2019 Cubs Winter Instructs (Updated 1/22)

2019 Cubs Winter Instructs is well underway on the backfields at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa.

Instructs actually began on January 7th, but the first ten days were spent on Cubs Way orientation & player conditioning and then rain on Tuesday postponed full-scale field activities for another couple of days. 

CUBS 2019 WINTER INSTRUCTS ROSTER: 64 

The roster will be updated if there are changes. 

(Last updated 1-22-2019)

* throws or bats left 
# bats both 


PITCHERS
: 27 
Cory Abbott 
Jose Albertos
Javier Assad 
* Faustino Carrera  
Derek Casey 
Danis Correa
Yovanny Cruz
Jeremiah Estrada
Kohl Franklin  
Tom Hatch 
* Bryan Hudson
* Brendon Little 
* Brailyn Marquez 
Riley McCauley 
Tyson Miller 
Erling Moreno 
Zach Mort 
Eduarniel Nunez 
* Eugenio Palma 
Yunior Perez 
Eury Ramos 
Paul Richan 
Ethan Roberts 
Cam Sanders 
* Wyatt Short 
Niels Stone 
Riley Thompson 

CATCHERS
: 7 
Miguel Amaya 
Alexander Guerra
Orian Nunez (ex-INF) 
Tyler Payne 
Jhonny Pereda 
Henderson Perez 
* Jonathan Soto 

INFIELDERS: 19 (position played during infield practice in parenthesis)
* Aramis Ademan (SS) 
Jhonny Bethencourt (3B) 
Luis Diaz (2B) 
* Tyler Durna (1B)
# Reivaj Garcia (2B) 
Nico Hoerner (SS - see NOTE below) 
# Josue Huma (3B-SS) 
Levi Jordan (3B-2B-SS)
# Fidel Mejia (3B-1B) 
Christopher Morel (SS) 
Miguel Pabon (2B-SS)
# Yonathan Perlaza (3B-2B) 
* Luke Reynolds (1B-3B) 
Jake Slaughter (1B-3B-2B)
* Jared Young (1B-OF)
Luis Vazquez (SS) 
Luis Verdugo (SS) 
* Andy Weber (2B-SS) 
Delvin Zinn (2B-3B) 
NOTE: Hoerner did not participate with the other infielders in group infield practice on Fields #3 and #4; instead he received intense one-on-one instruction from Minor League Infield Coordinator Jonathan Mota on Field #6

OUTFIELDERS: 11
* Edmond Americaan 
* D. J. Artis  
Brennen Davis 
Jamie Galazin 
Jimmy Herron
Fernando Kelli 
Kevin Moreno 
Carlos Morfa (U. S. debut - played in DSL in 2018)
* Ezequiel Pagan 
* Cole Roederer 
Nelson Velazquez 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FIELD STAFF

FIELD COORDINATOR:
Jeremy Farrell

PITCHING COORDINATOR
Brendan Sagara 

ASSISTANT PITCHING CORDINATORS
Carlos Chantres 
Mike Mason 

HITTING COORDINATOR
Chris Valaika 

ASSISTANT HITTING COORDINATOR
Tom Beyers 

INFIELD COORDINATOR
Jonathan Mota 

OUTFIELD/BUNTING COORDINATOR
Doug Dascenzo 

BASERUNNING INSTRUCTOR
Mike Roberts 

MENTAL SKILLS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Josh Lifrak 

MENTAL SKILLS COORDINATORS
John Baker
David da Silva 
Raymond Fuentes 

COACHES
Ben Carhart (hitting coach)
Michael Carter (hitting coach) 
Keoni DeRenne (infield coach)
Steve Lerud (hitting coach)
Darnell McDonald (outfield coach)
Osmin Melendez (hitting coach)
Manny Olivera (pitching coach)
Lance Rymel (catching coach)
Anderson Tavarez (pitching coach)
Jamie Vermilyea (pitching coach)
Desi Wilson (hitting coach)
Enrique Wilson (hitting coach) 

