VISALIA -- Bradin Hagens on the mound uncoils with a slow and uncomplicated windup and seemingly easy release.
And, of course, none of it is as easy as it looks. He has worked hard to perfect that motion.
Hagens, 23, is enjoying what may be a breakthrough season for him in Visalia, the Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the California League.
The former star at Pitman High in Turlock and Merced College was shifted from a reliever to a starter about two months ago, and no one -- the Rawhide or Hagens -- is complaining.
"I'm happy with it either way," Hagens said. "As long as I'm pitching, it doesn't matter to me."
His 88-pitch performance Friday night in Modesto, his ninth since he left the bullpen, illustrated his recent form. He retired the first 11 Nuts, allowed only four hits and one earned run in seven sharp innings. He induced eight ground ball outs and struck out six, leaving the Nuts flailing at times with his high-80s cutter.
That he walked away with a tough no-decision -- Visalia eventually blew a 6-0 lead and lost 7-6 in 10 innings -- did not stall his momentum. In his previous two starts against Stockton and Inland Empire, Hagens yielded no earned runs. With that, he was named the California League Pitcher of the Week.
"He had control of pretty much everything," said Modesto slugger Kyle Parker, who interrupted Hagens' dominance with his solo homer in the sixth. "It was tough for us to put a bat on the ball."
Rawhide manager Jason Hardtke and pitching coach Doug Drabek, the latter the 1990 Cy Young Award winner, believed Hagens needed a change. Hence, the switch to starter.
"He has stayed solid nearly every outing. When his time comes around, we're happy to have him out there," Hardtke said. "Knowing that he has more than one inning to get things done ... I think he feels more relaxed in that role."
Hagens (3-4, 4.24 ERA) and Drabek have spent much of the season smoothing out the young pitcher's delivery.
"I've gotten in the habit of sometimes being a little quick," Hagens said. "I've slowed myself down and gotten into more of a rhythm. I was just staying in the moment (against Modesto) and enjoying it."
The 2009 sixth-round draft pick believes he's making progress.
"It's been fun and a little up-and-down," said Hagens as he summarized his career. "I'm trying to learn more about the game. I'm trying to slow it down, finding a rhythm that works and having fun."