Former Palmyra High School standout player Aaron Stone is using the Prospect League this summer to make strides on the mound.

Winning games is always the top priority for any baseball player, but continuing to improve ranks near the top as well.

Former Palmyra High School standout player Aaron Stone is using the Prospect League this summer to accomplish the latter.

The current Quincy University and Quincy Gems hurler is off to a rocky beginning this summer.

Stone earned the win on the mound for the Gems in the home opener back on May 31. But it came after the southpaw blew a save opportunity in the ninth inning.

Thus far, in three appearances for the Gems, Stone has an earned run average north of 10. But he is focused and determined to be better.

“I have struggled early,” the 2015 Palmyra grad admitted. “But I am still working on my stuff and I am going to continue to go other there and give my best and try and get things figured out."

The 6-foot-2-inch pitcher has struggled with his command in the early parts of the season. Stone has issued six free passes in just two innings of work this summer.

But his coach is not too concerned.

“You can tell he is kind of knocking off some cobwebs so-to-speak,” Gems co-coach Adam Hightower pointed out. “But this summer is about continuing to develop and get better so he is ready to go for QU next year.”

After Thursday night’s 9-2 setback to Prospect League West Division leading Springfield, the Gems are 3-6 on the young season.

Stone mentioned the slow start has not discouraged the team.

“We are not off to the start we wanted but we all are still trying to get to know each other right now,” the southpaw said. “Once we get that down, we will start to find each other’s strengths a little bit and things will start to click which will hopefully lead to us getting on a bit of a roll.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Stone was on a team who caught fire after a slow start. Stone’s QU Hawks team won nine of 10 games down the stretch and advanced to the Division II World Series last month. The hurler mentioned it was an experience he will treasure for the rest of his life. But not something he was surprised about.

“That was an unbelievable experience,” Stone said of the Hawks reaching the DII CWS. “I remember talking to some members of the media last year and telling them I felt like we could compete for a national championship this year. We obviously didn’t end it the way we wanted to (two and out), but just to experience it all with my teammates and having my family there was unreal. We definitely made some memories there I won’t forget.”

Before Stone puts back on the Hawks jersey next school year, he hopes to make some more memories with his summer teammates. And although he has struggled out of the gate, he knows what he needs to do to be successful.

“I have been inconsistent throwing strikes this spring and summer so I am just working on my focus, competing in the zone and just want to get out,” the lefty said.

With a more consistent rhythm in the strike zone, Stone will see his role this summer increase, according to Hightower.

“He just has to pound the zone,” the Gems skipper said. “Part of our late inning issues (as staff) has been throwing strikes. So as long as he can pound the zone and work ahead in the count, his number is going to be called.”

Hightower mentioned he can see Stone turning into an innings eater out of the Gems pen, or possibly a left-handed specialist.

Stone mentioned no matter what his role becomes on the team, he will be ready.

“Coming out of the bullpen, you never know when you will be called on,” he explained. “So my pregame routine is the same as it was this spring (with QU). When my number is called I will be ready to help my team however I can. I just want to get outs.”