Austin Cox walked onto the mound Sunday with a little extra motivation. It showed.Kansas City's No. 22 prospect allowed three hits while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings before Class A Lexington dropped a 4-3 decision to Augusta at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Austin Cox walked onto the mound Sunday with a little extra motivation. It showed.
Kansas City's No. 22 prospect allowed three hits while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings before Class A Lexington dropped a 4-3 decision to Augusta at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
"Honestly, last night with Daniel James, the way he closed the game out [with two one-run frames for the victory], it fired me up and had me ready to go today," Cox said.
The 2018 fifth-round pick worked around back-to-back two-out singles by Diego Rincones and Giants No. 19 prospectJacob Gonzalez in the first inning, striking out Wander Franco to end the threat.
Rincones led off the fourth with another base hit and Gonzalez reached on a fielding error by shortstop Matt Morales to put runners at first and second, but the left-hander escaped again by striking out Franco and Aaron Bond before getting Jeffry Parra to fly to center. He allowed one more baserunner the rest of the way, with Franco getting aboard on a fielding error by third baseman Nathan Eaton to open the seventh.
Gameday box score
Getting into a groove "felt nice," Cox said, but he added maintaining his edge was key to keeping the Jackets off the board.
"It's one of those things where you have to stay on top of it, keeping the plan every inning and not letting your mental focus get lost in the fact that you are pitching good," the 22-year-old said.
Cox lowered his ERA to 3.89. Over 37 innings in his first full Minor League season, he's given up 29 hits and 17 walks while fanning 39. The Mercer product debuted with Rookie Advanced Burlington last summer and held opponents to a .228 average in nine games.
The adjustment to a higher level has been part physical, part mental.
"It's a longer season, so you kind of pace yourself but not take the foot off the gas at the same time, if that makes sense," Cox said. "The hitters are a little more advanced. They don't swing and miss near as much, so you have to have a plan of attack every day or else you are going to go out there and get beat."
In a previous start against the GreenJackets on May 1, Cox allowed four earned runs over 5 1/3 innings. There were a couple of differences in this outing.
"I located my fastball in better today than the last time we faced them and I located my off-speed early in counts for strikes, which I didn't do as well last time," Cox said.
"I came into the season working on throwing my changeup more consistently, locating it better and also throwing inside. I didn't throw inside as well as I had liked to last year in Rookie ball, so this year I have really focused on throwing inside in my pitch sequences and not just relying on hoping that this pitch works. It's more of 'this is the pitch I want, I'm going to get this pitch and I'm going to execute it.'"
Andres Nunez (0-1) pitched a scoreless eighth, then allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in the ninth to take the loss.
Parra belted a go-ahead three-run homer and Franco added an RBI single for Augusta.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.