First-Round Pick Pleased with Work

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' first-round draft pick this year discusses some of the things he worked on during Instructional League camp.

The 19-year-old Utah high school product made 14 starts during his professional debut season, most of them for the Cubs' Rookie League affiliate in Mesa. He struck out 60, walked 22, and had a 1.98 ERA in 13 starts for the Mesa Cubs. He also threw 13 wild pitches, an average of one per start.

Pawelek, the 20th overall pick who holds the state of Utah's all-time strikeout record for a prep school pitcher, made one start at Class-A Boise toward the end of the regular season and received an invite back to Mesa for "Instructs" beginning in September.

"Basically, they [had] us working on improving our mechanics, and teaching us new pitches and grips," the left-hander said. "They had us do things that will help us progress through the years and help us get ready for the next level."

Whatever the "next level" is to a young pitcher still relatively fresh out of high school, be it the major leagues or just reaching a full-season Class-A team, Pawelek feels confident with his work with the Cubs since the draft. He held opposing hitters to a .170 average in 43 innings with the Mesa Cubs and was named the top prospect in the rumored to be soon extinct Arizona League by Baseball America.

"I felt I did a pretty good job of throwing down here in Arizona and in my one start in Boise," Pawelek said. "I went out and tried to work on the things they told me to work on. I went out and did the best I could and was pretty happy."

What the Cubs told Pawelek to work on was mechanics. "They want me to be more straight up, so to speak," Pawelek said. "There were a few mechanical flaws. When I pitch, I guess I put so much effort into it that I'd lean to the right and tilt off. They wanted me not to tilt so much so I could stay straighter."

By 2006, Pawelek is almost a sure bet to start the year at one of the Cubs' full-season Class-A affiliates, presumably Peoria. Until then, he'll look to stay in shape all the while bulking up his frame.

"I plan to spend a lot of time in the weight room and hopefully gain a few more pounds," the 6'3" 190-pound Pawelek said. "I want to get up to at least 200 pounds."

Asked if Pawelek's dad still paid his son by strikeout or ERA point, Pawelek joked, "Nah, he kind of can't keep up anymore."

Pawelek continued, "He and I always had that going since little league. That's why we did it -- to get me to the big leagues and get me a big league contract. He made me work harder. I owe him a lot."

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