REHAB COACH/BULLPEN CATCHER
Tyler Pearson 

TRAINING COORDINATOR
Chuck Baughman  

TRAINERS
James Edwards 
Sean Folan
Logan Severson 

STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COORDINATOR
Doug Jarrow 

STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACHES
Ryan Clausen 
Keegan Knoll
Jason Moriss 
Ryan Nordtvedt 

Comments

NOTES: OF Carlos Morfa (DSL Cubs #2) is the only 2018 DSL Cubs player who was invited to Instructs. There are no 2018-19 IFA at Instructs. INF Orian Nunez (AZL Cubs #1) is being converted to catcher. Other than LHP (ex-OF) Ruben Reyes and RHP (ex-OF) Jose Alejandro Gonzalez (who were converted to pitcher in the AZL last summer), there are no other pitcher conversions in progress at this time.

1/19 NOTE: While the other 24 infielders & outfielders were engaged in bunting practice under the tutelage of Doug Dascenzo on the half-field, the six guys with the highest exit-velo/hard contact rate (Aramis Ademan, Brennen Davis, Nico Hoerner, Christopher Morel, Andy Weber, and Jared Young) took special BP (tee-drills) on Field #1 (with Assistant Hitting Coordinator Tom Beyers) and Field #2 (with Hitting Coordinator Chris Valaika), working on striking the ball on the lower third and driving the ball in the air foul line-to-foul line.

While all six made consistent hard contact and did a nice job of spraying line-drives, Hoerner and Young are clearly way ahead of the other four. Hoerner and Young are really good hitters, and I wouldn't be surprised if both begin the 2019 season at AA. (After playing 1st base in infield practice yesterday, Young worked-out with the outfielders rather than the infielders in this morning's pre-BP fielding practice, so the Cubs apparently project him as a 1B-LF going forward).     

Ademan, B. Davis, and Hoerner continued tee-drills with Hitting Coordinator Chris Valaika on Field #5 this morning and C. Morel, J. Young, and Weber continued tee-drills with Assistant Hitting Coordinator Tom Beyers on Field #6, while the other infielders & outfielders were participating in baserunning drills with Doug Dascenzo and Mike Roberts on Field #3 and Field #4. (The catchers are usually assigned to work with pitchers in the bullpen or on the half-field, so they generally aren't available to do baserunning drills).  

Cubs Fantasy Camp arrived on the backfields (quad) at about noon, so Cubs moved Instructs operations to the other side of the UAPC, continuing work on Field #1, Field #2, and the half-field. 

23 of the 32 Cubs 2018 Rule 4 Draft (MLB First-Year Player Draft) picks are participating in Instructs. However, there are twelve 2018 Draft picks & NDFA who are not at Instructs: 

LHP Chris Allen 
INF Clayton Daniel 
1B-OF Grant Fennell (NDFA) 
OF Dalton Hurd 
C Benny Kaleiwahea (NDFA) 
C Caleb Knight (NDFA) 
LHP Jack Patterson
RHP Jake Reindl
LHP Josh Sawyer 
RHP Carlos Vega 
RHP Blake Whitney 
NOTE: OF Drew Wharton retired 

And again, there are - NO - 2018-19 IFA at Instructs, and there is only one player at Instructs who spent the 2018 season in the DSL (OF Carlos Morfa). 

By comparison, there were two 2017-18 IFA (SS Fabian Pertuz and SS Luis Verdugo) and 18 players (Bruzual, Y. Cruz, L. Diaz, Fernandez, Gaitan, Huma, Kelli, R. Lopez, Matos, C. Morel, O. Nunez, Pacheco, C. Paula, H. Perez, Soto, Tejada, Vargas, and Verenzuela) who spent the 2017 season in the DSL at post-2017 Instructs. 

Last day of Instructs will be February 5th, as the Cubs minor leaguers will have to make-room for the big leaguers (Cubs MLB pitchers & catchers report on 2/12 - first field work-out is 2/13).  

