Canzler Swinging a Hot Bat

DAYTONA BEACH — Russ Canzler was drafted out of high school in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania, but he's been doing big things recently at Class High-A Daytona, coming off an eight-game hitting streak and batting .341 in the month of July.

Canzler, 22, is batting .267 with five home runs, 15 doubles and 39 RBIs through 68 games this season, and is 12-for-34 over his last 10 contests.

Since INF Blake Lalli was promoted to Class AA Tennessee earlier this month, the first baseman has gotten more playing time and at-bats.

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself," Canzler said. "It was tough when I wasn't playing everyday, but my parents came into town about a week and a half ago and my dad gave me a pep talk. It always helps when you have family in town."

"I think playing more has a lot to do with (Canzler's hot hitting)," said Daytona manager Jody Davis. "He was splitting playing time before, and now he has the chance for more at-bats and he's been successful."

Canzler was selected by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 2004 draft from Hazleton Area High School in Pennsylvania. Many players drafted straight out of high school in mid-to-late rounds tend to put their pro careers on hold and opt for college experience, but Canzler's decision has not set him back.

After spending two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League, he was selected as a 2006 Northwest League Post-season All-Star at Class Low-A Boise, and last year held his own in his first stint of full-season ball with Class-A Peoria, batting .270 with seven home runs, 24 doubles and 54 RBIs in 125 contests.

"If I had to do it again, I'd do it the same," says Canzler. "As a young kid out of high school at 18 years old, you get a lot more opportunities and are given a lot more chances. Organizations are more forgiving with you.

"If I can prove myself at a young age, that gives me an edge over some of these guys coming out of college."

Now that he has taken advantage of the extra playing time, Canzler is looking to keep his bat heated up heading into the final stretch of July and beyond.

"This is a fun game, it's a kid's game," Canzler said. "All you can do is go up there and relax as much as you can and the hits will come."

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