Chicago Cubs Prospect Profile: Ryan Flaherty

Flaherty, is versatile and powerful.

Meet Ryan Flaherty the Cubs first round 41st overall pick (supplemental draft pick the Cubs received for Jason Kendall) from 2008, drafted out of Vanderbilt as a shortstop. The 23-year old 6’3″ 200 pound Flaherty, bats left-handed and throws right-handed.

Baseball America ranked Ryan Flaherty as the ninth best prospect in the Cubs organization. In the Vineline’s annual “Fifty Names from the Farm“, Flaherty garnered a lot of attention. In a questionare sent out to the Cubs’ minor league staff and coaches, Flaherty and Rebel Riding, are the best power hitters in the system … and Flaherty also tied with Johathan Mota for best range in the Cubs’ system at third base.

Ryan Flaherty played three seasons at Vanderbilt. In 2006 he hit (batting average/ on base percentage/ slugging percentage) .339/.421/.458 with two homeruns in 62 games. In 2007 Flaherty hit .381/.438/.531 with four homeruns in 67 games. Flaherty found his power stroke in 2008. He hit 14 home runs, while compiling a .324/.411/.543 line in 63 games.

Flaherty was drafted by the Cubs and received a $906,000 signing bonus. In 2008 while playing at Boise he continued to show his power capabilities hitting .297/.369/.511 with eight homeruns, 19 doubles, and two triples in 219 at bats. In 2009 he was promoted A ball in Peoria and he got off to a slow start. Flaherty rebounded nicely, hitting .276/.344/.470 with 20 homeruns, 24 doubles, and five triples in 485 at bats. However, Flaherty struggled against left-handed pitching last year.

Flaherty has a shortstop’s arm, but his range projects better at third or second base. Last year at Peoria he played 55 games at second base, 40 games at shortstop, and 19 games at third base. Flaherty has the power, the range and the arm to project as a starting third baseman at the big league level … or he could possibly make it as a second baseman with average range defensesively but above average power at second base.

With several prominent shortstops in the Cubs system with better defensive skills (Starlin Castro, Hak-Ju Lee and Darwin Barney) Flaherty’s playing time at shortstop may be coming to an end. Look for him to play more second base and third base in 2010.

To be a full-time player Ryan Flaherty needs to show he can hit left-handed pitching with consistency. He hasn’t played above A-ball, so he needs to pick up where he left of last year … both offensively and defensively. He certainly has the potential.

If Flaherty continues to struggle against left-handed pitching, but shows at least average defense at three infield positions, Flaherty could end up as a valuable utility infielder. One that could supply a little pop from the left side of the plate off the bench.

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