Throughout his professional career, Franklyn Kilome has proven a diligent pupil, and it shows on the mound.
Philly's eighth-ranked prospect allowed a hit and walked two while striking out three over five scoreless innings Monday night as Class A Short Season Williamsport earned a walk-off win over West Virginia, 3-2, in 11 innings at Susquehanna Bank Park.
"He was very aggressive tonight, throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes, and the fastball was down," said Crosscutters pitching coach Les Lancaster. "He mixed in a few curveballs and changeups, but mainly just pitched down in the zone and attacked the hitters and got them swinging.
"Sometimes he'll get into trouble trying to throw too many secondary pitches for first-pitches right now, but his control and his demeanor on the mound was outstanding tonight."
The start was Kilome's longest since July 3. The right-hander missed several outings with a rib-cage strain, and the team had been cautious with him since his return on July 22. Monday marked his longest start since coming back.
"We're building him back up," Lancaster said. "Pitch count, he was fine, but innings-wise … we're just being a little more careful with him.
"He's a very intelligent young man for a 20-year-old, and he's someone that I don't see why he can't make it to the big leagues. He has the desire to learn and can catch on quick."
Kilome bounced back after allowing five runs in his last two starts spanning 6 1/3 innings) and was able to rediscover the touch that helped him limit opponents to one run in his first four outings over 19 2/3 frames.
According to his coach, the 6-foot-6, 175 pound hurler has an advanced feel for pitching, a byproduct of his impressive work ethic.
"He tries to get as much information as he can to make him a better pitcher all the way around," said Lancaster. "He's learning the total of the game.
"He started that last year. He hasn't just turned it on this season. Last year in extended spring training, he wasn't as polished as he was this year. When this Spring Training came around, we definitely saw a new pitcher."
Kilome's attention has turned to honing his secondary pitches -- a curveball and changeup. While his fastball has gained a few ticks since he signed with the Phillies in 2013 at age 17, his complementary pitches have been a work in progress.
"I want him to be able to throw a first-pitch curveball or changeup and then just attack with the fastball," Lancaster explained. "That'll come around. He's still young, getting the mechanics down, and I think that won't be too far away."
The native of the Dominican Republic has already begun working his way up in Philadelphia's rankings, surpassing ninth-ranked prospect Zach Eflin and No. 12 Ben Lively as the No. 3 pitching prospect in the organization. In his first season with Williamsport, Kilome sports a 1.74 ERA while holding opponents to a .182 average over 31 frames. He's struck out 25.
"This is something that we kind of expected," Lancaster said of his protege's rise. "We expected good things out of him, because he has three plus pitches. It's just a matter of learning to control them."
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Crosscutters rallied against Black Bears reliever Julio Eusebio (0-2), tying the game when Carlos Duran scored after second baseman Mitchell Tolman committed a fielding error on a grounder by Zach Coppola that would have ended the game. Two innings later, Williamsport walked off when Jan Hernandez launched a home run to right-center field to lead off the bottom of the 11th.
Crosscutters right-hander Sutter McLoughlin improved to 2-0 by fanning three batters in two perfect innings of relief.
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com.