AFL Interview Series – Coach Derek Lilliquist

The first of our nine exclusive interviews from the Arizona Fall League is with Derek Lilliquist. Palm Beach's pitching coach is helping the seven Cardinals prospects on hand as a member of the Peoria Saguaros' staff.

A change in the Arizona Fall League rules this year allows an organization that sends a trainer there to also include a coach for the first time. That change opened the door for Palm Beach's pitching coach Derek Lilliquist to become a member of Manager Randy Ready's Peoria Saguaros staff this fall.

Seeking out Lilliquist as the first interview subject upon arriving in Arizona allows us to get an overview of how the AFL season is going for the seven Cardinals prospects competing there. "Lilly" was an especially appropriate choice to receive this assignment by the Cardinals, given four of his former mound charges are among the Saguaros' arms.

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Lilliquist just completed his fifth year with the Cardinals and served as the pitching coach at Palm Beach for the third consecutive season. He was a coach at rookie level Johnson City in 2002. Before joining the Cardinals, Lilliquist was a high school baseball coach at Vero Beach (Fla.) High School from 1998 to 2001.

The former lefthanded starter-turned-reliever spent five-plus years in the Major Leagues, recording 25 victories. In 1992 while with Cleveland, Lilliquist made 71 appearances, going 5-3 with a 1.75 ERA. The next season with Cleveland, he earned 10 saves while recording a 2.25 ERA. He was drafted in 1987 by the Atlanta Braves in the first round (sixth pick overall) of the June free agent draft and spent time in the Major Leagues with Atlanta, San Diego, Cleveland, Boston and Cincinnati, ending his professional career in 1997.

Lilliquist, 40, graduated from Sarasota (Fla.) High School and had an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Georgia where he compiled a 31-12 record with a 3.30 ERA in three years. In 1987 he led Georgia to the SEC title and a first-ever trip to the NCAA College World Series after being named College Pitcher of the Year by Baseball America.

Check back here for the next week and a half, as we share with you the rest of this exclusive interview series. Hear every one of the seven Cardinals players from the AFL in their own words talk about their 2006 and plans for 2007.

Subjects include pitchers Stuart Pomeranz, Eric Haberer, Mike Parisi, Dennis Dove as well as outfielders Amaury Marti and Nick Stavinoha and shortstop Brendan Ryan.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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