Cougars Insider: Kane County pitchers finding the way with Will Remillard

Kane County catcher, Will Remillard (20) grabs a pop up for an out during the seventh inning of Sunday's game against Burlington at the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, in Geneva, May 4, 2014. Kane County won the game, 13-3. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
Kane County catcher, Will Remillard (20) grabs a pop up for an out during the seventh inning of Sunday's game against Burlington at the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, in Geneva, May 4, 2014. Kane County won the game, 13-3. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media

The way Cougars catcher Will Remillard has started this season is a tribute to the power of scouting.

After suffering a back injury late in his junior season at Coastal Carolina, Remillard was passed over repeatedly before the Cubs struck. Scouted by former big leaguer Keith Lockhart, the father of Remillard’s Cougars teammate Danny Lockhart, the Cubs took Remillard in the 19th round of last year’s draft.

He was unable to suit up for the Cubs organization until this spring as he rehabbed the back injury.

“I don’t know anything about the reason he slipped, I’m just glad he’s here catching for us,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “I’m glad he’s in our organization.”

The Cubs are happy with their $150,000 investment in the emerging prospect, as well. He was named the organization’s player of the month in April after he hit .373 in his professional debut.

He has slipped to .344 through his first 93 at-bats, with 11 doubles and 23 RBIs. His OPS is a sturdy .908.

After struggling with the bat in spring training and his first week with the Cougars, hitting coach Tom Beyers suggested a small leg kick to Remillard, and the results have been immediate.

“I needed something to get me into a better position to attack the ball, and that’s what the leg kick did for me,” Remillard said. “It’s really helped me out. It’s still new. It’s something that I’m working on every day. The numbers are good, but there are still going to be ups and downs.”

To fans, the offensive numbers are what stand out. But for Johnson, an eight-year major league baseball veteran behind the plate, it’s his defense and his ability to run a pitching staff that have him excited.

“He’s a great defensive catcher now,” said Johnson of Remillard, who has thrown out 36 percent of would-be baserunners and has yet to commit an error. “He’s going to continue to get better behind the plate. I think his arm stands out more than anything right now.

“He’s a smart catcher. He can follow a game plan, which you don’t see a lot at this level. He’s got a good feel. He’s going to become more of a leader as he plays.”

Remillard takes great pride in developing the skills catchers need that are hard to quantify.

“Defense is my thing,” Remillard said. “That’s where I put my most pride and energy. My hitting has been good so far, and hopefully that continues. But that’s not my focus. I work hard every day on hitting, but I work two times as hard on catching. That’s why I’m here.”

Remillard had the chance to focus on that Saturday as he was behind the plate when Tyler Skulina and Nathan Dorris combined for the eighth no-hitter in Cougars history.

“It was unbelievable,” Remillard said. “It doesn’t really get real until about the sixth inning. Hitting becomes a non-factor at that point. You’re solely focused on running that game. It was awesome.”

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