Mota Exceeding Expectations

DAYTONA BEACH – Venezuelan-born Jonathan Mota was 16 years of age when he inked a professional baseball contract in August, 2003. Nearly four years later, the versatile infielder is back in the Florida State League with Class High A Daytona having rebounded from a slow start that began in Spring Training and snowballed on into his first month with Class A Peoria.

Mota's manager in Daytona, Jody Davis, spent half a season working with the 20-year-old infielder a year ago at Peoria on the Midwest League circuit.

Earlier this week, the two were reunited as Mota was one of six new faces to join the Daytona squad as part of a widespread series of roster moves that affected every level of the Cubs' farm system.

Outside of Spring Training, Davis hadn't been paired with Mota in over a year. But Davis followed Mota's progression this season in Peoria and believes that Mota has already exceeded expectations at the plate.

"He's swinging the bat a whole lot better than we thought he would," said Davis. "He's an infielder that can play second, short, or third. As an infielder, we're going to see where it works out the best. Right now, he's looking good at short. He's probably got the best arm of the bunch that I've got here."

Mota split last season between Peoria and Daytona. His defense suffered at times, particularly after being promoted to High A ball for the second half, resulting in 21 errors (all at short) for a .917 fielding percentage.

He has shown modest improvement in the field this season, committing only nine errors in 242 chances prior to joining Daytona.

Now in his fourth season since being signed, Mota has played mostly shortstop and second base (primarily short) in the Cubs' farm system.

"I feel the most comfortable at short and second," admits Mota.

"But I can play anywhere. If I want to be (in the lineup) every day, I'll play whatever position they want me at," he said.

After finishing last season at Daytona following a mid-season promotion from Peoria, Mota was slated to start 2007 back in the Florida State League.

Instead, a bad spring kept him in Peoria, Davis said.

"He made a lot of errors and didn't swing the bat very well," recalls Davis. "I don't know whether (he thought) he had this team made before he even got there or what, but he just didn't have a very good spring."

Mota would take advantage of the extra time in Peoria, raising his batting average a full 20 points from its 2006 form. He hit .277 and shared the team lead with 17 doubles in 67 games before being promoted on Tuesday.

One of the big reasons for his turnaround, Mota says, is that he has changed his approach at the plate this season with the help of Cubs coaches.

"(They) have worked with me to hit the ball up the middle and to right field," the right-handed hitting Mota said. "I'm the kind of hitter that likes to hit to the opposite field, and that has made me more comfortable at the plate."

And Davis has some idea of how Mota will project as a hitter in the long-run.

"We don't project him to have a whole lot of power. He'll probably be a singles and doubles contact guy that can get runners over and play defense. That'll be the biggest thing for him," Davis said.


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