Cubs Minor League Pitches & Catchers on Field at Riverview

83 pitchers and 14 catchers were on the field at  the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park this morning, as the Cubs minor league pitchers & catchers engaged in an extensive workout at Minor League Camp. The full squad will be on the field later this week, with the first minor league Cactus League games scheduled to commence on March 19th. 

Among the pitchers on the field at Riverview Park today were two ex-position players. 

6'4 230+ LHP (ex-OF) Ariel Ovando was selected by the Cubs from the Houston Astros in the AAA Phase of the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and it was reported at that time that the Cubs intended to move him to the mound. Now 21, Ovando was a one-time prized prospect, signed by the Astros as a 16-year old slugging outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, but he was unable to develop into the hitter the 'stros hoped he'd be, putting up a slash-line of 250/317/387 with 164 K in 154 games (627 PA) over four minor league seasons. 

RHP (ex-C) Mark Malave received a reported $1.6M bonus when he signed with the Cubs out of Venezuela in 2011, the highest bonus the Cubs had ever given to a teenaged international free-agent up to that point in time. He was a pudgy, beefy, switch-hitting catcher with plus-HR power (projected) prior to signing his first contract, but his catching skills were poor and so the Cubs almost immediately moved him to 3B. He didn't hit enough to stay at the hot corner, howvver, so the Cubs moved him back to catcher and he also stopped switch-hitting (batting only right-handed going forward) in 2014. Unfortunately, he was unable to smooth out his receiving flaws sufficiently to rermain a backstop or hit enough to play another position (248/347/305 with no HR in 141 career minor league games). One thing about Malave was that he's always had a plus-arm, and so now he will have a chance to demonstrate if it can be a useful tool off the mound. 

Among the catchers on the field today were ex-INF Gioskar Amaya, who was converted from 2B to catcher at AZ Instructs post-2014. He appeared to take to the position very well at that time, showing enthusiasm and looking comfortable behind the dish, and with enough arm to make all of the necessary throws. He might have to spend some time at Extended Spring Training before he will be ready to catch in AA games, but he could have a future as a catcher once he gets more experience.  

INF Jordan Hankins was converted to catcher at Instructs post-2013, but he went back to playing 3B (only) during the regular season last year at Daytona after Jeimer Candelario was sent back to Kane County and Tim Saunders retired. But then he tried catching again at Instructs post-2014, and he is back catching again at Minor League Camp this year. Hankins' future would appear to be that of a multi-positional utility player where catching is just one more thing he can do, rather than a front-line catcher. 

Catchers Tyler Alamo and Cael Brockmeyer were late additions to the big league NRI list last month, but while Brockmeyer is still with the big club, Alamo has been assigned to Minor League Camp. 

The one catcher I expected to see who was absent from the field at Minor League Camp today was Will Remillard, who is considered to be the best defensive catcher in the system, but who has battled back problems off & on going back to when he signed with the Cubs in 2012.  I thought it was odd that Remillard did not receive an NRI to Spring Training last month (he got one in 2014), so maybe the back is still an issue.  

I saw all of the pitchers I expected to see today, with five exceptions. Among those absent from the field were veteran LHRP Pedro Feliciano (reportedly signed by the Cubs in January), and RHPs Matt Brazis, P. J. Francescon, Trey McNutt,  and Yoanner Negrin. It's possible that Feliciano's contract was voided by the Cubs due to a failed physical or perhaps it wasn't approved by MLB for some reason, because  (I would think) he should have received an NRI to big league camp. McNutt had shoulder surgery post-2013 and he may not able to pitch (or maybe he has retired), but I can't account for why Brazis (acquired from Seattle for Justin Ruggiano during the off-season), Francescon and Negrin weren't present on the field with the other pitchers. Also, recently-signed veteran LHRP Phil Coke is not getting into shape at Minor League Camp, so he must be working out with the big club. 

