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Pawelek's Punchouts Pay Off

June 7, 2005
By Jeff Vorva

CHICAGO--Talk about a money ball player.

The Cubs first-round pick in the 2005 draft, Mark Pawelek, immediately signed with the Cubs for a $1.75 million deal shortly after he was selected.

But Pawelek is no stranger to working hard for some money. His father, Danny, gave him some financial incentives for strikeouts, victories, ERA and other statistics, and the young lefthander learned well and earned well.

He posted a 36-2 high school record for Springville (Utah) High and set the state record with 476 strikeouts. This year, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound 18-year-old was 10-0, 0.00. He allowed 16 hits, 16 walks and struck out 132 batters in 63 innings.

"When I was 8 years old (my father) told me that 'one day Major League Baseball will draft you for a lot of money,' " Pawelek said. "And he said 'until then, I'm going to pay you for what you do.'

"It was basically a dollar a strikeout. If I walked someone, I owed him three dollars. If I hit someone, he would give me five dollars just because he didn't want me to be scared to throw inside. I kind of had a heyday the last couple of years with the strikeouts."

About those strikeouts . . .

"I get up there and I throw the ball," he said. "I try to be a control pitcher and I have a lot of movement on my pitches. I've been a control pitcher and a strikeout pitcher for as long as I could remember. Basically I was on teams that couldn't make the play in the field so I had to strike everyone out to get out of the inning."

The last high school pitcher to be drafted by the Cubs in the first round was Jon Garland in 1997. The Cubs felt that Pawelek, who is proficient with four pitches including a mid-90s fastball, was worth the investment.

"I saw him once (in person) and several times on film," Cubs scouting director John Stockstill said. "He's a guy we liked coming in. Every time we saw him, he was consistent. Some players are up and down. But every time out, he showed us what we're looking for."

Pawelek is the first Utah prep star to be selected in the opening round since 1976, when the Red Sox took Bruce Hurst.

Pawelek's older brother Dennis was a 40th round pick of the Cubs in 2002 but did not sign and opted to kick for Utah football team.

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