Schappert Anything but Typical

When Paul Schappert was sent to Class-A Daytona from Double-A West Tennessee earlier this year, it wasn't your typical demotion. And now that he has 19 saves since coming to Daytona, the left-hander is anything but your typical closer.

In terms of the demotion, the Jaxx simply didn't have enough room on their pitching staff for the 24-year-old Schappert, who was 5-0 with a 3.47 ERA in 46 2/3 innings with the team – primarily from relief.

"It came as somewhat of a shock, but I knew it wasn't a performance-based move," Schappert said. "I was what you'd call a victim of circumstance."

Not one to complain, Schappert took the news in style. Since joining Daytona, he has appeared in 26 games from the bullpen, posting a 1.80 ERA and notching 19 saves.

"We allowed him to pitch in a different role," Cubs Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita said. "We wanted to see him pitch in that role.

"It's fit both needs we had," Fleita said, referring to Schappert's role as closer and the need to thaw out pitchers at West Tenn.

Schappert came to the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2004. He went to Southlake Carroll High School near Fort Worth, Texas, and pitched for Texas State University, formerly Southwest Texas State, in college.

Three weeks after the '04 draft, he signed with the Cubs and went to Mesa for the beginning of his pro career in the Arizona Rookie League.

Ironically, in spite of Schappert's early success in the role, he's never saw himself in the closer's spot, nor believes he has the makeup for it.

Prior to the move, Schappert had spent most of his two-plus seasons with the Cubs in long relief, making situational appearances and rare spot starts.

"I definitely don't have the repertoire that a typical closer has," Schappert admits. "I don't feature an above-average fastball that most closers have, but I like the role and feel that mentally it's something I can do from a competition standpoint."

Schappert's arsenal consists of a fastball, a curveball, and a changeup that he says is his "clutch" pitch. He has been toying with a cut fastball that he feels may be more beneficial against right-handed hitters on down the road.

In the meantime, Schappert knows he's not an overpowering pitcher. His fastball has topped out at only 86 mph this season and is on average of 82-85, he says.

"I'm not a strikeout pitcher," said Schappert, who has fanned 42 in 76-plus innings combined this season. "I'll take them if they're there, but I never look for them. I would rather get a guy out on one pitch rather than three."

In 30 innings since joining Daytona back in late June, he has a .187 average against and 21 strikeouts to nine walks.

"He's been a welcome addition," Daytona pitching coach Tom Pratt said of Schappert. "I had him in Peoria a little bit last year. He just throws strikes and changes speeds. He's an intelligent pitcher that studies hitters. He locates his pitches very well."

When asked what he considered more important, pitching at Double-A or getting the opportunity to close games at a lower level, Schappert said he doesn't like to get involved in a game of speculation as far as where the organization sees him.

"I don't really consider one to be more important than the next, so long as they feel I'm doing the job they asked me to do," he said. "I can only control things within my control. If they want me to be a closer in A-ball or in long relief at Double-A, so be it. I just want to fill my role, whatever that is."

That role for now is closer, but it's only natural to see Schappert as a lefty-lefty specialist. Since joining Daytona, he only recently allowed his first hit to a left-handed batter and has a .080 average against versus southpaws.

"I heard that a couple of days ago," Schappert said. "It's something I'd love to continue through the end of the year. I'd like to be able to go up against left- and right-handed hitters equally through the heart of the lineup. I like being in pressure situations, but not yielding a hit to a left-handed hitter is something I enjoy having on my resume."

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