HOUSTON -- Mike Foltynewicz is admittedly more confident and comfortable in his surroundings this year, and now the right-hander is putting up some impressive numbers at Class A Lexington.
Foltynewicz, who was the No. 19 overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of a Minnesota high school, entered Monday's start at Asheville with a 4-1 record and 1.62 ERA in six starts for the Legends. He's allowed 27 hits and 12 walks while striking out 29 in 33 1/3 innings.
"Everything's gone pretty smooth so far, a lot better than last year," Foltynewicz said. "I'm more confident than last year in knowing what to expect. I'm getting more strikeouts than last year, more ground balls, and I'm throwing strikes and getting outs. I'm getting the ball down the strike zone and the defense has been making plays."
Foltynewicz, 20, is in Lexington for the second year in a row. His first full season in professional ball in 2010 was a rough one. He struggled for much of the year with inconsistency, as he tried to adjust to the grind of pitching every fifth day.
"I think last year I was unprepared a little bit," he said. "I didn't know what to expect, but I got better prepared and worked on a lot of little things in instructional league, as well, and came to Spring Training ready to go for a full season. I'm more confident and ready to go at batters."
Working closely with pitching coach Dave Borkowski, Foltynewicz has become more mentally prepared in the minutes leading up to his starts and improved his focus.
"Sometimes, young kids try to do too much and get away from the game plan," Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. "He's settled in, he's pitching with confidence. He's had success, and I think we're reaping the benefits of it right now. We expect him to go out there and string together a good number of quality starts over a period of time."
Foltynewicz throws a two-seam fastball and pitches around 92-94 mph, though he touches 96, and occasionally 97. He's been getting a lot of swings and misses on his changeup, which is about 8-10 mph slower than his fastball and is his second-best pitch. He's tightened up his curveball and is throwing it harder.
"I'm having a pretty good year so far, and I just want to keep that in the back of my mind and stay confident and see where it leads me," Foltynewicz said.