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Cyr continues dominance in AFL

By Jack Magruder
October 23, 2001

PHOENIX--Peoria lefthander Eric Cyr has never played above Class A, but it must be hard to convince the top prospects in the Arizona Fall League.

Cyr (Padres) has continued a season-long domination of hitters after joining the Fall League. He was 1-0, 0.82 in his first three starts, giving up just six hits and walking four while striking out nine in 11 innings.

For the most part, Cyr's time at Class A Lake Elsinore in the California League this summer also was a day at the beach--he went 7-4, 1.61 with 131 strikeouts in 101 innings, an average of 11.7 whiffs per nine innings. He gave up just 92 baserunners, on 68 hits and 24 walks.

Cyr was assigned to the AFL not only to face tougher hitters but also to get innings. He missed time in May after being arrested by the FBI for allegedly having sex with a 15-year old girl in an airplane bathroom on a flight from Australia to Los Angeles last January.

"It's kind of weird, but I think I've been dealing with it pretty good," said Cyr, 22, a native of Montreal. "I don't want to talk too much about it, but I've been dealing with it. Hopefully it will be over soon."

On the mound, Cyr seems to have maintained his focus. He still pitches in the low 90s with an above-average changeup and a maturing breaking ball.

"He's more of a power pitcher than I thought he was going to be," said Peoria manager Duane Espy, the Padres' big league hitting coach. "He throws in the low 90s and has very good movement. He's located the ball very well, and I've been impressed with his ability to mix in the changeup. It's been very effective against righthanders."

Cyr gave up only one hit in five innings against a all-righthanded Mesa lineup on Oct. 16, throwing just 58 pitches. He threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of 13 batters.

"When I was in (Class) A, I didn't have to think too much about how to pitch," said Cyr, a 30th-round draft-and-follow in 1998 out of Seminole (Okla.) Junior College who signed in 1999. "Just throwing my fastball for strikes. I didn't have much problem out there.

"When I came here . . . it's kind of tough. I need to learn how to really pitch, how to keep hitters off balance. It's just learning how to use your stuff, throwing offspeed when you are behind in the count. You know you have to get ahead of hitters. The fact that you face better hitters, you learn a little more and get ready for the next level."

His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 4-to-1 at Lake Elsinore, a number that more mature pitchers can only hope to achieve.

"Pitching is more muscle memory, so when you get used to things it is easier to throw strikes," Cyr said. "If you can throw strikes, you can be a great pitcher in the big leagues. If you can spot the ball with some movement, it's going to give you a pretty good advantage, too.

"You look at (Tom) Glavine and (Greg) Maddux. They spot the ball where they want to and change speeds. That's pretty much the key to pitching."

Like Glavine, Cyr grew up playing hockey, learning to skate about the time he could walk. Baseball was a summers-only activity until age 17, after he was invited to attend the elite Academy of Baseball in Canada.

"I guess I made the right choice," Cyr said.

FALL GUYS

• Grand Canyon catcher Corky Miller (Reds) threw out all five Peoria baserunners attempting to steal Oct. 15. He caught four runners at second and one at third. Miller threw out six of seven potential basestealers in his first three games. Maryvale's Tim Raines Jr. (Orioles) was the only one to make it.

• Grand Canyon shortstop Gookie Dawkins (Reds) was 20 for 49 in a two-week stretch to raise his batting average to .333. He had two triples, two homers, four stolen bases and a .500 slugging percentage.

• Maryvale outfielder Chad Hermansen (Pirates), who reported late after spending September with the parent club, was batting .450-3-13 in his first 10 games. He had two doubles, two triples and a .825 slugging percentage. Fellow Maryvale outfielder Derek Nicholson (Tigers), a late addition because of an injury, was hitting .450-0-4 with four doubles in his first seven games.

• Phoenix outfielder Ryan Ludwick (Athletics) was moved to the taxi squad because of a back injury and was replaced by Travis Wilson (Braves). Taxi squad players are eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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