Thomas Making a Good Impression

DAYTONA BEACH – Tony Thomas' former team may have made it to the College World Series without him this year, but Thomas is making his own waves in the Class High-A Florida State League, where he became an All-Star in his first full season of pro ball.

Thomas was drafted in the third round as the 97th overall pick by the Cubs last year and decided to leave Florida State after his junior year.

"The thing I miss about it is that they got to go to the College World Series and I didn't get to go while I was there," Thomas says. "But I feel like it was a good decision for me to come up early."

Thomas has no regrets about that decision. He has quickly become one of Daytona's best hitters and has batted a solid .280 through 67 games this season. On more than one occasion, he has been a key factor in helping his club win games.

"I think I'm more on track than a lot of people expected me to be," said Thomas. "I'm adjusting well and my confidence is going up every game."

A solid fixture atop the order, he is currently leading his team in at-bats and triples, and he recently hit the team's second inside-the-park home run this season.

But just a month back, Thomas was mired in a slump when he couldn't quite get his offense rolling and was struggling in his at-bats. He hit only .253 in May after previously batting over .300 for much of the first month.

"Tony has been showing a lot of improvement here in the last month," said Cubs manager Jody Davis. "About a month ago, he was in a bit of a struggle and he's turned it around. He's really been swinging the bat well the past couple weeks."

Whereas college seasons have mostly all wound down by now, many players that have been drafted in the past year are faced with fatigue in their first extended seasons as professional baseball players.

"The second half of the season is going to be a big adjustment for most of these guys, because they're used to their season being over by now," Davis explains. "Most of these guys that were drafted went to Peoria or Boise last year, but being down here in this heat, that's really when the adjustment has to come."

Thomas has used the extended season to his advantage and taken his extra at-bats in stride, becoming one of the most productive hitters on the Cubs' team.

With his determination and quick adjustments, Thomas has started to make an impression on the right people, Davis said.

"You can tell he's driven from the inside," said Davis. "Tony's been great. He's done everything we've asked him to and is one of the team's hardest workers."

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At Albuquerque, Jeff Samardzija suffered the loss in his Triple-A debut Tuesday. The right-hander tossed six innings, allowing three runs and seven hits while notching five strikeouts. Red-hot OF Andres Torres again paced the Cubs' (45-34) offense. Torres hit two home runs to extend his hitting streak to 10 consecutive starts.


At Jackson, Tenn., the Smokies (32-45) tallied a season-high 21 hits Tuesday. DH-OF Jake Fox, OF Doug Deeds, INF Nate Spears and catcher Welington Castillo each finished with three hits. INF Matt Craig, making his first start since coming off the disabled list, tied a season-high four hits to raise his average to .366 through 30 games. RHP Esmailin Caridad earned his first victory at Double-A after being promoted from Daytona. Caridad (1-0, 3.27 ERA) allowed three runs in five innings.


At Tampa, RHP Grant Johnson (0-1, 7.50) made his second start with the Cubs (38-38) and gave up four runs and five hits over two innings for the loss Tuesday. INF Russ Canzler picked up two hits and scored the team's only run. Canzler raised his average to .273 through 50 games with his third multi-hit game in the past week.


At Burlington, Iowa, the Chiefs (31-43) got another impressive outing from RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (4-1, 1.22) Tuesday. The 19-year-old Korea native – signed in the Pacific Rim last August – kept opposing hitters in check by allowing one run and two hits in six innings. He tied a season-high seven strikeouts and walked one batter. Catcher Josh Donaldson picked up two hits, including his third extra-base hit in the past two games. He raised his average to .221 for the season and .317 in June.


At Everett, Wash., INF Rebel Ridling continued his hot hitting with a pair of doubles. The Cubs' 25th-round pick from Oklahoma State in this year's draft raised his average to .375 (9-for-24) through his first seven games Tuesday. RHP Bubba O'Donnell (0-1, 1.69), a 34th-round pick from High Point University, took the loss for Boise (3-5) in relief, allowing the game-winning run in his second inning on the hill.


At Mesa, the Cubs (1-2) got their first win of the season. INF Junior Lake, described by Cubs Minor League Field Coordinator Dave Bialas as one of the top young Latin American prospects in the organization, hit his first home run. The Cubs used five pitchers in the win. RHP Julio Pena, making his first U.S. start after spending last season in the Dominican Summer League, allowed one hit over four innings in a no-decision. RHP Manolin De Leon (1-0) got the win with a scoreless inning of relief.


In the Dominican Summer League, INF-OF Alex Mejia extended his hitting streak to seven games and drove in his team-best 16th run of the season Tuesday. He raised his average to .351 and his on-base percentage to .420, having reached base in all but two of 21 games. Three Cubs (15-6) pitchers combined for a three-hitter. RHP Roderik Pichardo (1-2, 5.68) picked up his first win with 3 1/3 innings in relief.


Also in the Dominican Summer League, Cubs2 (10-11) were held to six hits Tuesday. The Cubs used three pitchers, with RHP Eduardo Figueroa (1-4, 6.98) starting and allowing six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings for the loss.

--Combined Reports

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