Pignatiello Preparing for AFL

For some Cubs minor leaguers, the 2006 season is over. For many others, it's only about to pick back up. Carmen Pignatiello is one of the seven annual Cub prospects to represent the organization in this year's Arizona Fall League, which begins less than a month from now on Oct. 10.

Pignatiello, who turns 24 on Tuesday, spent the majority of 2006 at Double-A West Tennessee with two stops at Triple-A Iowa. He appeared in 38 games for the Diamond Jaxx, going 3-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 60 1/3 innings.

The left-hander will join fellow Cub pitching prospects Lincoln Holdzkom, Grant Johnson, and Clay Rapada in the AFL beginning next month. Jake Fox (catcher), Scott Moore (third base) and Eric Patterson (second base) will represent the Cubs as position players.

For Pignatiello, it's his first trip to the annual post-season event, but he already knows a little about what to expect going in.

"I know it's kind of scheduled," the southpaw said. "You know when you're going to pitch, so I'm looking forward to that aspect of it."

As a member of manager Pat Listach's West Tenn bullpen in '06, Pignatiello appeared in all but one game from relief. He was drafted in 2000 and had previously spent most of his professional career as a starter before the Cubs began to see him as more of a lefty vs. lefty specialist out of the ‘pen.

"He's been tough on lefties, especially in the second half of the season and really longer than that," West Tenn pitching coach Mike Anderson said in early August. "I think this is a good role for him and that he realizes there are more opportunities for him a little later on down the road. He's taken to it and there's a lot of value in that."

Against left-handers, Pignatiello allowed 18 hits to 91 batters faced in 21-plus innings with the Double-A club.

"They wanted me to concentrate on getting left-handers out," Pignatiello re-iterated. "This (the Fall League) will give me more of an opportunity to do just that."

Pignatiello is a noted curveball specialist. His fastball reaches between 88-90 mph on most occasions.

"It's been a pitch that I've used my whole career. I'm very confident in it and will throw it anywhere in the count," Pignatiello said of his curveball. "But what I really need to work on is commanding my fastball a little bit more and using that pitch to get ahead as opposed to throwing my curveball early in the count."

Pignatiello should be back with the Cubs next season. The Hammond, Ind., native signed a minor league contract through 2007 earlier this season. He was previously scheduled to become a six-year minor league free agent.

Listach will manage the Mesa Solar Sox in the Fall League this year. The Sox are home to prospects from the Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, Astros and Twins organizations.

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