There will be a ten-day minor league pre-season mini-camp on the Riverview backfields (quad) beginning on 2/20 (after the big leaguers move from the backfields to Field #1 and Field #2 for work-outs and to Sloan Park for MLB Cactus League games), and then Minor League Camp (minor league Spring Training) officially begins on the Riverview backfields (quad) the week of March 4th.   

With the Cubs moving Instructs from September to January, it will be very difficult for the Cubs Fantasy Camp to continue at Riverview/Sloan going forward, unless it's moved to December and/or to another venue in the area (Fitch Park & HoHoKam maybe?).  

Big-time BP power display by Alexander "El Increible Hulk" Guerra, Nelson Velazquez, and Carlos Morfa on Field #5 today... Tyler Payne has been added to Instructs roster (see UPDATED ROSTER in original post above)...   

BP ASSIGNMENTS
NOTE: These group assignments are generally the same every day

FIELD #4 

GROUP 1
Edmond Americaan 
D. J. Artis 
Aramis Ademan 
Jimmy Herron 
Yonathan Perlaza 

GROUP 2
Reivaj Garcia 
Josue Huma 
Fidel Mejia 
Ezequiel Pagan 

GROUP 3
Miguel Amaya 
Orian Nunez 
Miguel Pabon 
Luis Verdugo 
 
FIELD #5 

GROUP 1
Fernando Kelli 
Kevin Moreno 
Luis Vazquez 
Delvin Zinn 

GROUP 2
Luis Diaz 
Carlos Morfa 
Jake Slaughter 
Nelson Velazquez 

GROUP 3
Jamie Galazin 
Alexander Guerra 
Cole Roederer 
Jonathan Soto 

FIELD #6 (KinaTrax Motion Capture optical camera array)

GROUP 1:
Jhonny Bethencourt 
Brennen Davis 
Nico Hoerner
Christopher Morel 

GROUP 2
Tyler Durna 
Luke Reynolds
Jared Young 
Andy Weber 

GROUP 3
Levi Jordan 
Jhonny Pereda 
Henderson Perez 
Tyler Payne 

1/28 INSTRUCTS UPDATE: Nico Hoerner is participating in BP, baserunning drills, and infield practice, but he is (apparently) unable to throw overhand (he's tossing the ball underhand only). Also, he's been working out at 2B (not SS) the last few days.  

The only infielders working out at SS at Instructs today were Aramis Ademan, Levi Jordan, Christopher Morel, Luis Vazquez, and Luis Verdugo. (Jordan has also worked-out at 3B and 2B previously, but the other four have played only SS). 

EXTENSIVE INFIELD PRACTICE TODAY ON FIELD #5 & FIELD #6:  
1B: Tyler Durna, Luke Reynolds, Jake Slaughter, and Jared Young 
2B: Luis Diaz, Reivaj Garcia, Nico Hoerner, Miguel Pabon, Andy Weber, and Delvin Zinn 
3B: Jhonny Bethencourt, Josue Huma, Fidel Mejia, and Yonathan Perlaza  
SS: Aramis Ademan, Levi Jordan, Christopher Morel, Luis Vazquez, and Luis Verdugo

So Phil, who has impressed you on the Instructional group?

SS Miguel Pabon was struck on the nose by a chopper that took a bad hop during infield practice on Field #4 at Instructs Friday morning. He remained in a sitting position in the outfield grass for about five minutes, and while there was a lot of blood, he eventually left the field under his own power.  

Nico Hoerner still not throwing at Instructs (underhand tosses only), although if there is a physical issue it certainly isn't affecting his hitting. He's been raking every day in BP with hard contact foul-line to foul-line.

SS Aramis Ademan was on "limited activity" Friday, helping out the coaches but not participating in any drills. 

Phil, who has impressed you in the Instructs?

HAGSAG: Well, first of all, the pitchers haven't thrown any "live" BP so I can't tell you much about them from PFPs, long-toss, and bullpen sessions I can only see from a side-view. 

