CHICAGO -- For Josh Vitters, the 2011 season can't come soon enough.
The Cubs' 2007 first-round Draft pick and third-base prospect is playing for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, and was batting .276 through seven games.
The AFL is a perfect opportunity for Vitters to make up for missed at-bats. His season ended on July 25 after he broke the middle finger on his left hand when he was hit by a pitch. Vitters started the year at Class A Daytona and batted .291 with three homers, eight doubles and 13 RBIs in 28 games, before being promoted to Double-A Tennessee, where he hit .223 with seven homers, 12 doubles and 26 RBIs in 63 games.
"I was starting to feel real good at Double-A, I was starting to hit well, so it was unfortunate," Vitters said of the timing of the injury. "I'm just glad to be out here playing against the same type of competition and getting ready for Spring Training."
One of the reasons he felt better at the plate was because Tennessee manager Bill Dancy moved Vitters to the three-hole in the lineup.
"I was bouncing around, but toward the last month or so in Double-A, I was hitting third," Vitters said. "That's where I like to hit, where I've always hit. I feel comfortable there. I'd definitely like to hit there in the future."
It's where Vitters, 21, hit with Cypress High School in California when he batted .390 his senior season, prior to being drafted by the Cubs.
"I've hit in that position my whole life," he said during an interview last week at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. "Maybe I feel a little more confident when I'm hitting in a spot like that in the lineup. That may have helped me out."
Once the AFL season is over, Vitters, who has a .275 average in the Minors, will join "Colvin Camp" in Mesa, which are workout sessions run by Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss. Outfielder Tyler Colvin benefited from the daily drills and will be back for his second year in late November.
Vitters is one of many Cubs prospects who got a little extra motivation seeing players such as shortstop Starlin Castro and pitcher Andrew Cashner get called up to the big leagues this season. Castro never played at the Triple-A level; Cashner appeared in six games at Double-A and five games at Triple-A before he got the call.
"When you're at that Double-A level, you're just one step away," Vitters said. "Especially when you think about guys like Castro. You have a good few months and you can get called up. It's definitely exciting, and exciting to think you could get called up and do what they're doing."
There could be an opening soon. Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has a player option for 2011 that he is expected to exercise. Vitters just laughed.
He's focused on making the most of his time in the AFL. Castro and Cashner played there last year. Look what happened.
"I'm definitely looking forward to next year after missing so much time," Vitters said. "I'm going to take advantage of the offseason and get a lot of work in, and come back in the best shape I possibly can."
Does he feel he's close to getting to the big leagues?
"Yes," Vitters said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.