Jokisch, Beeler hoping to pitch in at some point
All hail the first graduates of the class of 2010.
That would be the Chicago Cubs' draft class of 2010. Truth be told, that draft didn't exactly blow anybody away.
The Cubs' first pick was pitcher Hayden Simpson, who washed out of organized ball quickly. Simpson was followed in the Cubs' 2010 draft by Reggie Golden, Micah Gibbs and Hunter Ackerman.
You get the idea.
It went that way for much of that draft, but the Cubs hope to be able to salvage something from it after all.
Fifth-rounder Matt Szczur, a two-sport athlete out of Villanova, made it to the bigs last August.
And a pair of pitchers came up and acquitted themselves well in spot duty: right-hander Dallas Beeler and lefty Eric Jokisch, a native of downstate Illinois who played his college baseball at Northwestern.
"Out of our draft class, me and Jokisch always joke around about it," Beeler said this week at the Cubs' spring-training camp in Mesa, Arizona. "I was the first one out of the draft class to be called up, and everyone seemed to follow after that. I felt like I got the ball rolling for everybody on that. That was a good feeling."
Beeler came up from Class AAA Iowa on June 28 and pitched 6 innings against the Nationals in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. He took the loss but gave up only an unearned run. He made another start on July 9 at Cincinnati and took the loss with a 5-inning, 6-hit, 4-run performance.
Jokisch was a September call-up. He got into four games, staring one and putting up a 1.88 ERA.
"It was just a really good experience for me to finally get there in a few low-pressure situations and coming into some games where we just needed to get some outs," he said. "I got myself acclimated and realized that I can get those guys out. It's still baseball. It's a little bigger stage.
"As the pitching coach last year in Iowa always said, 'You're playing a little game inside a big game.' We need to be able to take it and focus on just the little game of pitching and executing pitches. That was huge for me. Moving forward I can try to be able to pitch even better and a little more focused in knowing what I'm doing."
Both Beeler and Jokisch can count. They see a Cubs rotation that features Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood.
The odds are stacked against both youngsters cracking the rotation or even making the team, but that doesn't mean they can't get a lot out of spring training.
"Right now, I'm treating it like a normal spring training," Jokisch said. "I'm trying to get myself ready, get my bullpen work in, get my stuff feeling good, to where I want it. But I also know I'm competing. Whether I am or am not competing for a spot in their (the organization's) minds, for me, I'm trying to go out and prove that I belong on the team. It's their decision for whatever they want to do. But I'm focused on trying to perform as well as I can."
Beeler said the biggest thing he got from last year -- both in the major and minor leagues -- was personal growth.
"Maturing," he said. "That's one of the big things I took from it. Last year, the whole time, throughout Triple-A and the call-up to Chicago, I felt like I matured a lot. That's what I'm trying to take out of this year, too. Just each year trying to pick up little things that I can improve mentally and physically on the mound.
"Just learn more (about) the game and learn how to conduct yourself through different situations, whether it be a good day or you're struggling a little bit. I found the thing I have to worry about is how to handle my emotions a little bit and handle myself physically and mentally on the mound."
For Jokisch, he has a couple of lefties to learn from in Lester and Wood. Lester was signed this off-season to be the Cubs' ace, and Wood is beginning his fourth season with the Cubs.
"Actually, I've already been in, looking at videos of Lester and guys like that to try to get any little thing I can from them," Jokisch said. "I'm not the type of guy who is usually going to go up and ask too many questions, but I can definitely learn from watching from the side, and if there is something I'd like to know, I will go up and see if they'll give me any kind of information."
Having played his college ball in Evanston, Jokisch wouldn't mind sticking around the North Side awhile and feeling at home, especially after last year's debut.
"Yeah, it was really cool," he said. "A lot of my friends still live up there. I've got some family up in Chicago.
"I remember when I first came into the game, I was warming up and they played the Northwestern fight song, and it was really cool to come full circle like that. Yeah, it's exciting to play for a team that I've grown up watching."