The Quad Cities River Bandits are currently at 7-7, 3.5 games back, in fourth place in the Western Division. The young season has already been plagued by rain and the home field doesn't seem to drain as well as it should so games are being delayed more often than usual. It's difficult for the team to get into a rhythm when they can't count on playing games every day.
Paul Cruz (currently on the DL), Brett Lilley, and Roberto Espinoza are leading the batting average at .375. Chris Swauger, Charlie Cutler, Blake Murphy and Niko Vasquez are the only others above the Mendoza Line so far.
On the mound, Kevin Thomas and Adam Veres remain perfect with a 0.0 ERA on ten and eight innings pitched, respectively. Casey Mulligan has three saves. It's still very difficult to get a good feel of what pitchers are able to do while we are under the tandem start system.
To give you an inside look at one of our players, I talked this week with Chuckie Fick. This is his third and presumably shortest stint in the Quad Cities. He's a talented pitcher who is finding it tough to move up in a farm system that is stacked with talent. He's keeping a positive outlook, though. Here is what we discussed.
Jon: Chuckie, where is home for you?
Chuckie: I'm from Thousand Oaks, CA.
Jon: Where are you in the birth order among your siblings?
Chuckie: I'm the middle child. I have an older sister and a younger brother.
Jon: In your professional development, what are you working on to improve in your game?
Chuckie: I've really spent time working on my change up since last year. The best way to improve is to use what you need so I'm throwing the change up as often as I can. I just have to throw it to make it better.
Jon: Considering the strength of the entire Cardinals' organization, what are you doing to improve your own value and increase your chances at a promotion
Chuckie: I just have to go out there every day and pitch my best game. If I put up good numbers every time I throw, they have to notice me and give me a chance.
Jon: If the Cardinals weren't using the tandem starter system and there was less room for starters in the organization, would you rather start here in the Quad Cities or throw from the bullpen in Palm Beach?
Chuckie: Oh, I'd rather start here. It's better to know that you have a day on the mound than to just wait and hope that you will get in the game.
Jon: Among other guys on the team, which pitcher do you think has the best chance to make it to the Majors?
Chuckie: Gary Daley has some really good stuff. I'd say that he has the most natural talent and will probably be the first one to make it.
Jon: And which position player will get there first?
Chuckie: I'd go with Niko Vasquez on that. He's young and he has a great swing with the bat. That's a tough question, but I'd say Niko.
Jon: I know you pay attention to what your coaches are saying to you and about you. Do you pay any attention to what fans say about you? Do you read any of the forums?
Chuckie: I look at scout.com and futureredbirds.net. I like the "beyond the box score" feature on there.
Jon: Would you rather read that the fans are praising you or do you want to read their critiques?
Chuckie: I like to read praise. Critiques are best when they come from the coaches. I know that part of my job is to entertain the fans so I want to see that they are happy with what I'm doing.
Jon: What do you do off the field during the season to relax away from the game?
Chuckie: I like to eat and just hang out. I play a LOT of video games.
Jon: If baseball had never been invented, what would you be doing for a profession?
Chuckie: I'd be a professional surfer. That's what I do all the time when I'm home. I even surfed on Christmas Day this year.
Jon: Who is your hero?
Chuckie: My mom. She's just the greatest person. She is the one in my life who maintains an even keel and she's always supportive.
Jon: What advice would you give to little leaguers who are coming up behind you who want to become professional baseball players?
Chuckie: I'd tell them first to stay positive; mental attitude is one of the most important things you can have. I'd remind them that practice makes perfect. And I'd tell them not to let their parents put too much pressure on them. They have to keep it fun.
Jon: What was the biggest change in your personal life since you signed your contract?
Chuckie: I've gotten a lot more confident. In high school, I was just part of the crowd and didn't stand out much. Now, I know that I've made it farther into the game of baseball than anyone I went to school with. That makes me feel pretty good.
Jon: What should people know about Chuckie Fick that they might not know otherwise?
Chuckie: I like to keep things light. I'm a goofy person most of the time. I have a good sense of humor. I'm also taking more of a leadership role this year because I've been here before and I can help the new guys find what they need in town.
Jon: Thanks, Chuckie! It's great having you back here for a while this year. I expect you to move up soon.
Note to readers: I'll pay better attention to what I've emailed from here forward! Expect a weekly report!
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