Dopirak Right at Home in Daytona

Brian Dopirak, the top power-hitting prospect in the Cubs' organization, played high school ball at Dunedin High School in Dunedin, Fla., also the home of Cubs prospect Ryan Harvey and General Manager Jim Hendry. As he enters 2005, Dopirak believes he is right at home and that he expects good things to come this season.

"I'm used to it (this climate)," said Dopirak. "I've lived here my whole life and I'm definitely comfortable with it."

Dopirak slugged a Midwest League-best 39 home runs to compliment 120 RBI and a .307 batting average a season ago at Class-A Lansing. He was the league's 2004 MVP and Baseball America's Cubs Prospect of the Year.

"I'm one step higher, certainly," Dopirak said. "I'm in Florida again and I'm enjoying it. I have a great staff I'm working with. (Daytona manager) Richie Zisk played in the big leagues for so long and I have my same instructors from Lansing. I know what works for me. All in all, it should be a good season."

The life of a minor leaguer this time of year can often be hectic. There are new surroundings, often new teammates, and the search for a place to call home when not at the ball field. For Dopirak, it was all about the three C's: cool, calm, and collective.

"It's not too hectic for me," said Dopirak. "The Cubs' owner (Andy Rayburn) got some brochures together for us. He's done what he can and Richie has helped us out tremendously. As a matter of fact, we just signed a lease for a nice place here."

Dopirak is a first baseman by default, but DH'ed quite often at Lansing. He'll be given that same luxury this season in the DH-enabled Florida State League. This year in Spring Training, Dopirak worked tirelessly on his defense at first. He said he tried bending his knees to become more agile around the bag.

"I got a chance to work on a lot of things," Dopirak said. "I got a lot of groundballs and got to work on seeing pitches and basically trying to get my feel back for the season."

He believes his 2005 Daytona team can match every bit of the success of last year's Lansing squad that reached the postseason.

"We've got some new guys I'm teammates with," said Dopirak. "We should have a real solid team."

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