There were only four pitchers on Limited Activity Status today (RHPs Marcelo Carreno, Dylan Cease, Trey Masek, and Erling Moreno), but I'm sure there will be more before too long. All four of the Limited Activity guys had surgery last year and aren't ready to resume full activity. However, LHP Anthony Prieto, RHP Austin Reed, and RHP Brad Renner (all of whom had TJS in 2014) were cleared for full activity today, so I guess it all really depends on the individual pitcher and how fast he can recover. 


Thanks Phil, its great to hear the minor league reports.

Hi Phil thanks for the report. I will be there on 4/2. Look forward to seeing you. Montana Bob

BOB: Sound good. I'll see you then. 

UPDATE: Matt Brazis, P. J. Francescon, and Yoanner Negrin were absent from Minor League Camp today because they made to trip to Goodyear with the big club. No news on Feliciano, McNutt. or Remillard, however. 

I'm really sad about McNutt's career. Once upon a time, I looked forward to a 5-7 years of McNutt puns in the headlines. Now the best I can hope for is a Fangraphs "McNutt: A Bust?", and even that is overdue at this point.

MINOR LEAGUE CAMP UPDATE #2: Catcher Will Remillard is on the field, but is restricted to "Limited Activity Only" and so he is not participating in drills or workouts.

And the Cubs have assigned catcher Cael Brockmeyer to Minor League Camp. Brockmeyer and fellow minor league catcher Tyler Alamo were late additions to the NRI list last month, serving as extra catchers while Cubs pitchers got into shape at big league camp. 

Still no sign of Trey McNutt or Pedro Feliciano. 

The three amigos hit their back to backs the day after I leave AZ. I'm beyond outraged. Good to know Baez hit a fastball out, actually, because he was late on everything when I saw him. And sometimes way early. Just really really out of sync.

I didn't really like Baez's swing on the homerun. (I'm getting very picky, apparently.) Looked to me like his weight was moving toward the dugout and he was almost reaching for a ball that was over the plate. His back foot frequently moves during his swing, usually out away from the plate. :(

I haven't looked at the home run but he looked like a fine mess when I saw him. I also am not sure it's the end of the line at all for him. If he's working on his mechanics it makes sense that things are a little haywire right now.

I've seen enough free-swingers to last me a lifetime during the Hendry years and Baez seems like more of the same- hacking like a lumberjack at anything close. He's no vlad. I think his problems are less mechanical and more a problem of approach and eye. If he can work on that, okay, but a lot of ball players simply don't improve in that area.

He might be the free swinging-est of them all. It's gonna be interesting!

A lot of people see A Russell moving to third, or whatever, but what little I saw he's a MLB ready shortstop today. I don't know what happens with Castro, but Russell is probably the long term SS if he proves he can hit MLB pitching, which he probably can't really demonstrate in a brief spring training run. If Baez figures things out, he'll be at second I think. The Phillies could get half an infield with an Olt+Castro for Hamels trade. I doubt the timing works for the Cubs as I doubt they'd want to move Russell up to the bigs so soon, but one never knows.

Castro to second, Russell to SS, Baez to Rangers

Three amigos 'bout the three baritones? Deep, deeper, deepest...

My favorite time of year... AZPhil report season! I didn't know Saunders retired. That's a bummer. I knew he struggled with some injuries last year and the year prior. I wonder, did anything ever come of the few guys who disappeared last year, like Brian Smith?

K-BANSAW: Word is IF-OF Tim Saunders has decided to "un-retire" and is expected to report to Minor League Camp today with the other position players. I'll let you know if he shows up. 

RHP Michael Hamann and LHP Brian Smith did not report to Minor League Camp last year, and they are no longer on any minor league reserve list. They are likely on the Voluntary Retired List, but (like Saunders) players on the Voluntary Retired List can un-retire if they so choose. 

