Throwing the reverse slider that is one of the signature pitches of friend Trevor Bauer, Buckel tossed six shutout innings Monday as the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans edged the Potomac Nationals, 3-2.
After allowing nine baserunners over seven innings in his previous start, the Rangers' No. 10 prospect scattered three hits and one walk while striking out nine. Buckel (4-2) said he tinkered with the reverse slider in Spring Training but had not thrown it in a regular-season game until Monday.
"I threw maybe two or three in a Spring Training outing, some in bullpen sessions," Buckel said. "It was a little inconsistent. I talked to Trevor last night and asked what he did with his pitch, and he gave me more of a description about. ... I used it for the first lefty I faced and got a a strikeout with it, then used it on a second lefty and got another strikeout."
Buckel faced the minimum through 4 1/3 innings, when J.P. Ramirez singled on a line drive to right field. Potomac's Adrian Sanchez had doubled with one out in the third to record the Nationals' first hit of the game, but he was erased moments later when Randolph Oduber grounded into a 5-3 double play.
The 19-year-old right-hander allowed two of his four baserunners in his final frame -- Oduber doubled with one out and Ramirez walked with two outs -- but struck out the other three batters he faced in the inning.
Though Buckel threw what he described as a "really bad warmup," that session nonetheless gave him confidence once the game started.
"It's something that I can't really describe or tell you why," Buckel said. "It just seems to go that way. Maybe it's getting all your bad stuff out before the game and leaving only your good stuff. ... If you have a good bullpen, you say, 'OK, when am I going to start making my mistakes?' The only thing I can do is get better from a bad one."
After his latest outing, Buckel ranks first in the Carolina League with a 1.19 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 60 1/3 frames. The Rangers have not told their 2010 second-round draftee about when he will be moved up, but Buckel still feels he has something to prove every time he toes the mound -- no matter where he is.
"I've got to prove that I can continue having success with the style of pitching I've had," Buckel said. "Right now, I feel pretty confident. I've got to prove I can stay consistent and make sure that if I have a bad outing, I don't make it into two or three bad outings. They like to see how I come back and adjust in the next outing. I felt pretty good with that today."
Vincent DiFazio led the Pelicans offense with a pair of doubles and two runs scored. Reliever Jimmy Reyes made things close in the ninth, allowing one run on two hits, but nonetheless closed the door for his second save of the season.
Potomac starter Robbie Ray (1-2) recorded his first quality start of the year, yielding three runs -- two earned -- over 6 2/3 frames, but was saddled with the loss.