Many I’ve spoken to that follow Chicago Cubs prospects seem to write off Ryan Flaherty, at least to some extent. It really is a shame that a 25-year-old prospect has trouble receiving credit despite good production.

Of course, that is a very short summary to a long story outlining Flaherty’s career. Vanderbilt was lucky to have the 6’3", 220-lb shortstop for two great years that were capped off with a second-team All-American bid in his sophomore season. The Cubs used their supplemental round pick on Flaherty in the 2008 draft. From there, Ryan made a promising start to his career by destroying Northwest League pitching with a .880 OPS.

Flaherty’s long story takes on a bit of a lull after his first season as a pro. In his age 22 and 23 seasons, Flaherty languished mostly in A and A+ ball while putting up good-not-great numbers. This has become a foundation for why many that are well versed with Cubs prospects feel he has been a disappointment. There is something of an expectation for an accomplished college baseball player to move quickly through the lower ranks of a farm system rather than meander around for a couple of years as Flaherty did.

Flaherty did finally push through to AA in 2010 with less than desirable numbers (.539 OPS). It seems Flaherty has in fact turned the corner in this 2011 season by showing off the type of power man envisioned from his large frame. He’s belted 17 home runs between Tennessee and Iowa along with admirable versatility on the diamond. Flaherty’s fielded every position except centerfield and catcher.

At worst, Flaherty likely can become a dependable bench player for the Cubs by filling the DeRosa-esque “super sub” role that many Cubs fans are familiar with. At best, he could be a decent third base option in the post Aramis Ramirez era where his strong throwing arm and projectable power fit best. His swing has been described as long with good power and his plate discipline is noted to be better than average. He’s a great athlete overall, but will not impress anyone with his speed.

Flaherty has struggled since his promotion to AAA Iowa, but a healthy 10 game stretch in which he’s hit .385/.500/.885 indicates he may have made an adjustment. It is fair for his critics to point out his age as a detractor, but he’ll be 25 for the majority of the season next year. If he impresses in spring training enough to earn a spot on the 25 man roster, his career path will hardly be abnormal.

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