Biloxi Shuckers

Brewers farmhand Trey Supak explains how he has gone from good to elite in Double-A

If you glance down Milwaukee Brewers farmhand Trey Supak’s 2019 stat sheet, you’ll notice only one area where he hasn’t seen a upgrade over a year ago – strikeouts.

The Texas native averaged close to a K an inning throughout much of his six-year pro career, but that number has taken a dip in his second season with the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers. After averaging 8.04 strikeouts per nine innings a year ago, he’s down to 6.25 — the smallest figure of his career.

The explanation for that change is simple. Supak has been more successful in pitching to contact, and that has shown up among the stats that matter most:

His ERA has dropped a full run from last season — 2.91 to 1.91.

His walks per nine innings have shown a dramatic improvement over a year ago — 2.88 to 1.80.

After giving up 7.26 hits per nine innings last season, he is down to 5.82.

He gave up six homers in 86 2/3 innings at Double-A in 2018. This season, he has allowed just two in 85.

After going 6-6 in 16 games at Biloxi in 2018, he’s already at 8-2 after 14 starts.

Supak credits this year’s success to his ability to pound the bottom of the strike zone, but that’s always been the goal for the 23-year-old Texas native.

“Now, it’s finally coming,” he said Monday at MGM Park. “Now, it’s finally executing pitches the way I wanted to.”

A more refined approach on the mound has allowed Supak to regularly hit his marks and limit his WHIP (walks + hits per inning) to 0.85 — by far the best in the Southern League.

“I’m just controlling everything a lot better,” he said. “I’m controlling every pitch I have, my delivery. It’s been really consistent and that’s helped out a lot.”

Supak, who was the starter for the South in the Southern League All-Star Game Tuesday night in Biloxi, has also done a better job of mixing in his offspeed stuff, and that includes a relatively new slider.

“It’s been a combination of a lot of things for me, but I’d say the pitch that has improved the most is the slider,” he said. “I learned it last year as a new pitch and I was kind of feeling around it, and now I feel like it’s kind of a weapon.”

Supak’s best statistical outing of the season came on May 30 in Biloxi when he came within one out of a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Tennessee Smokies. The performance marked his third consecutive scoreless outing.

Supak, who has a fastball that hits 93-94 miles per hour, struck out four and walked none in the one-hitter, but he doesn’t consider the outing his best of the year.

“I thought I threw two or three outings better than that one, but the results weren’t the same,” he said. “I gave up four runs in one outing and pitched pretty well, but the results weren’t the same. Everything was working (in the one-hitter). (Catcher Max McDowell) and I were on the same page. (Every call) he put down was right. It felt like we were almost one step ahead of the batter. That’s why I had a lot of success.”

Nobody has done a better job of working late into games in the Southern League than the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Supak, who leads the league in innings pitched with 85.

With each outing, Supak has improved his chances of getting the call up to Triple-A San Antonio before the end of the season.

“At the start of the season showed I could compete at this level and put up good numbers,” he said. “Ultimately, this not where I want to be. I want to be in the big leagues, but I’ve shown I can compete in this league against elite competition.”

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.