Top Prospect Vitters Staying in Routine

PEORIA -- Many positive thoughts come to mind when Peoria Chiefs manager Marty Pevey describes consensus top prospect and 2007 first-round draft pick Josh Vitters."He is a great player," says Pevey, the Chiefs' first-year skipper. "He plays the game the right way. He is a warrior that never complains or moans and he is a quiet leader."

The quiet leader has continued to make noise, batting .355, which ranks third in the Midwest League. Vitters has also belted 10 home runs (nine this month), leaving him one shy of Great Lakes outfielder Kyle Russell for the Midwest League lead.

Over the past 10 games, Vitters has been locked in at the plate, batting .476 with seven home runs and 14 RBI. That 10-game stretch includes a six-game hitting streak, a five-game streak of three hits, and a four-game home run streak.

For Vitters, staying in a routine has helped him continue his high level of play.

"I have a little bit of a pre-game routine. I go out and take my ground balls, take a certain amount of rounds of hitting and take the same amount everyday to keep my swing feeling good," Vitters said. "I've been patient looking for good pitches to hit and not missing many mistakes."

As patient as Vitters has been at the plate, he has only walked three times this season in 152 at-bats. However, Pevey said he is not concerned about that.

"There is no need to walk when he has been hitting as well as he has," Pevey stated.

Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken, who made Vitters the third overall pick in the '07 draft, agreed with that summation.

"As he gets a little bit older, he's going to be able to recognize pitches even better and I think his patience will be even better," Wilken said. "Right now I think he's such a pure hitter that some of those walk totals are because he puts everything into play. When you take a swing and make contact, it makes it hard to get a walk."

From the defensive side, Vitters has committed eight errors in 87 chances at third base for a .908 fielding percentage, but says he remains happy with his effort.

"I feel I've been doing pretty good over there at third base. Hopefully I can continue that, especially making all the routine plays," said Vitters.

Even though he was a top-five pick, Vitters has been able to suppress the pressures one might feel. That's a different story from his first handful of games in pro ball when he began his career 2-for-30 in seven games in the Arizona Rookie League in 2007.

"The first 50 at bats of professional ball, I felt a huge weight on my shoulders, but now I have gotten over it and started hitting and playing a lot better than I used to," said Vitters.

Being only 19 years old and having success, Vitters has kept a level head.

"It is the way my dad taught me and my brother (Christian) to play the game so that is just how it's always been. I've never known anything different," Vitters stated.

And because of his hot hitting and fast start to the season, many have wondered when Vitters could be moved up within the organization.

But Pevey has made it perfectly clear where the third baseman is going to be playing for the time being.

"He's staying here," Pevey said.

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