Results tagged ‘ Alvaro Ramirez ’
It’s not everyday that you get an opportunity to talk to the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Chicago Cubs. Oneri Fleita is guy who controls the future of over 150 minor league baseball players yet when you talk to him, he is one of the more down to earth guys you will ever meet.
While Fleita was in Boise, I had a chance to sit down with him and have a one-on-one interview about various topics regarding the Cubs minor league system. The Cubs farm system has begun to yield some great talent with the likes of Andrew Cashner, Geovany Soto, Starlin Castro, and Tyler Colvin. I wanted to figure out how such great talent was produced and hear about some of the new faces that may one day make it to Wrigley Field.
Fleita has served in various roles since he broke into baseball in 1988. He has been a coach, an instructional league manager, a scout, and even a third base coach.
“I coached third base. That was probably one of the highlights of my career in terms of having fun. I certainly was over matched and had no business coaching third base (laughs) but it was a lot of fun,” said Fleita. “I’ve always looked at myself as one of the lucky guys. I don’t know how it all happened, but I have been truly blessed to be around a lot of great people who have opened a door for me to do a lot of things in the game.”
One of the key components that has evolved since Fleita took this position in 2000 has been the development the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues.
“There were definitely huge challenges. I had only scouted one year in the Midwest League and I had only coached three years and managed three years, so I was learning on the job at the time,” said Fleita. “Sandy Johnson, who was with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time, was a mentor to me and gave me a lot of advice on how to form a scouting staff. Little by little we built and signed players and 15 years later, we have had guys like Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol come up and make it.”
One of Fleita’s primary responsibilities is assembling his minor league coordinating staff. From Athletic Trainers to Field Coordinators, Fleita has to make sure his athletes have the best staff to maximize all of their abilities. The process of putting this staff together is one that takes time and a good eye.
“Dave Bialas is my right hand man. He is responsible for all of the instruction and oversees all of our field staff (Mark Riggins, Dave Keller, Franklin Font, etc). We can’t have a weak link in our team because all of the base running, the hitting, and pitching has to be taken care of,” said Fleita. “The criteria for being a part of our team is that we look for good baseball people. Guys that we think fit what we are trying to get accomplished and contribute to winning. At the end of the day you are trying to make decisions that you know that when you go to bed a night, you are doing the very best for the players on the field.”
Coordinating player movements and making sure that each farm team has enough adequate bodies to field a competitive team is a big task for Fleita. Fleita looks for various qualities when promoting a player, all of which vary based on the need.
“All the criteria is different. You want to first of all get to know the players. Some guys are not as confident as others and some kids may have not come from quality programs. With certain guys, you want to let them finish where they are,” said Fleita. “Case in point, look at Ramirez (Alvaro). He has a chance to win a batting title and he is having success. So rather than fool around and let him go somewhere where maybe he can go into a slump and end on a negative, I think you have to heir on the conservative side in that case and let him finish on a high note.”
It is no secret that the Cubs are still chasing after the World Series Title, something they haven’t been able to catch since 1908. Fleita offered his take on what needs to happen for the dream to be realized.
“We better get young players that can get to Chicago and contribute. You look at the Tampa Bay Rays and what they did with that young core of players that got to the bigs,” said Fleita. “You have to be able to develop young players. You look at Castro, Colvin, and Cashner and what they have done. If you get them up there in Wrigley Field and allow them to play and grow together, we hope that they can form that brotherhood and we can ride that float down Michigan Avenue.”
People already know about Castro, Colvin, and Cashner. People also know about emerging prospects in guys like Jay Jackson in Iowa and Josh Vitters in Tennessee. But there are some other prospects people don’t know about who can make an impact for the Cubs and improve those odds of getting that World Series parade on Michigan Avenue.
“Brett Jackson has had a phenomenal year. It’s his first full season and already he is in Double A. Tony Campana is on the same team and he has also had a tremendous year. Our Double A team has played really well,” said Fleita. “The list goes on and on. Christopher Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Trey McNutt, Christopher Carpenter, and Casey Coleman. We feel like we have a huge core group of guys who can not only make it to the big league, but contribute to winning.”
Fleita has accomplished a ton since breaking into baseball in 1988. He has give opportunities to a score of baseball players and has developed many Latin programs that have produced many staples in the Cubs roster. But his ultimate goal is to one day bring that World Series Title home to a city that deserves it.
“I want to be a part of a World Series Championship team. Even if I am the guy who is raking the field during the game, I want to be a part of that team. I want one for the Chicago Cubs because I love the fans and I love the city. The Ricketts family has been wonderful and hopefully we can put everything together and get that championship,” said Fleita.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant
Alright, now that we got that out of the way, there have been
“consistent hitting performances” as of late. We are not using
the other word for fear that the “baseball gods” will be upset and in some
weird way, these impressive “consistent hitting performances” will end
OF/DH Matt Szczur, 2B Pierre LePage, 1B Richard Jones, and OF
Alvaro Ramirez have been showing off some impressive lumber as of late. Szczur
has had a hit in 10 straight games, LePage has had a hit in seven straight
games, and Jones has received a hit and RBI in six straight games. Ramirez has
been extremely impressive, as he has recorded a hit in 16 consecutive games.
