More Than a Very Minor Matter

Not counting NRI RHP Mike Smith (who flunked his physical and got released the day the pitchers & catchers reported in February), the Cubs made their first roster cuts today, sending nine players to the minor league camp at Fitch Park.

Somewhere upwards of around 150 Cubs minor leaguers report to Fitch Park at the beginning of March each year, as the "big league" club moves a half-mile up Center Street to HoHoKam Park and begins Cactus League play.

The minor leaguers at Fitch Park are divided up into five groups (or squads) that correspond to the Cubs minor league clubs at Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria, plus the short-season clubs (Boise/Mesa combined) which is also the Extended Spring Training (EXST) team and Daytona/Peoria replacement cadre that is based at Fitch Park during April-May.

The minor league managers assigned to each club during the season command the corresponding "group" at Minor League Camp (so Pat Listach is in charge of the AAA group, Buddy Bailey is in charge of the AA group, Jody Davis is in charge of the Daytona group, Ryne Sandberg is in charge of the Peoria group, and Tom Beyers and Franklin Font are jointly in charge of the Boise/Mesa group).

Thus there are five squads (groups) of Cubs minor leaguers at Fitch Park right now, but there are only 4-1/2 fields (the 5th is a "half-field" infield-only that is limited to Pitchers Fielding Practice, and bunting and base-running drills), so horns are sounding and the players are constantly running from field-to-field for the next drill, sort of like a Chinese Fire... well, you get the drift. 

With most of what will eventually be the Iowa Cubs initially in "big league" camp with Lou Piniella's Chicago Cubs, the Minor League Camp rosters are very-much subject to change, and the players know it.

Many of the players who are initially assigned to the Iowa (AAA) group at the beginning of Minor League Camp will get demoted one level or even possibly released as the players cut from big league camp begin to trickle down Center Street to Fitch Park from HoHoKam.

And as players are demoted from "big league" camp to AAA, and some of the players initially assigned to AAA get demoted to AA, some of the players who were initially assigned to AA get demoted to Daytona, some who were initially assigned to Daytona get demoted to Peoria, and so forth down the line. It runs downhill.

There are only 24 regular season roster slots available at Iowa and Tennessee, and only 25 at Daytona and Peoria, so the competition for jobs at Minor League Camp is intense.

And so you can expect to see maybe as many as a dozen or more players who are presently at Minor League Camp at Fitch Park get released at the end of Spring Training (or EXST), in many cases just because there is simply no room for them on any of the Cubs minor league regular season rosters. A player can do OK, but still get caught by a number's game at the end and get cut.

Here are the CUBS MINOR LEAGUE CAMP ROSTERS (all five groups) as of today (and SUBJECT TO CHANGE!):

* bats or throws left
# bats both


Mitch Atkins
Matt Avery
Cory Bailey
Justin Berg
* Derrick Ellison
Jesse Estrada
Jim Henderson (limited physical activity - unknown-type injury)
Mark Holliman
Grant Johnson
* Geoffrey Jones (just got sent down today)
* Scott Koerber
* Tim Layden
* J. R. Mathes
Ryan Meyers
* Ryan O’Malley
Billy Petrick (just got sent down today)
Rocky Roquet
* Chris Shaver (had shoulder surgery last June)

Todd Blackford (had TJ surgery last June)
Esmailin Caridad (just got sent down today)
Jose Ceda (just got sent down today)
Michael Cooper (had labrum surgery last May)
* Darin Downs
* Casey Lambert
Alessandro Maestri
Billy Muldowney (had TJ surgery last August)
* Jeremy Papelbon
Mike Phelps
Gregory Reinhard
* Jayson Ruhlman
Joel Santo
* Chris Siegfried
* Donald Veal
Tanner Watson

Alberto Alburquerque
* Zach Ashwood
Miguel Cuevas
Rafael Dolis (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
Marcus Hatley
* Arik Hempy
Robert Hernandez
Yuri Higgins
Jordan Latham
Matt Maradeo
* Mark Pawelek
Jose Pina (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
* James Russell
Audy Santana (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
Stephen Vento

