Ryan Flaherty just might be hitting his way out of the Florida State League.

The former Deering High star who was drafted 41st by the Chicago Cubs in 2008 was optioned to the advanced Class A Daytona Cubs after starting the season in Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies.

Since then he’s strung together a 15-game hitting streak and is batting a team-high .344.

“Anytime you get sent down, it’s hard right at first. It’s a step back,” said Flaherty. “But once you get over that part of it, things get better. I know I’ve had better at-bats here. My results have shown it. Obviously I’m trying to get back there.

“I know myself. If I play my best, things will work out.”

Flaherty had a strong start this spring, playing seven exhibition games with the Cubs and bypassing advanced Class A.

But with Tennessee he hit .183 in 71 at-bats.

His resilience, though, is showing.

“I think any ballplayer in the minor league system needs to handle failure. I think they look for that,” said Ed Flaherty, Ryan’s father and longtime coach at the University of Southern Maine. “He’s resilient. A lot of kids would get sent down and take it as a slap on your ability. Ryan’s not that way. He’s confident in his ability.”

Flaherty said his main focus is getting quality at-bats.

“It’s the same here. Baseball is baseball,” he said. “Those guys (with Chicago) are going through the same struggles as guys in high school or college, or here.”

He primarily played second base with Tennessee, and splits time at third, second and shortstop in Daytona.

Flaherty is among several local prospects playing well in the minors.

Charlie Furbush, a left-hander from South Portland, is leading the Florida State League with 90 strikeouts for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. He was a fourth-round pick in 2007 after playing in college at St. Joseph’s and Louisiana State.

Right-hander Mark Rogers of Orrs Island made his Triple-A debut Wednesday night in the Milwaukee Brewers’ farm system — a one-day assignment for the former first-round pick.

Furbush also is looking to advance to Double-A.

“Every player wants to move up as quick as they can, but I know anything can happen. Especially in this game,” said Furbush. “So I just take it as it comes. Life is good right now.”

Furbush, who is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2008, said he feels 100 percent. He spent last summer with Lakeland, going 6-7 with a 3.96 ERA.

This spring he’s 3-3 with a 2.96 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 innings. He’s scheduled to pitch tonight.

Dan Lunetta, the Tigers’ director of minor league operations, said the organization is happy to see Furbush healthy.

“That’s certainly very encouraging,” said Lunetta. “So what we see right now is a guy who is steadily improving with his ability to be an effective and successful pitcher. Everyone involved with his development is optimistic.”

The next logical step for Furbush would be a promotion to Detroit’s Double-A team in Erie, Pa., which plays in the Eastern League with the Portland Sea Dogs.

But, said Lunetta, the Flying Tigers (30-22) are on pace to compete for a league championship. That could limit transactions.

“When the time comes for elevating players this season from this level, I’m certain Charlie would be a part of the conversation,” said Lunetta. “But we have a club that’s playing very well. And we think achieving something as a team is important, too. When we have a club doing well we don’t like to break that club up.”

For now, Furbush is working on developing his curveball and change-up, the keys to his strikeouts. In his last five starts, Furbush has 54 strikeouts and just three walks.

“He’s using his stuff well,” said Lunetta. “He’s got an average fastball, which he sometimes throws above average. We’re looking for him to develop his breaking pitch, his off-speed stuff.

“He’s becoming a very effective strikeout pitcher. He’s very deceptive and that can cause an effect to strike hitters out.”

Rogers, meanwhile, was reassigned to the Double-A Huntsville Stars on Thursday.

“It was a one-day deal,” said Reid Nichols, the Brewers’ minor league director. “We needed a pitcher, and the start happened to fall on a day he was supposed to start.”

Rogers pitched 41/3 scoreless innings in Nashville’s 6-2 victory against the Albuquerque Isotopes. He struck out three, allowed three hits, and walked three. He threw 85 pitches.

“He did well,” Nichols said. “He did really well for a surprise like that.”

In nine starts with Huntsville, Rogers, the first-round draft pick of the Brewers in 2004, has a 2-4 record and a 3.60 ERA.

Reliever Ryan Reid, a former teammate of Flaherty’s at Deering, is pitching for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits in Alabama. He has a 4.32 ERA in 25 innings, with a 1-1 record.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

[email protected]