't matched up with your ability," Lynchburg Hillcats pitching coach Derek Botelho said. "I think it gets him going a little bit. He went out there tonight with a totally different focus, even when he went out to the bullpen to warm up. You could see he was totally focused and concentrated on getting after it tonight. He was on a mission."
Vizcaino allowed two hits over a season-high seven innings on Friday as Class A Advanced Lynchburg rolled to an 8-1 victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
It was the first time in seven outings this year that Vizcaino (2-2) recorded a quality start.
"This is what I've been waiting to see," Botelho said. "He went out there tonight and had three outstanding pitches. He mixed it up pretty good. He [sat] at 94 [mph] tonight and had an outstanding curveball. His changeup was the same way.
"He threw 28 curveballs, 20 for strikes. Great job mixing it up -- he had hitters really out of sync."
The first of Myrtle Beach's two hits off Vizcaino came in the third, when Mitch Hilligoss led off with a ground-ball single up the middle. Four innings later, Jared Bolden ground a leadoff single through the right side.
"One was a curveball that just hung," Botelho said. "He went fastball to get ahead first pitch and just hung a curveball. The other was [another] one of the few he did hang. He had a guy 0-2 and the guy hit it between first and second. There was nothing that was hit solid. Nobody really centered the ball off him tonight at all."
Vizcaino, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Javier Vazquez trade in December 2009, had been dealing with lower back stiffness that forced him to leave a start on April 25. After sitting him out for 10 days, Lynchburg built him back up with a one-inning stint on May 5 and a two-inning start three nights later.
The native of the Dominican Republic threw 43 pitches on May 8, compared to 80 on Friday. Topping out at 97 mph, he lowered his ERA from 4.22 to 3.18.
"This is to me, tonight, just a regular performance for him," Botelho said. "With his ability and talent, this is the type of game you should be able to see from this guy."
Botelho said Vizcaino still has some things to learn, but he's confident the youngster will figure it out.
"He's young, he's still learning how to get hitters out and not relying on ... just blowing people away," the former Major League pitcher said. "Even with his 93, 94 mph fastball, he sits on it, and you can't at this level.
"He's got to learn the pitching process, and that's why he's here. He's got to build off this one and continue learning and getting innings and throwing pitches. Keep maturing and developing. He's got to pitch, and it'll come. He's going to be there."