Ryan Acosta
* Michael Bunton
Alberto Cabrera
Chris Huseby
Simon Lee
Andrew McCormick
Jon Mueller (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
John Muller
Blake Parker
Cedric Redmond
Dae-Eun Rhee
Chris Rivera
* Dustin Sasser
Harol Tolentino

Francisco Acosta
* Jeffry Antigua
Rogelino Carmona
Eduardo Figueroa
Yohan Gonzalez
Kevin Kreier
Scott Meyer
Craig Muschko
* Taylor Parker (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
Hernan Ramos
Carlos E. Rojas
Ryan Searle
Jose Severino
Larry Suarez



Jake Muyco
Tony Richie
* Alan Rick

Matt Canepa
* Steve Clevenger
* Mark Reed

Welington Castillo (just got sent down today)
* Matt Hudgins
* Blake Lalli

Josh Donaldson (just got sent down today)
Carlos Perez
Roberto Sabates

Carlos Guevara
* Alvaro Sosa



# Matt Craig (1B)
* Kyle Reynolds (3B)
Robinson Chirinos (2B)
Carlos R. Rojas (SS)
# Bobby Scales (3B-2B) - just got sent down today
Joe Simokaitis (SS)
* Nate Spears (2B)

Brian Dopirak (1B)
Josh Lansford (3B)
* Ryne Malone (2B)
# Matt Matulia (SS)
Jonathan Mota (SS)
* Jeffrey Rea (2B)

Darwin Barney (SS)
Russ Canzler (1B)
* Dylan Johnston (2B-SS)
# Nathan Samson (2B-SS)
Marquez Smith (3B)
Tony Thomas (2B)

# Marwin Gonzalez (SS)
Gian Guzman (SS)
# Jose Made (2B)
Jovan Rosa (3B)
* Drew Rundle (1B-OF)
Josh Vitters (3B)

Starlin Castro (SS)
John Contreras (3B)
# Dwayne Kemp (2B) - speaks Dutch, communicates mainly by sign-language
* Bryan Jost (1B) - limited physical activity - knee surgery rehab
Junior Lake (SS)
Elvis Lara (2B)



* Matt Camp
* Corey Coles
# Min-Kyu Sung
# Andres Torres (just got sent down today)
# Chris Walker

* James Adduci
Yusuf Carter
* Tyler Colvin (just got sent down today)
Ryan Harvey
* Jonathan Wyatt

* Kyler Burke
* Leon Johnson
* Brian Leclerc
Ty Wright

* Cliff Andersen
Brandon Guyer
* Clark Hardman
Jesus Reyes (limited physical activity – injury rehab)

* Nelson Perez
# Andres Quezada
Kevin Soto
* Luke Sommer



I have not seen the following players on the field at Fitch Park so far. Each was listed as a minor league player in the Cubs organization as of 2-5-08. 

Possible reasons for absence:

1. Player is injured to the extent that he is not able to participate even in a limited form, or

2. Player could have failed to report to camp, or

3. Could have reported but failed his physical and got released, or

4. The player could have retired, or

5. Maybe the player received permission from the Cubs to report to camp late due to a visa problem, or because the player is attending college, or ???

WHEREBOUTS...  UNKNOWN (to me, anyway):
Luis Bautista, C-1B
Marco Carrillo, RHP
Hung-Wen Chen, RHP
Rafael Cova, RHP
* Jeff Culpepper, OF
Dumas Garcia, RHP
Kitt Kopach, RHP
Oswaldo Martinez, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
Mario Mercedes, C
* Billy Mottram, 3B
Chris Robinson, C
Issmael Salas, INF
* Marc Sawyer, 1B
Chi-Hsiang Wen, OF

There are two other players who are listed as "active" in the Cubs minor league system as of 2/5/08, but both are (unfortunately) in reality functioning as de facto Spring Training assistant instructors.

