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Cubs' Candelario named AFL Co-Player of the Week

Chicago's No. 20 prospect hit .800 with pair of homers in first week of Fall League

MESA, Ariz. -- Mesa Solar Sox third baseman Jeimer Candelario of the Chicago Cubs has been named Arizona Fall League Co-Player of the Week, batting .800 with four doubles, a pair of homers and four RBIs through the first week. Candelario, who went 8-for-10 and led the league in hits and doubles, shared the honor with Detroit's JaCoby Jones.

"I'm excited," Candelario said. "I've been putting in the hard work to do the best that I can."

Currently the 20th-ranked prospect in the Chicago Cubs' system according to MLB Pipeline, Candelario is ready for the opportunity to show his dedication to his craft.

As a switch-hitter, he said he has to train more to keep his strength and power consistent on both sides.

"It's a lot of work," Candelario said. "I come to the cages at the field and it's the first thing I do, work on both sides. It's kind of difficult but I love it."

The 21-year-old takes time before every game to work with his hitting coaches to make sure his bat stays powerful. Candelario is also taking this opportunity to work on his defense, and he has started a routine to focus on the fundamentals every time he gets to the park.

"A ballplayer has to know how to do everything, every day," Candelario said. "I like to work on my defense drills, my hitting. Until you make it to the big leagues, you gotta work hard and get better every day."

It was an easy adjustment from the minors to the Fall League for Candelario because he's working with his former manager from the Kane County Cougars, Mark Johnson. The two won the Midwest League title in 2014 and Candelario has nothing but respect for his current manager.

"Mark Johnson, he's a good guy," Candelario said. "I've learned a lot of good things and I like the way he treats me. I like the way he works."

They've worked well together in the past, even beyond the Midwest League title. Candelario earned Midwest League Player of the Week honors in June 2014 playing under Johnson. He credits his routine and swing for winning him the honor. Candelario was also named a Midseason All-Star in the Carolina League in 2015 with the Advanced-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

While his focus is primarily on the Mesa Solar Sox and improving his skills, Candelario also takes time out of his day to keep track of his parent team, the Chicago Cubs, currently battling the New York Mets in the NLCS.

"I'm seeing every ballgame they're playing," Candelario said. "They got some good talent over there too. I really like seeing those games."

"Baby Ruth," a nickname given to Candelario in the Dominican Republic, has goals for the rest of the Fall League, but he isn't going to put emphasis on what his batting average is or keep track of how many hits he collects. He is determined to improve his skills no matter what.

"I'm having a good time out here in the Fall League," Candelario said. "But I'm going to keep working hard every day and do the best that I can."

Zuriel Loving is a contributor for
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