And That's A Wrap: Daytona

Part two of this week's series of articles profiling the Cubs' full-season minor league affiliates and the season that was 2005.

In Daytona, Richie Zisk's club finished above .500 on the year with a 69-66 mark, but failed to earn a post-season birth. As well as the Cubs' Class High-A affiliate played at times, the up's were often overshadowed by the down's--including the well-documented struggles of top first base prospect Brian Dopirak following his all-star 39-home run, 120-RBI season in 2004 at Class Mid-A Lansing of the Midwest League.

Dopirak, named the Cubs' top prospect by Baseball America entering 2005, hit just .235 with 16 home runs and 67 RBIs in 2005. Automatically considered any club's top power threat, he finished second behind resurgent teammate Scott Moore in both homers and RBIs this season.

Dopirak admitted to getting away from his game early on in the season, which led in some capacity to what was easily a down year at the plate.

"It's all about learning to trust yourself and sticking with one thing instead of trying to do too much," Dopirak said in an interview with Inside The Ivy in August. "At the start of the year … I was pressing a lot, just wanting to do well. I've had to learn the hard way that I can only do so much and that there's only so much I can control."

"It's been more of a learning experiment with me having to deal with adversity and trying to get myself out of slumps," Dopirak added.

The good news, according to the 21-year-old Dopirak, is that he learned more from this season than in his MVP stint with Lansing a year ago. And despite his struggles, Dopirak still finished the year with the third most RBIs for any prospect in the Cubs' farm system--trailing only Moore and Ryan Harvey.

Turning away from Daytona's most recognizable prospect, someone who by and large avoided the regular up's and down's of a full minor league season was Moore.

The former first round (eighth overall) draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2002 put together his finest season yet of pro ball after being traded with RHP Roberto Novoa and OF Bo Flowers for Kyle Farnsworth in February.

Despite a slow start to the second half, Moore batted .281 in 128 games at Daytona. The team's starting third baseman led the club in home runs, RBIs and extra base hits in an all-star season. He finished third overall in the Florida State in extra base hits with 53.

Joining Moore on this year's Florida State League all-star team were teammates Sean Marshall, Randy Wells, Carlos Marmol and Chris Walker.

At age 25, Walker managed perhaps the quietest season of any Cubs prospect in 2005. In addition to showcasing his blazing speed with a league-best 60 steals for the second year in a row, Walker notched a career-high 14 triples, 21 doubles and 97 runs scored while batting .284 atop the Cubs' lineup.

Moreover, the center fielder finished atop the league in many of those same categories and was third overall with 152 hits. The only downside was that Walker struck out 111 times, a bit too hefty by most leadoff hitters' standards.

Pitching-wise, sophomore left-hander J.R. Mathes led the staff with 11 wins, but sported a 4.49 ERA and an opponents average of .300 in 24 starts. Mathes bypassed what figured to be a predictable stint at Peoria this season after spending 2004 with short-season Class-A Boise. He rewarded the Cubs early on by posting a 1.04 ERA in his first four starts at Daytona before struggling in the second half.

Finishing second on the club with 10 wins were Wells and right-hander Juan Mateo. Wells' 2.74 ERA and 106 strikeouts to just 22 walks earned him a promotion to West Tenn in time for the Southern League playoffs. Mateo quietly snuck into the team's rotation in June and went 6-4 with a 3.28 ERA as a starter. Mateo led the Daytona staff with 123 strikeouts in 109.1 innings, walking only 27.

For their parts, Marmol and Marshall seemed a good bet to reach double-digits in wins before promotions - and in the case of the latter, an injury - to West Tenn called them away.

Marmol was 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 13 starts for Daytona prior to his promotion to West Tenn in late June. His 141 strikeouts ended the regular season ranked fourth highest in the Cubs' farm system, while his 3.34 ERA placed him tied with West Tenn's Jae-Kuk Ryu for fourth. Mateo's 3.21 ERA placed third.

Meanwhile, Marshall got off to a blazing start. He boasted a 1.73 ERA in his first nine outings and went on to finish 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 26 walks. The left-hander was promoted to Double-A and had a 2.52 ERA in four starts before bicep tendonitis put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season in July. He plans to begin next year 100 percent healthy and back in Double-A.

Last but certainly not least, there were the catchers.

Entering the year, many wondered how top catching prospects Jake Fox and Tony Richie would both adjust to starting on the same club. The doubts were put to rest quickly as each had above-average stints in their third season since the 2003 draft.

Richie hit .280 and got a few more starts behind plate than did Fox, who batted .281 with better power and RBI numbers than the latter while spending a good amount of time as the team's DH. Both were top five round draft picks that competed at separate levels of the farm system a year ago. (Richie began 2004 in extended spring training while Fox spent the full year at Lansing with catching teammate Alan Rick.)

This season, Fox hit .298 with runners on base and .364 in RISP/2 out situations. Richie, meanwhile, posted numbers of .287 and .321 in those same categories, respectively.

Defensively, Richie committed three errors to Fox's four. The former finished with five passed balls and had a .995 fielding percentage, while Fox was charged with 11 passed balls and had a .992 mark.

With regards to throwing out runners, opposing team's stole 57 bases off Fox while being gunned down 31 times (.035). Opponents managed 63 stolen bases off Richie while being thrown out 36 times (.036).

Palm Beach's Jason Motte had the highest success rate of throwing runners out, allowing just 15 stolen bases in 31 attempts (.052).

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