It doesn't matter where Ryan Flaherty plays in the field, he'll always find a place to hit.
Flaherty homered twice and drove in a career-high five runs in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, leading the Tennessee Smokies to an 11-7 victory over the Montgomery Biscuits.
The second of the Cubs' first-round picks in the 2008 Draft, Flaherty went deep with none on and two outs in the second inning to extend Tennessee's lead to 5-0. Two innings later, he slugged a three-run shot that made it 9-1.
Flaherty added an RBI single in the sixth, capping the most productive night of his four-year career.
"I'm trying to be as consistent as I can, especially early in the season, just trying not to do too much," he said. "I know I can get into trouble when I try to do too much. When you try to do too much and try to drive the ball too much, you can get yourself out."
Flaherty, who was 1-for-3 in the nightcap, is batting .393 with three homers and 10 RBIs in nine games for the Cubs' Double-A affiliate. A natural third baseman, he's spent time at second base, shortstop and left field this season, proving to be an asset defensively with just one error. While some players might find it difficult to move around the field, Flaherty takes pride in his versatility.
"It is hard, but at the same time it's good," Flaherty said. "Before the game, it can be a little difficult, but it's fun to play in the infield and then go to the outfield. I've had a lot of fun playing them all. I've obviously played the infield the most, so second, short and third are natural to me, but I like them all. To be able to play every position can only help."
Flaherty also is no stranger to Tennessee, having attended Vanderbilt University, which is three hours from Smokies Park. The Maine native played in 23 Southern League games last year, batting .183 with a homer and nine RBIs.
"It's great, playing so close to my college," he said. "I've had a chance to go down there on an off day and see some friends. It's definitely been fun."
Flaherty has primarily been batting second behind Brett Jackson, MLB.com's No. 46 prospect, which has proven to be a boon.
"It makes things a lot easier, he's on base all the time," Flaherty said. "He's moving, the infielders are moving to cover bases because he's fast. It makes it real easy hitting behind him."
Josh Vitters, the third overall pick in 2007, contributed a three-run blast in the opener for the first-place Smokies, who have won four in a row. Jackson scored three times in the doubleheader, notching his fifth stolen base in Game 1.
Former first overall pick Tim Beckham slugged his first Double-A homer for the Biscuits in the opener.