Cubs Minor Leagues

The Cubs cut nine players this morning, optioning RHP Mitch Atkins to AAA Iowa and RHP David Patton to AA Tennessee, while sending pitchers Jeff Kennard and Vince Perkins, catchers Steve Clevenger and Blake Lalli, IF-OF Matt Camp, 3B Josh Vitters, and OF Brett Jackson to the Minor League Camp at Fitch Park.


So the Cubs Spring Training roster now stands at 51, including 14 Non-Roster Invitees (NRI). But there are also 150 players at Minor League Camp.


As a result of today's transactions, several players now assigned to Iowa and Tennessee will get moved to a minor league roster at a lower classification. Some might get released. (Usually about a dozen minor leaguers are released by the Cubs during the course of Minor League Camp). And as the Cubs option or send additional players to minor league camp, more minor league players will be released or will be moved downward.


Here are the Cubs minor league rosters at Fitch Park as they were this morning. All players listed were physically present. However, there will be downward movement with the arrival of the nine players cut by the Cubs this morning. For example, I did see pitchers Jeffry Antigua, Robert Hernandez, Josh Lansford, and Mike Perconte leave Field #3 (Tennessee squad) in the middle of PFP, so they probably got moved downward when Atkins, Patton, Kennard, and Perkins arrived. I don’t know who (if anyone) was cut from Iowa or Daytona, and I’m not even sure that Antigua, Hernandez, Lansford, and Perconte necessarily were demoted.


Here are the Cubs Minor League Camp rosters.

Minor League Camp opened this week, as pitchers & catchers reported to Fitch Park after the Cubs moved up Center Streert to HoHoKam Park. Other minor league players will report on Tuesday.


Here are the projected Cubs Minor League Camp rosters (142 players), the DSL Cubs Reserve Lists (two teams combined - 66 players), plus some other stuff.


We already knew about Ryne Sandberg's assignment to manage the Triple A Iowa Cubs, and today the Cubs filled in the gaps.

Affiliate Manager Pitching Coach Hitting Coach
Iowa  Ryne Sandberg Mike Mason Von Joshua
Tennessee Bill Dancy Dennis Lewallyn Tom Beyers
Daytona Buddy Bailey Tom Pratt Richie Zisk
Peoria Casey Kopitzke David Rosario Barbaro Garbey
Boise Jody Davis Jeff Fassero Ricardo Medina
AZL Cubs Juan Cabreja Rick Tronerud Desi Wilson
DSL Cubs #1 Manuel Callado Leo Hernandez Alberto Garcia
DSL Cubs #2 TBA Anderson Tavares Leo Perez

The minor league coordinators are: Dave Bialas (Minor League Field Coordinator), Mark Riggins (Pitching Coordinator), Dave Keller (Hitting Coordinator), Carmelo Martinez (Latin American Field Coordinator), Franklin Font (Roving Infield & Bunting Instructor), Bob Dernier (Roving Outfield & Baserunning Instructor), and Marty Pevey (Roving Catching Instructor). 

News like this is why December is the most magical time of the year.

- Chone Figgins loves his Orange County Angels.

"...when you find a home, you want to stay here. I love what this
organization is all about -- winning, playing hard. I love being here."

The White Sox arrive today to finish off the Cubs 10-game homestand. A win for the Cubs would mean a winning homestand at 6-4 and keep the Cubs perfect September in tact. More importantly possibly - he says facetiously -  is a win for the Cubs would tie up the season series, which in turn would tie up the decade series record, which in turn would tie up the the all-time interleague record between the two clubs. See the Cubs and White Sox have been staging their own little Spy vs. Spy since interleague play started back in 1997. Each team taking turns knocking the other out, but ultimately ending up in the same place that they started.

The Cubs throw Ryan Dempster today, the White Sox do not counter with Jake Peavy. Instead it will be rookie Carlos Torres and a 6.75 ERA in two starts. 

The minor league playoff chase has soured for the Iowa Cubs. They've dropped three in a row after winning five straight and find themselves 2.5 back and in third place with just five games left to play. Double A Tennessee has a one-game lead heading into their 5-game set versus West Tennessee(Mariners). To complicate matters, Chattanooga (Dodgers) has also moved within a game, so there will be a little scoreboard watching to go along with the dueling Tennessee's.

I'm back to being connected to the Internet world, I'm not sure if that's good or bad. While I certainly do miss whatever brilliant, well-crafted snark is coming from the comments, it was kind of nice to be untethered from the digital world. 

