Cubs' Archer Saved His Best For Last





CHICAGO—Oh, so this could get even better?

Cubs righthander Chris Archer earned the organization's minor league pitcher of the year award after the 22-year-old combined to go 15-3, 2.34 between high Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.

And that wasn't even Archer at his best.

He said he was pitching even better after an Oct. 11 Team USA victory over Cuba in the Pan American Games qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. He threw six shutout innings and fanned 10 in a 4-1 victory.

"When it was over, I was going over the game and reflecting on my season, and I realized that I saved the best for last," Archer said. "I was throwing my fastball, slider and changeup, and every once in a while a curveball. Command-wise, I do not know how hard I was throwing."

But he knew he was facing some great competition and Archer called that win the biggest game of his career so far.

"Before the game, you know that U.S.-Cuba is the biggest rivalry in international baseball," he said. "These are the best teams in the world, and if you can pitch against these guys, you can pitch against anybody."

"Anybody" means major league hitters, and the Cubs will be giving him a long look in spring training come February.

The Indians selected Archer in the fifth round in 2006 out of Clayton (N.C.) High. He was traded in a New Year's Eve multi-player deal in 2008 that sent popular infielder Mark DeRosa to the Indians.

The Cubs worked on the 6-foot-3, 180-pound hurler's mechanics—especially improving his balance and weight distribution during his delivery—and that helped him enjoy a breakout year. He said he has learned a lot from both organizations.

"The way I would put it, the Indians taught me a lot about the mental side, how to attack hitters," he said. "The Cubs gave me more confidence and helped me with my mechanics. I'm not complacent, it's not where I want to be, because my goal is to be a major league pitcher."

Cubbyhole

• Cubs minor league player of the year Brandon Guyer was hitting .344/.440/.438 in 64 at-bats for Aragua in the Venezuelan League.

• Longtime minor league skipper and coach Mike Quade signed a two-year deal to manage the Cubs. Quade, a former Triple-A Iowa manager, and 2010 Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg were two of the top candidates for the job. Quade was 24-13 as an interim manager after taking over for Lou Piniella for the final six weeks of the season.