Command is the Difference for Cashner

DES MOINES – Andrew Cashner on Saturday retired the first 13 batters he faced en route to earning his third win in as many starts for Triple-A Iowa. The 23-year-old right-hander pitched seven innings while allowing two hits and striking out seven.

"(Saturday) was my second time to go seven (innings)," Cashner said Sunday. "I've had opportunities to go (longer), but we've got a great bullpen here and those guys need work, too."

Cashner was promoted to Iowa earlier this month from Double-A Tennessee, where he was 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings.

Since arriving at Triple-A, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2008 draft and top pitching prospect has gone 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA, striking out 14 batters, all while holding opponents to a .197 batting average. He has six wins already this season and leads the Cubs' farm system with 56 strikeouts.

A key element to his game has been the decrease in the amount of free passes allowed this season. At Tennessee, Cashner posted a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 0.972, and 0.789 at Iowa, as opposed to 2.35 in 2008.

"I've just been working on fastball command since I've signed and I feel like my fastball command has gotten a lot better," Cashner said.

Cashner spent last October with the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League and has worked on becoming more comfortable with his off-speed pitches, too.

Last season, he introduced a circle changeup to his repertoire, which already features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s.

"I feel like I've gotten a good feel for (the changeup) and (Saturday) I threw some good changeups," Cashner said.

Since arriving at Iowa, Cashner said he has had to adjust to throwing off-speed pitches in fastball counts against Triple-A batters.

"Starting guys off with breaking balls, 1-0 breaking balls, 2-0 breaking balls," Cashner said. "I haven't executed that very well yet, but I think that as the season goes on, I'll get better at it."

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