Flaherty's Versatility on Display

PEORIA -- One might suspect a kid growing up in the state of Maine would be more prone to playing an indoor sport such as basketball or hockey. The Peoria Chiefs' Ryan Flaherty was raised in an area where baseball was the sport of choice.

"I grew up in an area where a bunch of kids played every day," Flaherty said. "Me and my brother (Regan) played every day in the back yard or where ever we could and just fell in love with the game."

The Flaherty brothers' love of the game and the desire to play it for a living has paid off for each of them. Regan Flaherty was the 833rd selection (28th round) by the Seattle Mariners in this year's draft. It did not hurt that the two brothers' father, Ed Flaherty, was the head coach at the University of Southern Maine, either.

"Three or four times a week after school, I would hit with them, or if I couldn't go, he would come home and throw to me," Ryan Flaherty said.

With the extra instruction and hard work, Flaherty would eventually become the Gatorade High School State Player of the Year at Deering High School and would go on to play college ball at Vanderbilt for three years. The Cubs made Flaherty the 41st overall pick in 2008.

So far this season, Flaherty has played his natural position (shortstop), but has also been exposed to playing time at second base. He sees this as an opportunity to become more versatile and help him reach the next level.

"The more I learn, the better," Flaherty said. "As you go through the system, you learn to play second base, you learn to play other positions, and you become more valuable to the team."

Chiefs manager Marty Pevey envisions Flaherty playing even more positions in the future.

"I think he'll be a first baseman or third baseman in the long run, but you never know," Pevey stated. "You let them play the middle infield until they show they can't play that position anymore. If he can continue with the progress he has made this year, he is giving himself a chance."

Besides his versatility in the middle of the infield, Flaherty has shown his versatility at the plate as well. He has deposited eight balls behind the outfield walls as souvenirs and collected 32 RBI. Though his .238 average may not quite be where he would like it, Flaherty recognizes that baseball is a long season that has its ups and downs.

"The average may not be where I would like it to be, but it is going to come with time. It's a long season," Flaherty pointed out. "It can fluctuate and change anytime."

Pevey said he sees Flaherty further developing into a power hitter.

"He's going to get bigger and stronger. He's going to fill out. His shoulders are still a little small yet, but they're going to match his lower half," Pevey explained. "He's a big bodied kid (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) that has long legs and arms. He has a lot of power in his bat and he's hit some majestic home runs for us this season."

At the beginning of the year, many thought Flaherty might open the season at Advanced Class-A Daytona. He batted .297 with eight home runs in 56 games for short-season Low-A Boise a season ago, but opened the season at Peoria when 19-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro got the starting nod at Daytona instead.

Flaherty knows that if he continues to work hard, the future will play itself out.

"I'm not disappointed. It's where (the Cubs organization feels) I'm at right now," Flaherty said. "It's in the best interest of me and the Cubs organization that I be here right now. It's out of my hands whenever there is a change."

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