Roquet Making up for Lost Time in Arizona

It was a tale of two halves for Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Rocky Roquet in 2008. After experiencing a dip in velocity at the beginning of the year and a brief trip down to Class-A Daytona, Roquet rediscovered the magic as the second half wore on and worked his way up to Class AAA Iowa near season's end.

Roquet pitched for three Cubs affiliates this past summer, spending the bulk of his time at Class AA Tennessee, where he was 4-2 with a 3.70 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. He began the season at Tennessee, but was sent to Daytona for a short stay just a month into the season, not long after going on the disabled list.

Roquet closed the year with a solid 1.71 ERA in 15 games spanning 21 innings in the second half with the Smokies before being promoted to Iowa for the Cubs' playoff series against Oklahoma.

Now Roquet is getting a chance to gain some experience and make up for a few innings lost this season by pitching in the Arizona Fall League. He's one of four Cubs pitching prospects participating in the annual postseason venue and has to date appeared in one contest, tossing a scoreless ninth inning on Oct. 8 for the Mesa Solar Sox against the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

Roquet says he is happy with the opportunity that the Fall League provides. It's the pitcher's second taste of Fall League play since joining the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent from Cal-Poly in 2006.

"Getting the experience that comes with playing the Fall League is good," said Roquet.

Aside from the experience, Roquet is working on the movement of his fastball and on controlling his slider. That's important for two seasons – Roquet throws hard, upward of 95-97 mph at times, and because his slider became flat when his velocity dipped at the start of the season.

"I was doing well in spring training and just hit a little funk at the beginning of the regular season," Roquet said of his early struggles. "The velocity was down and my slider was a little bit flatter because my velocity was down, so I just stayed with it, worked hard, got my velocity back up and when I finished in Triple-A for the playoffs, it was back up and I hit 96 (mph) once or twice."

"Everything was working the last month and a half (to) two months of the year."

Roquet believes the dip in velocity coincided with some dead-arm symptoms he was experiencing. He also was battling through a bout of inflammation in his elbow.

Upon returning to Tennessee in early June, Roquet began to heat up. He posted a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings with the club in June and then was lights-out in August, holding opposing hitters to a .143 average and boasting a 0.57 ERA over 10 games that month.

The Cubs rewarded Roquet by giving him his first ever call-up to Triple-A in early September.

"It was good to get up there," Roquet said. "I took it for what it was worth and just tried to go up there and help them win some ballgames. They had a really good team all year and with the September call-ups, they had a couple of openings and I was lucky enough to be one of the guys that went up there.

"It was really a fun time. I loved being with Pat (Listach), the manager up there. I was with him in the Southern League (in 2007), so it was good to get back with him."

Now doing his pitching in Arizona, a typical day for Roquet begins earlier than most regular season games. Since most of the Solar Sox games are at 12:30 Arizona time, pitchers are up and out at the ballpark bright and early.

"You usually get to the ballpark at 7:45 or 8 o'clock, get in there and do whatever training stuff you need to get out of the way," said Roquet. "I usually get my lower body stretched and get my running out of the way early, and either head on the bus to go [to an away game] or stretch right away with full team and run right into our throwing program and just go from there from the game."

Roquet added that he has benefitted from working with Solar Sox pitching coach Ray Burris, an instructor in the Detroit Tigers' system and a former big league pitcher that spent time with seven clubs, including the Cubs, from 1973 to 1987. Burris is the Solar Sox pitching coach.

"He realizes what you need to work on and he'll definitely not try to over-coach you, but if he sees something wrong, he'll let you know," Roquet said.

"The more people see you, the better shot you have," added Roquet. "I'm just looking to get experience and go from there, whether it's going to Triple-A next year or returning to Double-A; it doesn't really matter."

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