The secret to the success? It comes down to good old-fashioned work.
“I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff. Jody Davis and
Ricardo Medina have been pretty laid back about everything. If we have a night
where we didn’t get many hits, they don’t really put a ton of pressure on us.
When you let players relax, that is when they play their best,” said Jones, who
is batting .312 on the season.
The Hawks have been turning it on at the plate as of late,
collecting 10 or more hits in six of their last seven games.
“A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are 30 games into
the season and guys are beginning to feel more comfortable at the plate. The is
a new feel to the team. Guys are beginning to get set in the lineup and their
roles on offense. It’s been great and more wins will come as long as we clean
it up on defense,” said LePage, who is batting .352 on the season.
Szczur has been in several different spots in the lineup, but his
success has not stopped, as he is hitting .386 on the season.
“More or less, I have the same philosophy each time I step up to
the plate. It is a little different in the lead off spot because you usually
have to work the count. I just try to approach every at-bat like it’s my last
and make it a great at-bat,” said Szczur.
With the Hawks offense exploding as of late, the wins have been
there. But like their performances, the team is looking for some consistent
wins as they are locked in a heated battle with the Spokane Indians for first
place in the Northwest League East Division.
To lock up this Division Title, it’s going to take an all around
great game, not just a great night at the plate. But a good night of offense
“Baseball is a crazy
game because any team can win on any given day. To give us our best shot to
win, we have to play a better game defensively. We have to pitch well and not
give up a ton of walks, errors, or hits. If we do that and get timely hits, we
have a good chance to win,” said LePage.
“We just have to show up and battle every day. Whether you are
down by one run or five, we have to battle every day,” said Jones.
“It’s a joy to play for this team because we battle and we don’t
give up, even when we are down. Everybody is going to work hard, regardless of
the situation. We were down 9-3 last night, but we battled through and made a
game out of it,” said Szczur.
If the hitting performances continue and the defense turns the
corner, the Hawks will begin to party like it’s 2006. That was the last season
that the Hawks won a Divisional Title.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant
“If Jeff Fassero finds out you’re giving up home runs to little kids, he may demote you back to Mesa, AZ!!!”
Opening Week is finally here! With all of the talk and preparation, no one can prepare you for the real thing. Hawkstown has been a busy place this week; everything from free Papa Murphy’s pizza, to big purple guys, to Pitcher John Mincone and Humphrey the Hawk having an epic showdown in Wii Baseball. This week has been a whirlwind of events and the funny thing is that we are only two games into 38 home games this season!
Having lived through two Opening Nights, I have to admit that this one paled in comparison to last season’s with the Indianapolis Indians. From the time I came into the office at 8:30 a.m., the office was in a state of organized chaos. From hanging banners and televisions in the Sky Box, to trying to find extra tables and chairs, I had plenty to keep me busy.
Aside from minor glitches (which are bound to happen on any given night), things ran extremely well. The sell out crowd of 3,438 got a great show that included fireworks, plenty of entertainment, and great food from Home Plate Food Services. Even though the Hawks lost to Salem-Keizer 5-2, there were some bright spots on the field. Hawks Relief pitcher Carlos Rojas showed off an impressive curveball that struck out three Volcanoes. Carlos has one of the better curveballs that I have seen and with time, he could find himself working his way up the ladder.
Whether it was the four stolen bases or the back-to-back home runs by the Volcanoes, they prevailed and took the first game of a five game set against the Hawks. After recovering from a long and busy night, we were back at it on Tuesday only this time, we had a little fun with the nice people at the Garden City Library.
Hawks Pitcher John Mincone and local Boise legend Humphrey the Hawk, made an appearance at the Garden City Library yesterday. John read three stories to a plethora of young Hawks fans and Humphrey provided some entertainment, even challenging John to a game of Wii Baseball!
Whether it’s on the Wii or on the mound, John had his pitches working for him as he struck out Humphrey on multiple occasions in rout to a 1-0 victory. But John got plenty of time in as he was challenged by multiple kids and he was even taken deep with a home run by a kid who had to be around five or six years old!
After we had a workout with the kids at library, it was game two of our five game set and needless to say, the bats had more punch than Mr.T in Rocky III. The crowd of around 2,000 watched the Hawks score runs in five consecutive innings in rout to a 6-2 victory. Third baseman Brandon May started it off with an RBI double in 1st inning and from there, the Hawks never looked back. Left fielder Alvaro Ramirez hit a two-run home run and first baseman Richard Jones hit a monster shot over the right field wall in the 3rd.
Last night was also a historic night for designated hitter Chris Huseby (who also spends time as a relief pitcher) and catcher Jeff Vigurs (who earned his first start after being drafted in the 22nd round of this year’s draft). Both guys got their first professional hits in the bottom of the 2nd and Vigurs also managed his first professional RBI and stolen base in the same inning! Vigurs earned the Northwest Dodge Dealers Player of the Game as he went 3-4 with an RBI, R, and SB.
Tonight should be just as exciting and entertaining as last night. Pitcher John Mincone will look for redemption tonight and with an offense that is beginning to find it’s groove, it would be hard to bet against the Hawks. If this home stretch has taught me anything up to this point, always expect the unexpected.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant