Platt's Ride to Pro Ball a Rollercoaster

Growing up in the heart of Texas, Charles "Chuckie" Platt was no Fortunate Son. His trek into the realm of pro ball has been filled with battles – both on and off the field.

Platt was selected in the 23rd round of the 2006 draft after graduating from Lamar University – a school that is no stranger to Cubs area scouts.

He pitched in 10 games in the Arizona League in his debut pro season a year ago, posting a 1.65 ERA and limiting opposing hitters to a .186 BAA.

The right-hander, who turns 25 in October, bypassed another year of short-season ball and eventually pitched his way onto the Peoria roster in late April before being moved up to Class High-A Daytona in June.

Platt, who originally began the year in Extended Spring Training in Arizona, would get off to a slow start with his new team after posting a 2.73 ERA in 13 relief appearances spanning 33 innings with Peoria, and he has had to slowly fight his way back from the early struggles in Daytona.

But doing battle is apparently what Platt does best.

"My whole life story, it's pretty dramatic," he admits.

At the age of 10, Platt, a native of Santa Fe, lost his mother to congestive heart failure. Two years later, Platt's father shot and killed his son's stepmother before turning a gun on himself.

Platt, who goes by "Chuckie," went to live with his grandparents before joining Alvin Junior College in Texas after graduating high school.

His grandfather passed away from cancer while Platt was attending Alvin, and Platt could have joined a Division 1 school – as he later did with the Red Raiders in Lubbock – after graduating from Santa Fe High School.

Instead, he chose to remain close to his ailing grandfather.

"It's been an uphill battle my entire life," said Platt.

Platt has had to fight his battles on the field, too.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Platt never threw a pitch in a Texas Tech uniform and would afterward transfer to his third college at Lamar.

With the Red Raiders, Platt and the coaching staff didn't see eye-to-eye.

Specifically, Tech coaches wanted to convert Platt to a submarine delivery while Platt himself preferred to stay over the top.

"I did it (submarine style) for a year and a half and didn't like it at all," Platt recalled. "When I got to Lamar, (head coach Jim) Gilligan said that he'd seen me pitch overhand. He told me he wanted me to come back over the top and that he'd make a prospect out of me."

Daytona pitching coach Rich Bombard agrees that Platt is a prospect and offers high praise for the pitcher who earned a mid-season call-up.

"He's willing to take the ball every day and he's a competitor," Bombard said from his office at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona.

"His first couple of outings, his location was off and he pitched up. But to his credit, he's worked his way back in there and he's pitched down in the zone. He's started to get some confidence and the results have come. He's done a good job for us whenever we've asked him to," added Bombard.

Keeping the ball down has been a constant task for Platt. Upon arriving in Daytona, he yielded six earned runs in his first two outings with the team.

Through 18 appearances with Daytona, Platt has a 5.06 ERA in 26 2/3 innings. But he has settled down with a 3.23 mark over his last 16 outings.

Platt's repertoire consists of a fastball (86-89 mph on most occasions), along with a cutter, a changeup, and a slider. The slider is Platt's self-titled out-pitch, but it's one he's had to tinker with this season.

"Earlier in the year, it was staying flat and I kept getting a lot of pitches fouled off," Platt noted. "Since I got here and started throwing it harder and making adjustments, I've gotten a lot more swings and misses."

Platt has made strides following shaky start with Daytona.
(Photo/Tommy Proctor)

With just over two weeks remaining in the season, Platt feels he has met his goals in his first full season with the Cubs.

"I told myself from the very beginning that I wanted to at least end up in Daytona, if not Double-A," said Platt. "When I was stuck in Extended for the first week or two, it was kind of disappointing, but it was a lot more motivational to work out and move up."

Platt also does not feel lost in the system amid so many relievers.

"There are some guys with great stuff, probably a lot more stuff than me," he said. "But my goal every time I step on the mound is to give it everything I have and not leave (anything) back. Some people have great stuff and have trouble commanding it. I don't have electric stuff, but I give it all I have."

Said Bombard: "What he's shown here, when he gets ahead of his fastball and locates that, it's basically what he goes with. When we were playing Jupiter (in late July), he threw a couple of decent sliders that went down and had some depth to them. He's basically fastball-slider. He will throw a changeup to lefties occasionally, but he pitches off his fastball.

"He's not overpowering. He has to get ahead, pitch down and stay out of the middle of the plate," Bombard added.

All things considered, the ups and downs that Platt has encountered at Daytona are relatively small potatoes compared to what he's had to battle through in the grand scheme of things.

And even if there are guys with "a lot more stuff" and more prospect hype than Platt, that's fine with him.

He is certainly no stranger to being an underdog.

"My back's been against the wall my whole life," he said.

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