Matched up with seventh-ranked Braves prospectJoey Wentz, Alec Bettinger did not blink.The 23-year-old Brewers prospect delivered seven innings of three-hit ball, struck out 10 and walked one in Double-A Biloxi's 3-1 victory over Mississippi on Saturday at Trustmark Park.
Matched up with seventh-ranked Braves prospectJoey Wentz, Alec Bettinger did not blink.
The 23-year-old Brewers prospect delivered seven innings of three-hit ball, struck out 10 and walked one in Double-A Biloxi's 3-1 victory over Mississippi on Saturday at Trustmark Park.
"All year, I've attacked the hitters," Bettinger said. "For the most part, it's having no fear and just trying to compete. Earlier this year, I think, I got punched in the mouth a few times and let off the gas, but I don't feel that's been the case the last few months."
The right-hander has rebounded after going 0-2 with an 8.34 ERA in April. He's improved with each flip of the calendar, putting up a 2.40 ERA in May, 2.12 in June and 0.69 through two starts this month. After Saturday's gem, he dropped his ERA to a season-low 3.49, having allowed no more than two earned runs in nine of his last 10 starts.
With Wentz on the mound for Mississippi, there could be some anxiety, knowing the highly regarded left-hander is capable of shutting down hitters and thus ramping up the pressure on the opposing pitcher.
"I doubt either of us look at who is the opposing pitcher," Bettinger said matter-of-factly. "I go out and do the best I can, just attack hitters. Who's on the mound isn't what I think about."
Gameday box score
The 2017 10th-round pick did not factor in the decision, but he more than held his own, retiring the first 11 batters before yielding a two-out double in the fourth to Tyler Neslony. He set down eight of nine Braves until 12th-ranked prospect Greyson Jenista and Alejandro Salazar delivered back-to-back singles in the seventh. Bettinger squelched the threat by striking out Luis Valenzuela on three pitches.
"I really don't count down what's going on during the game," he said. "I have a feel if it's a quick inning, if I didn't throw a lot of pitches, but I don't get into the details of how many in a row. I don't think that crosses a pitcher's mind."
Of Valenzuela's at-bat, he added, "It's like trying to get a strikeout -- I don't think about trying to get one. We had a plan for that at-bat and it worked. I wasn't going for the strikeout, I was trying to make good pitches."
The University of Virginia product struck out the side in the second, completing a run of five straight punchouts. With 108 strikeouts, including a career-high 12 on June 7, he's second in the Southern League behind Mississippi's Ian Anderson (113), MLB.com's No. 26 overall prospect. He trails only teammate and Brewers No. 11 prospect Trey Supak in innings pitched and ranks fifth with a 1.05 WHIP.
Bettinger left with a 1-0 lead, but Mississippi tied it in the eighth as Braves No. 4 prospect Drew Waters hit a pinch double and scored on a base hit by Neslony.
The Shuckers answered in the ninth. Cooper Hummel tripled home Jake Gatewood with the go-ahead run and scored on a two-out single by C.J. Hinojosa.
Tyler Spurlin (1-0) picked up the win, yielding one hit with three punchouts in 1 2/3 innings.
Wentz allowed a run on four hits and two walks while striking out 10 over seven innings -- both career highs.
Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB.