MARION — Die-hard White Sox and Cubs fans have heard of Bryant Flete.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound infielder from Cumairebo, Venezuela, was part of a five-person trade in July 2017 between the White Sox and the Cubs that brought lefty pitcher Jose Quintana to the North Side. Flete (pronounced FLA-TAY), who hit .305 in six-plus seasons in the Cubs' minor league affiliates, was sent to the South Side with Matt Rose, Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez.
Flete joined the Miners in early May after two of manager Mike Pinto's former colleagues, Billy Horn and Brooks Carey, saw him at a workout in Florida. Flete arrived out of baseball shape, but after working with the Miners' strength program, got back to the guy who had 490 career hits in 567 career minor league games.
"He's just a very good hitter," said Pinto, the Frontier League's all-time winningest manager. "He has a very good approach. He sees a lot of pitches and yet is not afraid. When he gets the pitch he wants, he attacks it."
Flete entered Friday's series opener against Schaumburg (12-6) on an eight-game on-base streak. His .375 average in eight games was second-best on the team behind Anthony Brocato's .424. He went 0 of 2 at the plate in his first game against River City, but got at least one hit in every game since.
"I'm having good at-bats, feeling really calm in there picking my pitches, and just carrying what I do in practice into the games," Flete said through interpreter Alex Santana, a Miners outfielder.
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The Miners (9-8) have taken off with Flete at the top of the order. Before he arrived, they were batting .222. Since he joined the lineup, he's scored 10 runs in eight games, and the Miners' average has risen 31 points to .253.
"We didn't hit real well the first six games, so, we put him into the lineup," Pinto said. "A guy that starts the game with a pretty good at-bat, with a good approach, was kind of a shot in the arm for us."
Flete was a mid-season all-star in the Carolina League before the trade and reached Triple-A in Charlotte in 2018. Flete scored the tying run and the winning run in the 12th inning Thursday night.
Miners moves: The Miners placed right-handed pitcher Steven Ridings (1-1, 2.37 ERA) on the 14-day disabled list Friday and transferred Brocato from the 14-day disabled list to the 60-day list.
On the road again: After playing 11 of their first 17 games on the road, the Miners are headed back out Tuesday for a three-game series at Washington in Pennsylvania. Southern Illinois will play three games against the Wild Things June 4-6 and then play a three-game series at Lake Erie (Ohio) before coming home to host Washington June 11.
The Miners are 4-7 away from Rent One Park.