Archer Putting it Together

PEORIA - Just say the name Chris Archer around Peoria Chiefs pitching coach Rich Bombard and his eyes light up with excitement.

"The way he is throwing right now has been very impressive. He has done a heck of a job for us," Bombard beamed.

Archer, a 20-year-old right-hander, recently followed up his May 21 start against West Michigan, where he pitched five shutout innings and struck out eight batters, with another solid performance against the Clinton LumberKings on Wednesday.

In that game, Archer pitched five solid innings and struck out a season-high nine betters. He scattered three hits and allowed no earned runs.

Just as importantly, Archer has allowed only one walk in each of his last two outings, and control of his pitches has been something Archer has concentrated on this season after issuing 84 walks a season ago with Class A Lake County of the South Atlantic League.

"I'm working on my fastball command for the most part," Archer said. "My other stuff is pretty good. I have good command over them, but sometimes I lose control. But it's coming along. It's getting better."

"The ability is there," said Bombard. "Looking at his short career, what he has struggled with is his walks, which is a matter with a lot of young pitchers. He's got four average to above-average pitches: fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup.

"At times, all are major league pitches."

Peoria manager Marty Pevey has mentored Archer during games. After Archer gave up a two-run double to Clinton's Kris Sanchez in the third inning of Wednesday's 3-2 victory, Pevey approached the right-hander and offered some advice.

"I told him, ‘Let that be a valuable lesson. Your fastball is your best pitch, but (Sanchez) has to prove to you he can hit it before you throw him a changeup. It wasn't a bad changeup, but (Sanchez) hasn't proved he can hit your fastball,'" offered Pevey.

That fastball, which has been clocked at 95 MPH, is what caught the eye of the Cubs and led to Archer being a big part of the trade for INF Mark DeRosa with Cleveland last December.

Archer was originally drafted by the Indians in the fifth round of the 2006 draft from Clayton High School in North Carolina. He spent the entire 2008 season with Lake County and finished 4-8 with a 4.29 ERA, 106 strikeouts, and 84 walks in 115 1/3 innings.

When Archer learned he had been traded, he had mixed emotions.

"It was bittersweet because I have my relationships with people there and I didn't want to leave," Archer said. "But then again, I got traded for Mark DeRosa, which is a good thing, so I was looking forward to wiping my slate clean and coming over here and meeting everybody. Hopefully I can succeed here."

All one has to do is look at Archer's minimal 1.29 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched to understand the success he's having on the mound. In fact, he has more walks (20) than hits given up (19).

After Wednesday's outing, Archer pushed his streak of not allowing an earned run at O'Brien Field to 18 consecutive innings open the season.

To keep him healthy, Archer has been placed on a 75-pitch limit per game.

"He'll stay on that pretty much all year," Bombard stated. "It's important for him to go out every five days, though, because that's how you get better."

Bombard said Archer will continue to improve because of his willingness to be coached as a player.

"He is a hard worker. He listens. You look at a guy like that and you see a high future," Bombard said. "It's just a matter of him commanding his stuff, repeating his delivery, and being in the strike zone. When he does that, he definitely has a shot of being in the major leagues."

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