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

PITCHERS

IOWA:
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)

TENNESSEE:
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

DAYTONA:
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

PEORIA:
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

BOISE/MESA:
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

=======================

CATCHERS

IOWA:
Jake Muyco
Tony Richie
* Alan Rick

TENNESSEE:
Matt Canepa
* Steve Clevenger
* Mark Reed

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

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

BOISE/MESA:
Carlos Guevara
* Alvaro Sosa

=====================

INFIELDERS

IOWA:
# 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)

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

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

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

BOISE/MESA:
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)

=======================

OUTFIELDERS

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

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

DAYTONA:
* Kyler Burke
* Leon Johnson
* Brian Leclerc
Ty Wright

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

BOISE/MESA:
* Nelson Perez
# Andres Quezada
Kevin Soto
* Luke Sommer

====================

THE "MILK CARTON GANG"

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.

.

Comments

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...

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/bas...

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 status...mom, apple pie, Cubs, Wrigley gum(field)...

Anyway, off my soap box. Here's the link:
http://www.wrigley.com/wrigley/contact_us.asp

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.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-ro...

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. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3281512

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.

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  • early tim tebow stuff rolling in...

    ran a 6.7 60yd (above average)...shagging flies in RF and showed off a rather impressive arm...

    live batting practice to come soon.

    crunch 7 min 21 sec ago view
  • LHP Clayton Richard (released by the Cubs earlier this month) is pitching very well as a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres and could be a good candidate to get traded to a contender looking for a veteran SP before tomorrow night's post-season roster eligibility deadline.

    Because they released him, the Cubs are paying most of Richard's 2016 salary (the Cubs are on the hooks for $2M, minus the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary that is paid by the Padres).

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 32 min ago view
  • it is honestly awesome (for real) that anyone would even have a strong opinion on AZL playoffs. i guess if you invest enough time watching it, you want to see a fair/just playoff structure.

    plus, the kids deserve it.

    crunch 1 hour 32 min ago view
  • The AZL team with the best record over the course of the full 2016 AZL season and the only AZL team to play .600 ball (the AZL Dodgers) did not qualify for the AZL playoffs, and the AZL East Division team with the best record over the course of the full season (the AZL Athletics) did not qualify for the AZL playoffs, either. 

    That's because of the ridiculous "split season" schedule most of the minor leagues now play, a stupid system that rewards mediocrity at the expense of the worthy. 

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 39 min ago view
  • Despite good movement on his fastball, I think location kept him from getting Ks. Left some pitches up and away that got hammered up and away. Then of course Travis Wood gave up the 2-run double in the 7th, but both runs counted against Arrieta.

    Charlie 2 hours 15 min ago view
  • "i'm gonna make you my main squeeze one day, bro. save the date."

    This level of discourse is #charming.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 2 hours 16 min ago view
  • I would be having this discussion with anyone who (a) blathered on ad nauseum about the topic. (See, "Olt, Mike, not given an opportunity") or (b) responded directly to what I posted (which you did).

    Have a nice day.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 2 hours 19 min ago view
  • what would you do without me? aside from having your posting content here cut by 75%+?

    i'm gonna make you my main squeeze one day, bro. save the date.

    crunch 2 hours 22 min ago view
  • In this instance, yes, I care more about the result of this big thing that isn't really a big thing.

    #crunchsplaining

    #willlistentojeffsullivanmorethanyou

    #blessyourheart

    #hitler

    #tcrmartyr

    #billyhamiltonwar

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 2 hours 22 min ago view
  • Two things:

    Fangraphs WAR #s include baserunning and Hamilton is elite at that. He leads in SBs with the 54 and and has an 87% rate which is really good. I'm sure once he gets on base he's able to take the extra base quite often too. Both those things will up his overall WAR value.

    The differences between BR and FG WAR is pretty well documented online and thus If there are discrepancies it's fairly easy to figure out why. It's fairly well accepted that BR WAR is fine as a snapshot but FG is better at predicting future value.

    johann 2 hours 27 min ago view
  • i have no doubt at all you quit reading at that point. you're very enamored with outcomes without caring what it takes to get there.

    the fact it's exploitable, especially without someone to cover the running game for him, as well it's evolution in how people are testing possible exploits is interesting to some people...to me...i'm some people...hurrah.

    some people want to check the boxscore to see who won, some want to know how it went down.

    crunch 2 hours 39 min ago view
  • I read it as him saying it's not really that much of a concern and that the one time it really cost Lester, vs. K.C., was an anomaly.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 2 hours 45 min ago view
  • if jeff says it, it's cool...when i say it, it's straight from the mouth of hitler.

    aside from the lack of jeff touching on the insane leads runners take and lester's inability to throw if he's fielding, this is a lot of what i've said about the issue.

    exploitable, needs his own personal catcher to control his shortcomings, relies on his ability to get outs along with his personal catcher keeping runners in check before things become further exploited...

    crunch 2 hours 47 min ago view
  • That would be Rice Krispy Treat

    The E-Man 4 hours 5 min ago view
  • "Crunch's cousin"

    Butterfinger or Baby Ruth?

    VirginiaPhil 4 hours 19 min ago view
  • I saw the first three innings and the last three, so I didn't see Arrieta get hit. His stuff looked nasty at first...what happened? Any insight from anyone who watched?

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 4 hours 31 min ago view