Coles Hoping to Become a Hit with Cubs

Corey Coles (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)

After five seasons in the New York Mets' farm system, Corey Coles is hoping to become a hit with his new parent club, the Chicago Cubs. Coles, 26, was dealt to Chicago along with RHP Ryan Meyers for OF Angel Pagan back on Jan. 5 and was recently assigned to Class AA Tennessee for the start of minor league play.

"It kind of came out of nowhere," Coles, a Mets fifth-round draft pick from Louisiana-Lafayette in 2003, recalled of the trade. "I was driving in my car on my way home. I got a phone call from their farm director and he broke the news to me."

When the trade was made, Coles didn't know much about the Cubs. So he went online and began trying to learn more about his new club, its depth charts, etc.

The Cubs knew plenty about Coles, though, and were happy to acquire him.

"Billy Swoope, our area guy, had a solid report on him," Chicago Scouting Director Tim Wilken said. "He believes in him and a couple of our other guys stated that he could be an underdog type of player. He makes decent contact and is a solid outfielder that can play all positions in the outfield. That's not too bad."

Coles' career hasn't been too bad, either. A .306 hitter in five minor league seasons, he played in 98 games a year ago between Class High-A St. Lucie, Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A New Orleans. He suffered a high ankle sprain with New Orleans in late July, which ended his season.

The previous year in 2006, Coles batted .341 with 26 doubles in 124 games for St. Lucie, leading the Florida State League in batting average and placing 11th among all minor league players in that category. He underwent shoulder surgery after the season to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff.

While injuries are a part of Coles' past, he doesn't feel hampered by them now.

"I don't think I have to prove myself or anything, but it's nice to be completely healthy and to not have to worry about playing injured or anything like that," he said. "It takes a little pressure off."

This spring, Coles spent his first minor league camp with Chicago making new friends and trying to get a feel for where he would fit in. The answer came late in camp when Coles was assigned to Tennessee for the start of the 2008 season.

Throughout camp, Cubs Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dave Keller got to know Coles and describes the left-handed hitting outfielder as a quiet player.

"You really wouldn't even know the guy's around until the game starts," said Keller. "When the game starts, you look up and there he is contributing. That's the way he was the whole spring. He's not a very vocal guy by any means, but he knows how to hit, has a great idea at the plate, and he just goes about his business.

"He's a joy to be around and a fun guy to coach."

And even though he's with a new organization, Coles' goals for 2008 are the same as always, he said: stay consistent with his swing, maintain his career .300 average, and hopefully, open some eyes along the way.

"Hopefully I do what I need to do to put some positive attention on myself," he said.

Asked to outline his own scouting report, Coles said: "I play all three outfield positions and think I have above average speed. I'm not a burner by any means, but I can run down fly balls. I have an average arm (because of) the shoulder surgery. I try to be aggressive on the bases and be smart. I hate striking out because it's one of the worst things I can do. I try to make contact and put the ball in play.

"I'm more of a guy who uses the middle of the field," he added. "With two strikes, I get a lot of flair jobs because I try my best to put the ball in play. I don't hit a lot of home runs, (but) I'll hit my share of doubles and maybe a triple or two."

Because of age, Coles may be a late-developing player, Wilken said.

"You have guys like Matt Diaz and Brady Clark," said Wilken. "I'm not saying he's one of those guys, but you've got Chris Coste with the Phillies who spent 12 years in the minors and ended up being a 32-year-old rookie. What I tell our scouts is: when players do get to the show, they're not checking ID's anymore."

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