Danny Fatheree was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS, and he spent several seasons in the Astros organization but never got out of AA. Danny was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs this past off-season (possibly at the suggestion or request of KW?) after missing most of the past three seasons with a life-threatening illness that killed two of his uncles. He must weigh well in excess of 300 pounds, and although he was signed as a player, he mainly just throws BP for Peoria--all while wearing his catcher's mitt!

RHP Leo Perez (a converted SS) is another player who has been injured the past couple of years, and he is unable to throw a ball more than about ten yards. So he is working as an "assistant coach," hitting ground balls to the kids in the Boise/Mesa group.



Great post Phil...loved the part about the Dutch guy! Is Jeremy Papelbon any relation to the Boston Pitcher?

Yes... they are brothers.

Jeremy also has a twin brother (Joshua) who pitches in the Red Sox minor league system.

Re: More Than a Very Minor Matter

Great post Phil...loved the part about the Dutch guy! Is Jeremy Papelbon any relation to the Boston Pitcher?


RICH: Jeremy is Jonathan's younger brother. The Cubs used Papelbon mainly as a lefty reliever his first two seasons in the organization, but word is he will be moved to the starting rotation full-time in 2008.

Dwayne Kemp (Netherlands) is the second player the Cubs have signed out of the MLB European Baseball Academy in Italy. The first was RHP Alessandro Maestri (who pitched for Team Italy in the WBC a couple of years ago), and he is progressing nicely through the Cubs system as a right-handed reliever/set-up man.

The Cubs have tried very hard to get more "international" players in their system over the past couple of years, hiring former Cubs LHP Steve Wilson to be their Pacific Rim Scouting Coordinator (Wilson is married to a Taiwanese woman and lives in Taiwan), and signing players out of Australia (RHP Ryan Searle), South Korea '(RHPs Simon Lee and Dae-Eun Rhee and OF Min Kyu Sung), Taiwan (RHP Hung-Wen Chen and OFs Chi Hsiang Wen and Hae-Siang Kook), and Japan (OF Kosuke Fukudome and RHP Shingo Takatsu), besides the two players signed out of Europe (Kemp and Maestri).

The Cubs have also established a second team in the Dominican Summer League (DSL Cubs #2) that will begin play in 2008.

When and if it becomes possible to sign players out of China (probably not until after the Beijing Olympics), expect the Cubs to be at the front of that line. Two players from the Chinese National team (RF Qi Ze and catcher Huo Guo-chen) spent a month at Cubs EXST at Fitch Park last April, and the Cubs have a good relationship with Team China Head Coach Jim Lefebvre and Pitching Coach Bruce Hurst.  

Thank you for the additional info. I was looking up Papelbon's minor league numbers and they looked pretty good. Nice strikeout to walk ratio. Are the Cubs pretty high on this kid? I wonder if they will give him the same fast track to the Majors that his brother got?

It's great news about the investment in international scouting. Let's hope they continue that trend (nobody tell Zell that it costs money!)

i cant even begin to cover the drama and points in this collection of blurbs...

AZ Phil,

Why did the front office flip of Listach and Bailey? It seemed both did a respectable at their respective levels last year.

Don't know if this idea is 3/44 here...
I just was inspired to go to the Wrigley web page and wrote a comment requesting that they consider purchasing the naming rights.

It's so obvious to me that they would come across as knights in shining armor if they did this now. Imagine national headlines, espn, etc. Should even bump up their sales. They could move into all-American-type, apple pie, Cubs, Wrigley gum(field)...

Anyway, off my soap box. Here's the link:

Well, I think it's a good idea. Wrigley has done well that last five years. The stock is at $58, up from $42, with a market cap of $16 billion. The Trib, on the other hand, is at $33 with a market cap of $3.9 bil, down from $51 five years ago.

So, it looks like Wrigley sure can afford to buy the naming rights and if they were smart they would. Like you said, the earned media coverage they would get alone would be worth the price, they would be buying the best part of this (loser) franchise with none of the overhead usually involved, and they would cement themselves as eternally beloved Chicago good-guys.