As far as the position players are concerned, I would say the top dozen at Instructs have been: 

1. Miguel Amaya, C - outstanding all-around catching prospect with emerging plus HR power 
2. Nico Hoerner, 2B-SS - plus bat-speed with a power-type swing-path, uses the entire field foul line-to-foul line, has above-average speed and is a savvy baserunner, is a solid middle-infielder but isn't throwing overhand at Instructs (has been tossing the ball underhanded only)
3  Cole Roederer, CF-LF - really good hitter with HR power and is OK in CF but is best in LF
NEXT THREE:
4. Brennen Davis, CF - raw five-tool OF needs reps (and must stay healthy) but he put on muscle during off-season 
5. Aramis Ademan, SS - has plus bat speed and is a solid all-around defensive SS but was overmatched at Hi-A in 2018
6. Jared Young, 1B-LF - best pure hitter at Instructs but is limited to 1B-LF 
NEXT THREE: 
7. Nelson Velazquez, CF - has mechanical issues with stride & swing but has big-time HR power and can play all three OF slots 
8. Christopher Morel, SS-3B - high-energy player with plus bat speed & plus arm but he has problems maintaining arm slot (tends to drop to sidearm)
9. Jimmy Herron, CF - rumored to need TJS last June but didn't and no problems with arm are evident now and he shows improved strength & HR pop 
NEXT THREE: 
10. Andy Weber, 2B - lanky infielder with soft hands and a good hitter, he has worked-out a bit at SS but 2B is his best position 
11. Jonathan Soto, C - clearly the next-best catching prospect behind M. Amaya
12. Carlos Morfa, RF - EXTREMELY raw but combines speed, arm, and plus HR power 

OTHER OBSERVATIONS: 

Delvin Zinn and Levi Jordan project as utility infielders, but both work hard and are fundamentally sound in all phases of the game.

Alexander Guerra has plus HR power and is a solid receiver and should be the #1 catcher at South Bend in 2019

Edmond Americaan is a toolsy CF with a solid line-drive stroke and above-average arm and speed, and right now he is probably ahead of D. J.  Wilson, Kelli, Artis, and Singleton but behind B. Davis, Roederer, Velazquez, and Herron as far as Cubs CF prospects are concerned

Yonathan Perlaza makes hard contact from both sides of the plate but struggles defensively (big-time) at both 2B and 3B, so probably should move to LF  

Tyler Durna has one of those really pretty LH swings and he is a better hitter than what he showed at Eugene, although he is strictly a 1B defensively

Jhonny Bethencourt is a bat-first utility infielder but he can rake (albeit without much HR power) 

Fernando Kelli is VERY fast but he has really struggled with his hitting at Instructs and defense in CF needs work as well 

Thanks for the expert scouting report.

Hellllooooooo AzPhil,

Glad to  be reading your observations again. Despite this winter pretty much cementing there should be a labor war a’comin, I’m willing to get excited about some Cubs prospects until further notice.

Is Jose Gutierrez not participating in instructs? Que pasa? 

KKvG: Jose Gutierrez wasn't invited to Instructs.

Other notable MIA (among position players) who might have been invited but were not include D. J. Wilson, Wladimir Galindo, Kevonte Mitchell, Jonathan Sierra, Christian Donahue, Austin Filiere, Brendan Hughes, Rafael Narea, Chris Singleton, Clayton Daniel, Grant Fennell, and Carlos Pacheco.  

And of course there is only one 2018 DSL Cubs position player at Instructs, and that is RF Carlos Morfa. No 2018 DSL pitchers and no SS Fabian Pertuz or CF Ricardo Verenzuela (both were at AZ Instructs post-2017). And no 2018-19 IFA (including Gallardo, Lopez, Machado, or R. Morel), either.      

It doesn't always mean something when a player isn't invited to Instructs and likewise it doesn't necessarily mean something when a player is invited, but generally the Cubs make sure that the guys the Cubs consider to be their best position player prospects below AA are definitely there. 

Interesting, those guys better get to work! 

