After 2 1/2 months in the Texas League, Brady Singer is looking like the pitcher who dominated the Carolina League for two months.
The second-ranked Royals prospect struck out nine over seven innings in his best start at the Double-A level as Northwest Arkansas blanked Arkansas, 3-0, on Wednesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park. He gave up four hits and a walk in his first scoreless outing since May 27.
Singer (4-3) got off to an inauspicious start as he issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first to Mariners No. 28 prospect Donnie Walton, but the free pass served as a wakeup call.
“I was listening to some things this morning about in-game adjustments, that’s part of what I need to work on,” he said. “Today, after that leadoff walk, I [started] making adjustments right in the middle of the game.”
Singer bounced back, sandwiching strikeouts of top M’s prospect Jarred Kelenic and seventh-ranked Cal Raleigh around a groundout by fourth-ranked Evan White to end the inning and kept his mistakes to a minimum the rest of the way.
The right-hander breezed through a 1-2-3 second before allowing singles to Logan Taylor and Walton in the third, but he fanned Nick Thurman, Kelenic and White. He yielded two more singles over the next three frames and came back for the seventh.
With the Naturals clinging to a 1-0 lead, MLB.com’s No. 55 overall prospect needed only 14 pitches to strike out No. 25 prospect Dom Thompson-Williams, Mike Ahmed and Taylor to punctuate his outing.
“I wanted to establish my fastball early,” Singer said. “I’ve been a little wild at times since I got to Double-A. I really wanted my fastball command to be there tonight, and it was.
“My best pitch I had tonight though was obviously my slider. That’s the slider I’ve been looking for all year. … My changeup had good action and I was really pleased with that, too. All three pitches I could manipulate at times and put them where I wanted.”
Pitch location was the difference-maker for Singer, who threw 61 of 91 pitches for strikes. Singer said he views his bumpy start at Double-A as a learning experience.
“I’m going to have the ups and downs, obviously, but the good thing is you learn from the downs,” he said. “Today was good, I feel like I’m going in the right direction. The shutout outing was really good for me to see.”
Singer began his first full professional season with Class A Advanced Wilmington, where he went 5-2 with a 1.87 ERA in 10 starts. He joined the Naturals after throwing 20 scoreless innings in his final three outings for the Blue Rocks but compiled a 4.36 ERA in his first 12 Texas League starts.
“You’re going to struggle, hopefully everybody knows that,” he added. “But the struggle helps you learn a lot of things. … I’ve learned you have to focus every single outing.”
Grant Gavin pitched a hitless eighth and Tyler Zuber worked around a walk in the ninth as Northwest Arkansas ended a six-game skid.
Taylor Featherston staked Singer to a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first. D.J. Burt drew a bases-loaded walk and Nate Esposito added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.