As for the weekend, the Cubs pulled out 2 of 3 wins from the New York Mets - and with the Rockies getting swept  - sneak to 5.5 back in the Wild Card. Important thing to remember here is they managed to score one run versus Nelson Figueroa and couldn't sweep a team missing David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Johan Santana, Oliver Perez, John Maine, or J.J Putz. Zambrano, who seems to be getting advice from Alfonso Soriano on how to play with injuries and hurt your team, got lit up for 11 hits and 3 earned runs and couldn't make it out of the 4th against the Buffalo Bisons lineup. Color me unimpressed...

The Astros show up tonight and Michael Barrett's favorite ace takes the mound - Roy Oswalt. The Cubs counter with Rich Harden, who along with Aaron Heilman, did not get traded by today's deadline. I didn't really think the Twins would give up anything to grab Harden, they're just not a team to cough up prospects, but why Aaron Heilman is still wasting space is unfathomable.

Theriot, Bradley, Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, Fox, Baker, Hill go tonight.

Some minor league and roster move info after the jump...

The Cubs purchased the contract of RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx from the Victoria Seals of the Golden Baseball League last week. Bibens-Dirkx is a former member of the Seattle Mariners organization (16th round pick in 2006 out of the University of Portland), who was released by the Mariners at the end of Minor League Camp this past April. He will be assigned to the Cubs Peoria affliate in the Midwest League, where he will probably work out of the bullpen.

The Cubs acquire players from independent leagues from time-to-time, and Bibens-Dirkx is just one of many players who have received a second chance to continue their professional baseball career in recent years by playing independent ball. A typical salary for a player on an independent team is $1,000 a month, so a fellow really has to love the game to spend his summer playing indy ball.

Independent leagues are located all over North America, from Canada to Mexico, and from New England to California. Ex-major leaguers like Jacque Jones, Carl Everett, Armando Benitez, Felix Jose, Willie Banks, Keith Foulke, Pat Mahomes, and Jose Lima dot the rosters, as do a number of former Cubs minor leaguers

 

The Boise Hawks begin play tonight, kicking off their 2009 season. They will play 77 games (76 "league" games plus tonight's Opening Night exhibition game versus Treasure Valley CC) up through the first week of September, with one game scheduled each and most every day (they get only three days off for the entire season!). 

Kyler Burke had three hits including a solo HR and an RBI single, but it wasn't enough, as the Peoria Chiefs were defeated by the Kane County Cougars (Oakland A's "Lo-A" affiliate) 9-5 at the Papago Park Sports Complex in Phoenix today (and yes, I did watch both games simultaneously)...

Here is today's abridged box score (Peoria Chiefs players only)...  

Jovan Rosa had three hits, including a grand slam HR crushed over the CF fence, as the Daytona Cubs and Stocton Ports (Oakland A's Hi-"A" affiliate) played to an 8-8 tie at the Papago Park Sports Complex in Phoenix this afternoon.

A 21-year old corner infielder signed by the Cubs as a "Draft & Follow" out of Lake City JC (FL) in May 2007, Rosa led the Midwest League in doubles last season with 43.

Here is today's abridged box score (D-Cubs players only). Note that Russ Canzler and Marquez Smith have been demoted from AA Tennessee to Daytona, apparently an indication that OF Brandon Guyer and INF Jonathan Mota may have made the Tenneessee Smokies Opening Day roster.

Also, Tyler Colvin (rehabbing from Fall 2008 TJS) will be the DH with Daytona until he is ready to return to the outfield at either Tennessee or Iowa later this season.(Daytona plays in a league that uses the DH in all games, while AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa only use the DH when playing an American League affiliiate on the road).    

The Cubs made a move today to clear some much needed....minor league roster space? Rotoworld says the Oakland Athletics have acquired pitcher Rocky Roquet for the ever popular player to be named later.

Roquet, a 26-year old right-hander was always a favorite of Arizona Phil and was a non-roster invitee to camp this spring. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League the last two years and Scout.com had him at #18 in their 2008 prospect rankings

I'm not sure why the move was made unless the Cubs felt they were full at the minor league levels or Billy Beane really liked Roquet and promised a decent return for the Cubs on that ambiguous future player they'll eventually receive. Or the Cubs know they're going to have to bite the bullet on Chad Gaudin's salary and the deal will just end up being for cash...an unlikely but possible scenario.

