Cubs' Flaherty Takes Advantage Of AFL Opportunity





CHICAGO—Infielder Ryan Flaherty used the warmth of Arizona to heat up again.

After hitting well at high Class A Daytona for 108 games, but struggling after his promotion to Double-A Tennessee, Flaherty was using the Arizona Fall League to sharpen his batting eye and get back on track, and it had worked out well for him.

Flaherty, 24, used a red-hot eight-game hitting streak, when he batted .452, to finish up the AFL season batting .268/.362/.305 for Mesa.

During the regular season, Flaherty hit .286/.348/.455 with nine home runs in 420 at-bats for Daytona, but after his promotion he hit .183/.286/.254 with one home run in 71 at-bats for Tennessee.

Flaherty was a supplemental first-round pick in the 2008 draft out of Vanderbilt, a pick the Cubs received as compensation for free agent catcher Jason Kendall. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder hit 14 home runs in his junior season at Vandy, and he had 20 homers for low Class A Peoria in 2009 before dropping to 10 in 2010. But the Cubs liked his approach better.

"He's learned to hit the ball up the middle instead of being a pull guy," farm director Oneri Fleita said. "He's getting his approach down. He's not as jumpy. He's facing better pitching and he's getting a good feel for the strike zone. But using the middle part of the field has been his biggest improvement."

Flaherty played mostly third base this season, and he has also played a lot of shortstop and second base during his tenure with the Cubs. He moved around a lot in Arizona as the Cubs hope to accentuate his versatility.

"He's had a lot of opportunities to play a lot of positions," Fleita said. "He played left field, shortstop, second base, first base . . . He threw a guy out at home plate from left field. That's great that he can get to play different spots against this level of competition, and play well, too."

Cubbyhole

• The Cubs outrighted oft-injured righthander Angel Guzman off the 40-man roster, then re-signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training. He missed the 2010 season with a right shoulder injury.

• Outfielder Brett Jackson, a first-round pick in 2009, developed an ankle infection and was shut down in the Arizona Fall League after going 3-for-12 in four games. Third baseman Josh Vitters and righthander Chris Carpenter represented the organization in the AFL's Rising Stars Game.