I say kudos for you Jim Henry for not giving in, everytime a package is offered for Roberts the O's and Angelos keep requesting an additional player. Now the O's want 5-6 players for Roberts. I can live with Derosa and Theriot. Angelos and McPhail are full of S*#%T.

Re: More Than a Very Minor Matter

Submitted by Chifan on Fri, 03/07/2008 - 11:11pm.

AZ Phil, Why did the front office flip of Listach and Bailey? It seemed both did a respectable at their respective levels last year.


CHI FAN: I suspect it had something to do with Pat Listach's not-too-secret ambition to be a major league manager, and managing in AAA would help his resume. He already has had an opportunity to manage in the AFL, and that will help his cause, too.

Although Buddy Bailey is a good minor league player development guy, and even though he did a fine job at AAA Iowa last season, I doubt very much that he has any aspirations to be a big league manager. He's past 50 and seems to have settled into life as a career minor league manager. He'll probably get back to AAA again eventually if he wants that, or maybe he'll become a scout, or maybe he'll go back to being a roving minor league catching instructor.

How long do you think Sandberg is going to be content as he Peoria manager? I realize that there are others 'in front of him', but I was surprised to see him not promoted this year.

AZ Phil,

I thought I read where O'Malley had signed with a team in the Northern or Frontier league?

Arizona Phil --

Very insightful! There are a number of other players who appeared in the Cub minors last year who aren't mentioned. Are these players missing as well?

Pitchers: Corey Bachman, Michael Bartek, Oscar Bernard, Julio Castillo, Michael Christi, Brad Clipp, Rafael Cova, Junniol Lami, Jose Pena, Charlie Platt, Paul Schappert, Brandon Taylor, Scott Taylor, Donnie Walters, Matt Weber

Infielders: Patrick Brooks, Alberto Garcia, Bill Moss, Derek Schermerhorn, Jemel Spearman, Cesar Valentine

Outfielders: Alfred Joseph, Andrew Lopez

Troy Patton is getting shoulder surgery.

I wonder if there is going to be a rash of articles about how McPhail should have waited until ST to trade Tejada, like there were when the Mitchell report came out.

Not sure if that will create more impetus for a Roberts trade, but it couldn't hurt.

What are the chances this has something to do with the Roberts trade slipping away?
And yet MacPhail admits he knew there were problems with Patton before he made the deal.

It was ever thus with the new Orioles GM.

Minor Matter

Submitted by Alex Dimm on Sat, 03/08/2008 - 7:16am.

Arizona Phil -- Very insightful! There are a number of other players who appeared in the Cub minors last year who aren't mentioned. Are these players missing as well?

Pitchers: Corey Bachman, Michael Bartek, Oscar Bernard, Julio Castillo, Michael Christi, Brad Clipp, Rafael Cova, Junniol Lami, Jose Pena, Charlie Platt, Paul Schappert, Brandon Taylor, Scott Taylor, Donnie Walters, Matt Weber

Infielders: Patrick Brooks, Alberto Garcia, Bill Moss, Derek Schermerhorn, Jemel Spearman, Cesar Valentine Outfielders: Alfred Joseph, Andrew Lopez


ALEX: All of the players on your list were released during the off-season except Cova (see "Milk Carton" list), Castillo, Lami, and Pena (assigned to Cubs Dominican Academy), Weber (retired and is playing college basketball), and Scott Taylor (50-day prohibited substance suspension, will be eligible to return to Active List on May 20th).

Thank you for the assist! Maybe I'm dreaming, but I know I saw Rafael Cova on the "Milk Carton" list last night, but today I'm not spotting the name.

Thank you keeping an eye on Minor League Camp. Never having made it out to Arizona in the spring, the team has always been a mystery. This post, as much of your work, is very helpful.

Re: More Than a Very Minor Matter

Submitted by George Altman on Sat, 03/08/2008 - 2:03am.

