Q&A with Jeff Rea

DAYTONA BEACH — New Cubs prospect Jeff Rea didn't expect his first career promotion to take him directly from the Arizona Rookie League to the Class High-A Florida State League. But when you're age 23 and a four-year college senior, the rules can change.

Rea was scooped up by the Cubs in the 18th round of this year's draft and, as many if not most recently drafted prospects do, headed to Mesa, Ariz., for the start of his professional career. He responded by picking up at least one hit in 10 of his 11 games against AZL pitching for a .341 average.

On Monday, Rea was promoted to Daytona where he finished 1-for-3 with a bunt single to third base in his Class A debut against Sarasota.

A lefty hitting infielder throughout his four years in Starkville, Rea batted .372 with the Bulldogs his junior season in 2006 and followed that up with a .343 mark in 59 games this past season.

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Q: You played a lot of second base in college, yet you're listed as an outfielder here on the roster in Daytona. Where do you project yourself as you move through the system?

A: Just in talking to a couple of people, I've found that for your first year, you'd like to do both and get a feel for it (the outfield) just to see where your organization is going to need you. Once I get a couple more years under my belt, I'd like to settle down and find a regular position. Whichever way you move the quickest is the best.

Q: Being a four-year college player and a 23-year-old prospect with a little more experience, what part of your game do you see as being the most polished at this point?

A: It's tough to say now that the game has changed and you're playing against a little better competition. My game is based around being a contact hitter and my speed has always been great for me. If I can stay healthy and put the ball on the ground, it'll work for me. I just have to stay within myself.

Q: With the tools that you already have after four years at MSU, which one do you feel projects best at the major league level?

A: Definitely my speed. In college, I didn't bunt a whole lot and didn't run a whole lot because that just wasn't our game at MSU; not our philosophy. Now, I'm getting the green light a little bit more so I'll be able to really use those tools.

Q: How did playing against the competition in the College World Series really prepare you to play at the professional level?

A: Playing deep into the season and going straight from there into pro ball definitely helped me to keep my timing down and all. Every day with a wooden bat helps me to get better. I played a couple of leagues during my college career, but once you go back to aluminum it is tough to switch to wood. There are some adjustments that you have to make permanent now.

Q: You had a couple of weeks off between the end of your college season and going to Arizona. What kind of "baseball shape" did you think you were in having that time off?

A: I'm good; it was just tough going to Arizona and having to deal with the hot weather there. I'd like to settle down somewhere and be able to get back in the weight room and work hard at getting into great shape.

Q: Were you surprised when they had you skip Peoria (full-season Low-A) and come straight to Daytona?

A: I actually was. We knew there were going to be a couple of moves, but we didn't know what they were going to be. Like you said, with my age being what it is, I've heard you'll move quicker through the system. The older you are, the more they'll give you a chance and if you don't perform then that's it. I think that has a lot to do with it.

Q: What did you work on most while you were out in Mesa? And, what will you work on most through the rest of the summer?

A: I really worked a lot on my bunting. I think I had three or four bunt hits in the 10 games I played there. I only had about that many in the last two years I was in college, so that was really something they wanted me to focus on. As for the rest of the season, I just want to work on trying to stay healthy and playing every day. I want to get some consistency and try not to ride the rollercoaster that much. There are some things that you can't always control, but you can do the little things like running the bases and playing good defense every day.

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