Alec Grosser has had a slider in his repertoire since high school, but he's been blowing opponents away with it this season.
With his strikeout pitch dealing, the Braves prospect allowed one hit over six innings as Rookie-level Rookie Danville shut beat Bristol, 4-0, on Wednesday night at American Legion Field at Dan Daniel Park.
"I felt like I was commanding all my pitches tonight pretty well, I felt confident," Grosser said. "I felt good physically and I felt focused before and during the game. I kept my pitch count low."
The 19-year-old right-hander issued two walks and matched a career high with seven strikeouts.
In the third, Bristol's Nathan Tomaszewski reached second on an error by first baseman Mike Dodig and took third on Enyel Vallejo's sacrifice. Grosser (2-0) continued to throw strikes, fanning Pablo Reyes and retiring Eduardo Figueroa on a groundout.
"I felt like as a starting pitcher, sometimes you give up runs if guys just beat you, but I got the hitter at two strikes and I was able to get him out," Grosser said of Reyes' at-bat. "I didn't have too many three-ball counts until maybe the fifth. I felt like I was able to command my pitches and get ahead."
The 2013 11th-round pick leads the Appalachian League with 33 strikeouts after whiffing seven for the third time in six starts.
"I've been throwing my slider and fastball for strikes. I felt like my slider this summer has been more of a strikeout pitch for me," he said. "I've thrown it since high school. I just feel like I am able to throw it for strikes better now than I did last summer."
The Virginia high school product bounced back from his roughest start of the season after surrendering five runs on five hits over 2 2/3 frames on July 10 at Pulaski. Aside from that outing, he's held Appy League foes to six earned runs over 24 2/3 innings.
"I felt like my last outing, mechanically, I was just all over the place. I felt like I couldn't command my fastball consistently," Grosser said. "So I worked with my pitching coach, threw some bullpens, just working on consistency."
Michael Flores, Kyle Kinman and Bradley Roney each threw a perfect inning, with Flores and Roney both striking out the side.
Like he's done all season, Jordan Edgerton provided support for Grosser. The ninth-round pick in last month's Draft collected three hits, drove in two runs and raised his average to .369.
"It's awesome seeing him hit the ball and drive in runs," Grosser said of the 20-year-old third baseman. "I feel like I'm used to it at this point [because] he's always doing well, always driving in runs."
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.