UPDATE: Muskat also says the Cubs have released LHP Ed Campusano.  I believe over the last month the Cubs have cut ties with their top picks from 2003-2005 (Ryan Harvey, Grant Johnson and Mark Pawelek), plus pitchers Ryan Acosta, Campusano, Micahel Cooper, Jim Henderson, Jordan Latham, John Muller, Audy Santana, Harol Tolentino, catchers Mario Mercedes and Tony Richie, 1B Bryan Jost and SS Erick Almonte.

UPDATE #2: The Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita says the trade was simply due to a minor league roster crunch.

“He’s a great kid with a chance to pitch in the major leagues,” Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita said of Roquet.

 

“We were simply full and had to create (minor league roster) space.

I had so much fun watching the Iowa Cubs yesterday at Fitch Park, I decided to follow the Cubs' AAA affiliate to neighboring Tempe today as they took on the Angels AAA affiliate (the PCL Salt Lake Bees) at the Angels Minor League Complex at Diablo Park. 

While it isn't unusual for one or more Cubs major leaguers to play in a AAA game (esprcially when the big club has a night game), that wasn't the case today  

Kyle Reynolds smashed a two-run homer and Doug Deeds blasted a solo shot, but that's all the runs the Cubs could muster. And since tthe four Cubs pitchers were (mostly) ineffective, the I-Cubs lost, 7-3.

Here is today's abridged box score (Iowa Cubs players only). Some of the more observant among you might note that most all of the I-Cubs who played today were at big league camp not too long ago...  

The Cubs have released 2003 #1 draft pick OF Ryan Harvey.

The 24-year old Harvey had one of the top two or three RF arms in the organization and awesome power (he hit four home runs for Daytona in one game a couple of years ago), but he just was not a good hitter (he is a first-ball fastball hacker--247/298/448 with 83 HR and 539 strikeouts in 471 career minor league games), and he suffered from nagging injuries (knee, hamstring, back, etc) throughout his career,

Harvey's release comes almost exactly a year after the Cubs released Harvey's one-time HS teammate and fellow slugger 1B Brian Dopirak (Cubs #2 pick in 2002). Dopirak signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after he got released and spent most of the 2008 season playing in hometown Dunedin, FL. B-Dope then re-signed with the Blue Jays (he was a minor league free-agent post-2008) and got an NRI to ST with the Jays this Spring as part of the deal (although he has been returned to Tornoto's minor league camp) 

So I wouldn't be surprised if Harvey follows Dopirak to the Blue Jays organization, even if it means he has to go back to the Florida State League again (where he would play for his hometown team) in 2009, although the Jays would probably agree to give him a shot in AA first.  

Harvey's release is definitely not a surprise. He will be a minor league free-agent after this season, and was just not progressing fast enough to think that he would be a candidate to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster post-2009. So cutting him now is probably just the best thing for everybody, especially for Harve. .

Harvey was a combination RF-RHP in HS, and I had thought (and have written here at TCR) that he might be converted to pitcher at some point with the Cubs when he continually struggled as a hitter, but while the Cubs have converted more than a dozen postion players to pitcher over the past couple of years (and no organization converts position players to pitcher to the extent that the Cubs do), they never do it unless the player agrees to the move. So I think it's pretty likely that the Cubs asked Harvey to consider a move to pitcher, but he declined.  

 

-- Tigers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Astros; that's your complete list of the teams which ranked lower than the Cubs in Kevin Goldstein's organizational rankings at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required).

Goldstein's comments about the Cubs, who stood 16th in his '08 rankings:

"Josh Vitters is one of the best pure hitters in the minors; 2008 top pick Andrew Cashner's post-draft struggles were a fluke and his stuff will play; Jeff Samardzija finally began figuring things out."

"Other than Vitters, there is
really not a single hitter in this system that excites anyone; the
weakness in terms of the organization's depth is the key reason that
the long-rumored Jake Peavy deal never went down."

"Samardzija is the only player who is likely to lose his prospect status; there's no reason to see (the Cubs) moving up considerably (in the rankings)."

--We all know that spring training numbers mean next to nothing, but since Opening Day is, what, another 11 weeks away?, they're the only numbers we have, so let's enjoy them, dammit!

Minor League Camp doesn't open for another couple of weeks, but here are the projected Cubs Minor League Camp rosters for the five squads (141 players) at Minor League Camp and also the DSL Cubs Reserve Lists (two teams - 70 players).

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