What do pitching and real estate have in common? To be successful in each, it mostly depends on the same thing: location, location, location. For Bowie Baysox right-hander David Hernandez, that axiom couldn't be more appropriate.
Already equipped with an arsenal that includes a two- and four-seam fastball, slider and a major-league changeup, the 23-year-old has taken his game to another level this season by focusing more on the location of his pitches, beginning with his fastball.
"He's shown great command lately," Baysox pitching coach Mike Griffin said. "He's been working on using both sides of the plate and has gotten a lot of swings and misses on his fastball this year."
Those swings and misses have translated to 145 strikeouts this season, good enough to lead the Eastern League. Hernandez, who struck out eight en route to his seventh win Friday, has been especially difficult to hit lately, posting a 1.62 ERA in his past 10 starts.
According to Griffin, Hernandez (7-4) has shown a great deal of maturity on the mound for the Baysox, allowing him to be more consistent with each of his pitches. That, in turn, has led to his ability to get a strikeout when needed in order to avoid a big inning.
In a recent start against Altoona, Hernandez had men on first and third bases with one out in the second inning but struck out the next two batters to end the threat. After surrendering a run in the third, Hernandez found himself in trouble again in the fourth, with runners on first and second and nobody out. He retired the next three batters. On July 2 against Harrisburg, Hernandez walked three and gave up four hits but did not allow a run in 6 1/3 innings. It is these types of performances, Griffin said, that build the mental toughness required to be successful at the major league level, an outcome he believes is in Hernandez's future.
The pitcher also has benefited from being in a rotation that features fellow Eastern League All Stars Brad Bergesen and Jason Berkin. Griffin said the trio has been feeding off each others' performances on the mound all year, motivating Hernandez to put in extra work between starts, another key to long-term success.
"His work ethic has been off the charts [this season]," Griffin said.
Shortstop Luis Hernandez, 24, continues to struggle at the plate, his average dropping to .181 after a recent 0-for-14 stretch. He hit .167 in July. ... Outfielder Jeff Fiorentino, 25, has a nine-game hitting streak. He's batting .481 during that span to raise his average to .285. ... Pitcher Andy Mitchell, 29, earned his team-leading 12th win of the season Saturday, going seven innings and giving up no runs in a 5-0 win over Toledo.
Pitcher Brandon Erbe, who combined with Ryan Ouellette and Fredy Deza to no-hit the Salem Avalanche on Tuesday, suffered his 11th loss of the season Sunday night. The right-hander went seven innings and gave up four runs against Wilmington. The 20-year-old had won three of his previous four decisions after going winless for more than a month. ... Designated hitter Chris Vinyard, 22, hit a pair of home runs Wednesday, giving him 14 for the year, tops on the Keys. He is hitting .290 in August. ... Reliever Ryan Rodriguez, 24, took over the team lead with his 38th appearance and leads all relievers with 61 2/3 innings pitched. He is 4-0 this season.
Pitcher Zachary Britton, 20, has not lost since June 20. In his past six starts, including his turn Thursday that was ended by rain after 1 1/3 innings, the left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA. ... Second baseman Ryan Adams, 21, is currently working on an eight-game hitting streak and is batting .486 (17-for-35) during that time. He leads the Shorebirds with a .317 average. ... Outfielder Joe Nowicki, 25, hit his team-leading 18th home run Wednesday against Lake County.
Catcher Caleb Joseph, 22, has hit safely in 10 of his past 12 games, raising his average to .290. He has six multi-hit games during that stretch. ... Pitcher Pat Egan, 23, went six strong innings against State College on Saturday to earn his second win of the season. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits and struck out seven.