He was issuing too many free passes early on during the season. Adrian Houser knew he had to cut down on walking batters.
That’s preciously what he has done during the month of May.
After a five-walk outing at Beloit on May 4, Houser made a concerted effort to keep hitters from receiving free bases. Since that start, Houser has walked four batters in 25 innings of work for the Quad Cities Bandits of the Class A Midwest League.
“Those are definitely two areas that I've worked on pretty hard,” said the former Locust Grove product, while also talking about opponents’ batting average of .243 against him. “After starting this season with a lot of walks, I've just been working on keeping the ball down and keeping all of my pitches over the plate.”
He’s reaped the benefits while doing that.
Houser has gone 4-0 over his last five starts, giving up 20 hits and six earned runs while striking out 21 during that span.
“I would say at this point in the season I've been doing pretty good,” he said. “I got off to a slow start the first month, but have got things going here lately.”
Chalk up his uneasy appearances during April to feeling things out in the Midwest League. In 2013, Houser pitched in the New York-Penn League, and now he’s still in Single-A ball, but it’s a more advanced level of play.
“The Midwest League has been a little different,” said Houser, the 69th overall pick by the Houston Astros during the 2011 first-year player draft. “A few better hitters and overall players here. Definitely a difference in the play here. It's a good experience playing here.”
Even during his adjustment period to baseball in Iowa and surrounding states, Houser has been striking out hitters with regularity. He’s currently third on the Bandits with 40 strikeouts.
And when he’s in need of a strikeout, he turns to his knucklecurve.
“My go-to pitch would either be my two-seam fastball or my knucklecurve,” Houser said. “I get a lot of swing and misses on my two-seam and a lot of groundballs. I usually go to my knucklecurve when I need a swing and miss. It's usually my put-away pitch.”
The knucklecurve is a part of his off-speed repertoire that he’s constantly working on.
“Every day I'm still trying to fine tune my consistency with my off speed,” Houser said. “The more consistent I can get them the better that it will make me as a complete pitcher. I'm working really hard on them.”
As of right now, Houser is still far away from making his debut for the Houston Astros. But a promotion to high-A Lancaster (California) or Double-A Corpus Christi would advance Houser’s career that much further.
But for now, he’s content with pitching for the Bandits.
“I haven't heard anything about future plans, but it's always a goal to move up in the system,” he said. “It would definitely be great to finish the season at one of those two teams (Lancaster and Corpus Christi), but for now I'm just going to focus on pitching and handling what I need to handle. And if I move up, great.”