Vitters Looks For Better Results In AFL





CHICAGO—After a miserable 2010 campaign, Cubs infield prospect Josh Vitters went into the Arizona Fall League hoping to head into the winter on a good note.

The 21-year-old, taken third overall in the 2007 draft, felt pretty good after he went 3-for-6 against Surprise before driving in four runs (including a three-run home run) two days later against Peoria.

After showing promise on the Class A level in recent years, Vitters was promoted to Double-A Tennessee earlier this year and hit .223/.292/.383 with seven homers and 26 RBIs and committed 13 errors at third base in 63 games.

The Cubs brass was patient, figuring he would break out of it. Instead, he broke his left hand in July and was out the rest of the season.

Despite the woes, Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita isn't ready to give up on Vitters.

"Is there such a thing as hitting a tough .223?" Fleita said. "Whatever it may be, he was contributing on a team that was more about winning than stats. This is a game that people always point out the negative and it's our job to point out the positive and the silver lining. It wasn't long ago that Tyler Colvin wasn't walking enough and he was striking out a lot. You know what? He's done a pretty good job now."

The AFL might be a step in boosting Vitters' confidence. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder played third base in the first few games and was expected to see action at first base as well.

Meanwhile, Fleita saw some good in Vitters' regular season.

"He hit into tough luck," Fleita said. "There were some nights he hit some balls right at somebody and it didn't show up (in the box score). He was giving us some quality at-bats and that's what we're looking for. He had to continue to work to get better defensively and that's no secret. We were seeing improvement, He was doing it at a level where he was challenged against some mature players."

Cubbyhole

• Righthander Chris Archer didn't get a decision but he outdueled Bartolo Colon in Team USA's 8-3 victory against the Dominican Republic in the Pan American Games qualifying tournament. Archer threw four innings and left with the lead.

• Triple-A Iowa's Micah Hoffpauir has 378 RBIs, 517 hits and 121 doubles for his I-Cubs career, which are all franchise records. Jason Dubois has 88 career homers, which is second on the team list.