Samardzija's Daytona Debut

Former two-sport collegiate star Jeff Samardzija, the poster child of the Cubs' 2006 draft class, went five innings on the hill for Class A Daytona in his 2007 debut on Friday night against Brevard County in Florida State League action.

The right-hander allowed five hits (all singles) and one run (earned). He struck out one and walked one before receiving a no-decision.

Cubs catching prospect Mark Reed was behind the plate for Samardzija's start Friday and relayed to us what he saw from "the Shark."

"The majority of the time, he was pitching with his fastball," Reed said of Samardzija. "He threw a couple of good sliders, but mainly he just attacked the hitters with fastballs. He came out pretty sharp and threw the ball well."

Reed caught two of Samardzija's starts with Class A Peoria last season, plus several of his outings in Minor League Spring Training this year.

Samardzija, Notre Dame's all-time leader in reception yards who signed a five-year, $10 million major league contract with the Cubs in January at the Cubs Convention, was making his first non-exhibition start in over eight months – since he departed from Peoria and the Midwest League last July en route to South Bend for the start of fall football practice.

On Friday, Samardzija's fastball was consistently shown at 93 mph on the scoreboard at Space Coast Stadium throughout the night, Daytona broadcaster and media relations director Derek Ingram said.

"He never really got hit hard," Ingram said of Samardzija's outing after the game. "There were a lot of little bloop singles. I'd say everybody here is pretty happy with what they saw out of Jeff Samardzija tonight.

"His fastball was really establishing itself tonight. We saw 93 consistently on the board and occasionally 94, but you never know with these readings."

What the Cubs do know is that Brevard County had six hitters – SS Alcides Escobar; RF Lorenzo Cain; LF Cole Gillespie; 3B Matt Gamel; CF Charlie Fermaint; and 1B Chris Errecart – in the lineup against Samardzija that were all ranked by Baseball America as top 20 prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers' farm system entering 2007, and that Samardzija held his own against them.

"His game plan tonight was to trust his fastball and go after guys. He did a good job of that," Reed said.

In spite of Samardzija's efforts, Daytona (1-1) lost in 11 innings, 3-2.


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