SAN FRANCISCO -- When the D-backs optioned right-hander Max Scherzer to Minor League camp last month, they asked him to focus on improving his secondary pitches and using his fastball on both sides of the plate.
The former No. 1 Draft pick has done just that and the results have been impressive. After two starts for Triple-A Tucson, Scherzer has yet to allow a run, walked two and struck out 18.
Monday, he was named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Week.
"He's been very dominant with multiple pitches," D-backs farm director A.J. Hinch said. "He's done everything we asked him to do when we sent him down."
Scherzer was the 11th overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, but did not begin pitching professionally until June 2007 after finally agreeing to a contract. He started at Class A Visalia, where he was 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in three games before being promoted to Double-A Mobile, where in 14 starts he was 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA.
Given the fact that his fastball seems to tick upwards in speed when he threw in relief during last year's Arizona Fall League, there has been talk that he might be better suited as a closer than a starter.
If his slider and changeup, which is a bit ahead of the slider at this point, continue to improve, though, he could wind up in the big leagues at some point as a starter.
"I think that's the separating factor, how the secondary pitches come along," Hinch said. "When he gets all three of his pitches going you see the results he can get.
If Scherzer keeps up his blistering pace, there will no doubt be some pressure to bring the 23-year-old to the big leagues. Right now, though, the D-backs don't have a pressing need in the rotation.
"It's a luxury for us," Hinch said. "He's still in his first full season of professional pitching. He'll have some adversity at some point, some things that won't go his way and how he's able to bounce back from that will be important."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.