Holliman Not Content

An All-Star selection and the best ERA amongst all full-season starting pitchers at the midway point in the season, coupled with a no-hitter to boot, would be enough to keep the majority of young Cubs pitching prospects satisfied.

Is Mark Holliman in that majority? Well, sure.

"I'm definitely satisfied with the success I've had," Holliman said from Pearl, Miss., the site of the 2007 Southern League All-Star Game, on Monday night.

Holliman worked the traditional one inning in his first All-Star appearance Monday. He yielded one hit to three batters faced. The Northern Division All-Stars, which included Holliman, defeated the Southern Division, 7-4.

The right-hander entered the All-Star break with seven wins and a 2.82 ERA through 17 starts this season at Double-A Tennessee.

In three of those starts, Holliman yielded two hits or less.

The highlight of Holliman's first-half success was a June 21 start in which the 23-year-old tossed seven shutout innings in a no-hit bid against the team with the most All-Stars of any Southern League affiliate, the Huntsville Stars.

Yes, Holliman is satisfied.

But content? Not a chance.

"You have to keep going out there and performing every day," Holliman said after the All-Star game. "There's no time in the minor leagues for anything else. You have to keep producing every day."

Holliman has produced most all season. A 2005 third-round draft pick from Ole Miss, he began the year 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA through his first six starts.

Holliman proceeded to stay atop the Southern League leaderboard in ERA throughout most of the first half and he still leads the Cubs' farm system in ERA amongst all full-season minor league starters.

"He's done a nice, consistent job all year," Tennessee manager Pat Listach said. "He's been able to mix in three or four pitches and throw them all for strikes. It's been great watching him come in, get ahead of guys and go to work."

The key to Holliman's success in only his second season of pro ball has been just that: throw strikes, and stay ahead in the count.

When he's done that, Holliman has been impenetrable at times.

"He's used his two-seam fastball a little better than last year. He has an effective changeup and pretty good curveball. He's throwing a lot of strikes," Tennessee pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn said when describing Holliman.

"I think for me, he doesn't have one outstanding major league pitch, per se," Lewallyn added. "But when he mixes four pretty good pitches in there, it makes him an effective pitcher and I think he can pitch in the big leagues with them."

Holliman isn't sure when that will be, but he's received extra incentive having watched former teammates Sean Gallagher and Billy Petrick get the call up to Chicago this season directly from the clubhouse in Eastern Tennessee.

"It definitely motivates you to see guys get moved up, especially guys that you're out there working with every day," said Holliman. "It's a great feeling to know that you're in the company of those guys."

Does he feel he could be the next pitcher from Double-A to make the jump straight up to Chicago?

"It's one of those things you really know you don't have any control over, so you try not to think about it or pay any attention to it," Holliman answers.

"The only thing that I know I can do is just go out and play and keep getting better. Day in and day out, you never know when you're going to get that call to move up. You've just got to keep performing everyday."

Following a day off Tuesday, Holliman expects to do just that when his team opens a five-game series against Mobile beginning Wednesday.

"I'm just trying to stay consistent for the rest of the season," Holliman said of his goals the rest of the way out.

"My first half has been very great and I've been very fortunate. Right now, I'm just hoping to keep that going and finish up strong. Throwing strikes with all of my pitches and being able to locate them all in the zone is what's gotten me to this point now. There's no substitute for throwing strikes."

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