On Sunday night, Brandon Woodruff showed guts and resiliency.
His older brother, Blake, died on July 15 from injuries sustained in an ATV accident in northeast Mississippi. Milwaukee's No. 29 prospect went on the temporarily inactive list the following day. His brother was buried Monday and Woodruff returned to action Sunday, taking the ball in the final game of a five-game series at Double-A Pensacola.
The right-hander allowed one hit while striking out nine over six innings in Double-A Biloxi's 1-0 win over Pensacola at Blue Wahoos Stadium. The reigning Southern League Pitcher of the Week also smacked his first career homer, a solo shot to right field, in the third inning for the game's only run.
"He can swing the bat," Biloxi manager Mike Guerrero said of Woodruff, who is hitting .417 in eight games with the Shuckers. "You can tell when someone can hit and he can handle the bat as a pitcher."
Cincinnati's No. 11 prospect Rookie Davis, a hurler for the Blue Wahoos, showed admiration for Woodruff after the game.
Woodruff (5-6) commanded the ball throughout his outing, but he got some assistance from Brett Phillips to cap four perfect innings. Jeff Gelalich ripped a line drive to right field and the Brewers' No. 2 prospect slid to make the play.
But Sebastian Elizalde ended his bid for history by leading off the fifth with a single to left. Woodruff coasted the rest of the way, getting Beau Amaral to bounce out to short to end his night on the hill.
"He had command of all three pitches," Guerrero said. "Fastball, changeup and breaking ball. His fastball command was superb. He was able to go in and out and up and down and he just attacked the strike zone with his plus fastball."
Promoted to Biloxi from Class A Advanced Brevard County on May 15, the Mississippi State University product got off to a slow start and posted a 5.68 ERA in his first eight starts with the Shuckers. He's been on a roll of late as he hasn't allowed an earned run in his last three starts, dropping his ERA to 3.65.
"I believe he's gotten in a rhythm," Guerrero said. "It takes a little time for people to get adjusted to Double-A, but he's starting to feel comfortable. The execution of his secondary stuff has been good.
"Woodruff is a bulldog out there," he added. "What we saw today is how he pitches, with that fire, and he wants to beat you. He has [the stuff] and he's going after you."
Biloxi reliever Stephen Peterson fanned the side in the seventh, and Tristan Archer tossed a scoreless eighth. Stephen Kohlscheen surrendered a hit and struck out two in the ninth to move into fourth in the Southern League with 12 saves.
Pensacola starter Barrett Astin (6-3) gave up just Woodruff's homer over five innings.