AZ Phil, I thought I read where O'Malley had signed with a team in the Northern or Frontier league?



GEORGE: Ryan O'Malley is definitely at Cubs Minor League Camp with the AAA Group (or at least he was as of yesterday!). He signed with the Schaumburg Flyers (Northern League) during the off-season, but apparently he's back with the Cubs now.

O'Malley WAS a minor league FA after last season, and he was NOT on a Cubs minor league roster as of 2/5/08, so he apparently signed a minor league contract with the Cubs sometime in the last month. If he gets released prior to the start of the season (which is quite possible), he'll probably have no trouble re-signing with the Flyers. But for now, he's with the Cubs.

Besides O'Malley, the Cubs signed LHP Derrick Ellison (Joliet - Northern League) and RHP Tanner Watson (Rockford - Frontier League) during the off-season. Ellison is presently assigned to the AAA group, and Watson is assigned to the AA group.

As is the case with all itinerant minor league FA pitchers, O'Malley, Ellison, and Watson are at a distinct disadvantage when competing with pitchers who are Cubs organizational guys. 

Thanks, AZ Phil.......excellent job, again!

AZ Phil, I hope you see this. I was wondering what goes on at intrasquads at Fitch. Will the various squads just face each other on those days? I will be at Fitch on what appears to be one of those intrasquad days next Monday and was just curious.

Recent comments

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  • Nah, I'll probably just contemplate how they should've done a Padres-style all-in plan.

  • of course not. maybe go ice skating and think about it a while. make advanced reservations at the hotel they're starting construction on. check new releases for possible entertainment from the movie screens they want installed. think about renting an office in the new office spaces. write a letter to the cubs requesting your favorite beer be added to the beer garden. lobby your favorite band to play the outdoor venue.

    ...and in between that maybe they can find $40-50m to invest in the product that all of this revolves around.

  • let's not get caught up on phrasing for a setup and lose the gist of the post. i don't care what one wants to call the playoff exit.

    -crapping out
    +they lost their playoff attempt

    there. now we can focus on something other than not liking the tone of a line that's setting up a point.

  • I didn't like the entire post, if that helps.

  • Making the NLCS with a young team = "crapping out of the playoffs with a young team."

  • I'm guessing 3/30 and all the two foot long hot dogs you can eat didn't work

  • Yes! In a 12-way tie for first!

  • Shit.

    Blew my prediction! I had them signing Zimmerman and trading for another arm.

  • Damn wanted Zimmermann

  • Yeah, this market. Remember when Ted Lilly signed a 4/$40m with the Cubs? It was like "Well, I guess if you can throw a ball, that's what the 3 and 4 starters are all getting." I'm glad I'm not a GM. Of course, they're spending our money...

  • in this market that seems like a decent deal relative to the market.

    given that d.price will probably get 30m-ish a year, 22m for 29yo zimm doesn't seem bad. i wouldn't complain about him suiting up for the cubs. one less option gone...

  • Zimmermann 5/$110m with Tigers. Youch.

    And the updated predications page:

  • Cubs 3B Christian Villanueva (who is out of minor league options) is hitting 358/464/500 for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League (LMP), and is leading the LMP in OBP, is second in BAvg and walks, is seventh in SLG, and is tied for 8th in HR. He also has struck out only 16 times in 175 PA. 

  • CTSteve, thanks for spelling Zimmermann correctly. We don't need another first baseman.

  • The media has linked Cueto and the Cubs approximately zero times this winter. I'm thinking there's just not a lot of interest there on the Cubs' part. It seems unlikely.

    If the Cubs miss on Price, Grienke, and Zimmerman, they will aim for a mid-rotation starter via free agency or trade. However, I think this scenario also significantly boosts the odds that they extend Arrieta.

  • The Tigers are going after Zimmermann and the Red Sox will be throwing money at Price. Bringing Cueto back to the NL with the Cubs is looking like a serious possibility. Thoughts?