Less than two years ago, Brandon Beachy's own teammates had no idea who he was.
The undrafted free agent out of a small college called Indiana-Wesleyan seemed to come out of nowhere when the Atlanta Braves first called him up from the minor leagues to make a spot start in the heat of a pennant race against the Philadelphia Phillies in September of 2010.
Now Beachy is making a name for himself around Major League Baseball. The 25-year-old right-hander is leading the major leagues with a 1.33 ERA [Earned Run Average].
He pitched the first complete-game shutout of his career on Thursday night in a 7-0 win over the Miami Marlins.
Beachy went undrafted because he spent most of his college career underachieving as a weak-hitting third basemen.
Only when he decided to focus on pitching did Braves scout Gene Kerns discover him playing in a collegiate summer league in Virginia and sign him for only US$20,000 (Dh73,400).
Beachy has been a quick study. He spent only two full seasons in the minors, and now 36 starts into his major-league career he is pitching like he wants to be considered in the upper-echelon of the game.
After struggling to go deep in games last season, he came into 2012 determined to lower his pitch count.
"I've got a purpose behind the pitches I'm throwing now, especially earlier in the count, hoping I can get some quick outs and it's happening," Beachy said.
"I'm not getting the strikeouts I used to get, but I'll take a flyball. As long as it's an out, it's an out."
Beachy set the modern-day Braves franchise record for strikeouts by a rookie last season with 169.
But striking out that many batters required a lot of pitches, and Beachy lasted seven innings only twice in 25 starts.
This season, he has pitched seven or more innings in four out of his eight starts already.
He reached the pinnacle on Thursday night by pitching all nine innings of a five-hit shutout with no walks and six strikeouts, using 122 pitches.
His 1.33 ERA is the third-lowest by an Atlanta Brave through eight starts to begin a season, behind Buzz Capra, who had a 1.06 ERA through eight starts in 1974 and four-time Cy Young award winner Greg Maddux, who had a 1.13 ERA at this point in his record-setting 1994 season.
"He's establishing himself as a front-end starter and that's saying something for the limited amount of experience he has," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.
"He's caught on very quickly. He took his lumps for the first little while of his career, made some adjustments and now you're seeing the fruits of that."
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