The Cubs have signed 24-year old RHP Robert Robbins to a minor league contract.

The 6'4 200 Florida-native pitched at D-3 Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, NJ) for four seasons (2013-16) where he set most all of the Ducks pitching records, but went undrafted in 2016.

He spent the last three seasons (2016-18) pitching in the independent Frontier League (for Joliet in 2016-17 and for Windy City in 2018). 

He was released by Windy City last July and returned to Stevens where he served as an assistant baseball coach.

He enrolled at the Driveline Baseball performance training center in Kent, WA, last November, where he used Driveline's advanced training methods to improve his FB velocity into the upper 90's.  

The Cubs saw Robbins throw at Driveline at the same time they were scouting recently signed LHP Luke Hagerty.

Robbins has been assigned to AZL Cubs #1 (Hagerty was assigned to AA Tennessee), so it's fairly obvious that the Cubs see Robbins as a long-shot project.  

Also, because this is Robbins' first contract with an MLB organization, he will not be eligible to be a minor league free-agent until post-2025. 

nice.  hope he has fun...hell, hope he makes it.

similar, but unrelated, kevin millar went from undrafted to indie ball to the world series...made a few dollars, too.  now he gets to embarrass and confuse chris rose for a living.

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  • bob costas and john smoltz sang the 7th...neet.

    never forget this legendary costas moment...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqLxzOWW_M8

    crunch 1 min 30 sec ago view
  • he played 2nd (not that well) when he first came up when maddon wasn't busy trying to make lineup space for jonathan herrera.

    it's one of those things where baez is more talented, but that talent allows him to play 2nd as well as SS while russell excells at SS compared to his play at 2nd.

    that said, if they decide baez is in a groove they might shift russell to 2nd anyway... *shrug*

    crunch 34 min 42 sec ago view
  • n.hoerner took one off the wrist and was removed from the smokies game.  boo.

    also, cory abbott had another good outing.

    crunch 50 min 30 sec ago view
  • I was thinking the same thing.  Has Addy taken any reps at 2nd? 

    Sonicwind75 52 min 4 sec ago view
  • No way in hell should they move Baez off of shortstop when Russell in back.

    Hagsag 1 hour 5 min ago view
  • rizzo did a good baseball thing.  hopefully more of that will follow.  HR #195 career.

    maeda kinda sucks tonight.  he picked a great night for it.

    crunch 1 hour 27 min ago view
  • Thanks PHIL!

    A killer ASS.

    Jake Stinnett on the Cubs radar anymore?

    The E-Man 1 hour 48 min ago view
  • crowd is heavily sparce for a LAD/CHC night game except for the bleachers...even if it is a cold april night.

    crunch 2 hours 13 min ago view
  • David Bote to the Paternity Leave List and LHP Randy Rosario is recalled from Iowa, so the Cubs will apparently go with a nine-man bullpen and a three-man bench while Bote is absent. 

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 36 min ago view
  • Crying poor is more acceptable than honesty, if honesty would note a "gentleman's agreement" between the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and Red Sox to not go over the spending limits.

    In the highly unlikely case that's in play.

    tim815 9 hours 8 min ago view
  • I agree that for only 3 games, taking into consideration option years and 40-man roster makes complete sense.  Guess I'm still a little peeved about the Ricketts crying poor when they more than likely have a lamp not being used that costs more than $25k. 

    Sonicwind75 10 hours 2 min ago view
  • VA PHIL: It's not better to be a cheetah if you end up with a suspension that keeps you off the savannah for 80 games.  

    Arizona Phil 11 hours 47 min ago view
  • Rob Richardson 12 hours 16 min ago view
  • As long as you're one of the faster gazelles, it's probably ok!

    Charlie 12 hours 26 min ago view
  • "Best comp is a juvenile Thomson's Gazelle on the African savannah."

    It's better to be the cheetah in that scenario.

    VirginiaPhil 12 hours 45 min ago view
  • Thanks, Phil.

    K Dub 16 hours 54 min ago view