Huseby Moves from Mound to Batter's Box

BOISE – Standing in the outfield at 6-foot-7, Chris Huseby looks like he belongs on the basketball court, not with a baseball glove on his left hand.

In truth, Huseby's coaches at Martin County High School in Florida actually wanted him to go out for basketball.

"(I)t was kind of tough because basketball season kind of goes into baseball season and for me, I was playing club ball and it often extended into the winter, so I made my choice of baseball," the 22-year-old Huseby recalls.

The lanky outfielder/designated hitter for Class Low-A Boise considers his height an advantage in his new role as a slugger for the Hawks.

Huseby was drafted in the 11th round in 2006 as a right-handed pitcher. He received a record signing bonus for an 11th-round draft pick.

"Absolutely, I feel I have so much more leverage and it just helps a lot," Huseby said of his frame.

Huseby is in his fifth season in the Cubs organization (this is his second stint in Boise). A season ago, Huseby was a dominant force for Class-A Peoria as the team's late-inning reliever/closer.

He was 4-5 with a 1.83 ERA and 18 saves in 40 appearances with the Chiefs, and struck out 73 batters while walking only 10.

"I had a great year in Peoria closing out games and I got a good season under my belt," Huseby reflected. "I have now put a little extra pressure on my self to have another good season."

But after spending the first part of 2010 at Class High-A Daytona, Cubs management and the team's coaches saw something in Huseby that made them want to see what he could do as a hitter.

He was sent to extended spring training in Mesa, Ariz., not a month into the season and began garnering some at-bats.

"I took batting practice one day and the coaches liked what they saw, the way I swung the bat and everything. They said, ‘You know you are going to go to Boise, and a few weeks ago they told me they liked what they saw on my hitting and asked if I wanted to make this a full-time thing," Huseby said.

The transition from pitcher to hitter has come with a set of challenges for Huseby. But it has also helped him make great strides in his game.

"I think pitching helped him out a lot because it gave him an idea of how to take the ball there," Boise hitting coach Ricardo Medina said. "He's a big guy. He's strong. I think he was a hitter also when he played in high school, so it's coming back to him and it's just something he's working on day in and day out."

"It's tough at times, but in the end I really believe in myself and believe in my athletic ability to make that change and to make those adjustments," added Huseby.

Huseby said he will miss pitching, but hitting is something he never lost a flair for.

His love for baseball started at a young age and like many, his dad played a big role in Huseby's choice of baseball as a career.

"Ever since I can remember, I was doing the whole playing catch with my dad thing, playing T-ball, and my dad was always right there with me coaching me and teaching me how to hit," Huseby said.

"I think when I was about 12 years old and got into the whole travel ball thing, I was doing it every day. It was something I realized I was good at and I could see myself doing for a long time."

With the Hawks, Huseby has been able to transition and excel at a new position within the lower levels of the Cubs' organization. Huseby came into Tuesday's game against Spokane batting.343 through 12 games. He has two triples, a double and three RBI since making his first start at DH on June 22.

"I want him to learn about himself more to recognize strikes and connection and just repetition the rest of this season," Medina said. "Along with the ability to play and have success, he shows that the more he plays, the better he will get."

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