If you’re looking for feathers in the collective Chicago Cubs’ caps, this year was not particularly featherly. But one of the team’s prospects stepped up and took home an individual award. Reliever David Cales was the reliever of the year for his efforts at High A Daytona.
[Cales] went 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA and 14 saves in 37 games for Daytona in the Florida State League, numbers that made him the choice for a MiLBY as the Class A Advanced Reliever of the Year.
“As I became older, I loved Chicago sports all together,” Cales said. “It’s an honor to play for the city of Chicago, even in the Minors. I couldn’t be happier playing for the Cubs. I’m just a Chicago fan. It’s an absolute privilege playing for a Chicago team.”
In his first summer as a pro, Cales split time between the rookie-level Arizona League and short-season Northwest League, so he was a little surprised when he made the leap right up to Class A Advanced Daytona to start this season. He nearly fell over when he got nudged up to Double-A in May, even though that didn’t go so well. But he earned his way back up there, and even got a one-appearance taste of Triple-A, late in the season.
“It was a shock to go up to Double-A,” Cales admitted. “Then to give me another chance at the end of the year, I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything better. I didn’t believe much of it was happening because it was happening so fast.”
The promotion was well earned, in both cases. The right-hander gave up just one earned run in April and was only scored upon four times in 37 games with Daytona. Over 46 innings, he allowed just 29 hits (.187 batting average against) and 11 walks while striking out 43 batters. His ERA was 0.00 in both June and August.
“The kid throws strikes and he throws from a different angle,” said Oneri Fleita, the Cubs’ vice president of player personnel. “He goes right after hitters. He’s fearless and he’s aggressive.
“He’s got an unorthodox delivery. He was as reliable as anyone we had in the organization all year.” cubs.com.
Cales, 22, was in just his first full season of professional ball, so there’s good reason to be optimistic about him. As dominant as he was at Daytona, however, he struggled a bit at AA and AAA. But the aggressive promotion strategy indicates that he’s a kid the club is excited about, and expects to contribute some day to the big team. Cales may very well begin the year at AAA, where he had a one-game cup of coffee at the end of 2009.
If successful, he can become another in a seemingly endless line of tremendously successful Cubs reliever prospects whom the Cubs do not actually wish to give a chance to, you know, contribute in the Cubs’ bullpen.