FWIW, Korean RHP Jin-Young Kim (who signed in 2010 and then retired in 2013 after a series of shoulder problems) "un-retired" in January, and then the Cubs immediately released him. Sometimes a player on the Voluntary Retired List will request his release so that he can play in independent ball or in a foreign professional league, and as long as it's OK with the club and as long as the player isn't a "hot" prospect, the player can usually get his release if he asks for it. Sometimes a retired minor league player will agree to have his contract terminated in exchange for receiving his release, thus relieving the club of having to pay post-career college tuition if tuition reimbursement was part of the player's original contract (as it often is). 

I've met a lot of minor league players over the years, and I can tell you that playing minor league baseball can be a very expensive hobby. $10,000 doesn't go very far, and if a player has a wife and kids to support, it's sometimes necessary to retire and get a job that pays better, even though the player enjoys playing pro ball. It helps if the player has parents who are willing to offer finiancial support, or a wife or girlfriend who makes good money, but that isn't always the case. 

"It helps if the player has parents who are willing to offer finiancial support..." rex rundgren agrees. he lasted until he was 32 thanks to his dad, todd. nice guy, btw.

I don't want to work I just want to bang balls all day

Thank you as always, Phil!

Newest reports indicate they expect Turner to start season on the DL, though he is getting a second opinion before deciding his course of action. 

Olt continues to impress with two strikes.


just making Kris Bryant's return to Iowa all the more easy.

so potential 13?

C: Montero, Ross

INF: Rizzo, Alcantara, LaStella, Castro, Olt, Herrera

OF: Soler, Fowler, Coghlan, Denorfia, Sweeney

Presuming Baez and Bryant get sent down and LaStella has 3 options so he may as well. I'm guessing Herrera for now just because I don't know how much they'd trust Alcantara to play SS in a pinch. Szczur or Lake could replace Sweeney.

I gotta go with Szczur over Denorfia or Sweeney - younger, faster, pretty good eye up there, got a better story. As long as he keeps playing well this spring, I'll take a kid over the journeyman anytime. Olt looked great while I was down there but his body of work suggests he's still a question mark - I think he still needs a full solid spring to score the starting job at third. He really looks confident out there, though.

Denorfia and Sweeney have contracts and no options, young guys don't ride the bench often on wanna-be contenders. I'd bet a lot of money Denorfia makes the club.

they seem to believe in him 2.6m and supposedly part of the "veteran" presence. sweeney could be traded if they want to go with other options...he can play all 3 OF slots decently, doesn't bitch about being a bench player, is a lefty, and is only owed 2m (or 1.5m 2015 + 2.5m team option). shame ARZ doesn't need a bench OF/ welly away might not happen if even a low-market doesn't develop. too many sellers, not enough buyers. it would be nice if DET could find an interest in him...or some catcher injuries break out.

That's 5/8 of a potential playoff lineup (Montero, Rizzo, Castro, Soler, and Fowler) to me. Closer, way closer, than the Cubs have been in a while.

if bryant isn't up by end-of-season a lot of people would be shocked...might as well pencil him in.

Agreed. Good point.

His defense looks exceptional. I think he's gonna be our 3B. Though Rizzo crossed over to foul territory effortlessly on Olt's barehand play today. Rizzo is SO good.

I threw as many pick off attempts to first as Jon Lester did last year.

jon lester holding runners? haha...yeah right. wait until you see him field a bunt. that's fun times, too.

Even Matt Garza thinks that Lester sucks. Maybe we can get Maddux off the links next time it rains to do some fundamentals training workshops.

with how the ball bounces around the field in sloan park, the cubs will be lucky to get through this spring without someone screwing up a foot/ankle/knee/hip. balls play fast off the hard fields in ARZ...nothing new, but the action on the ball (even in the OF) is like the ball is solid rubber.

Do the Cubs pay Schlitter in pelts and smoking tobacco?

They will if he keeps pitching like this.

drake britton just threw a hell of an inning... 10 pitches, 8 balls, 2 strikes...1ip 0h 2bb 0k 0r that luck, though.

Woo. Win #1

been a while. screw you winter.

j.lester - 3ip 0h 0bb 2k 0r (55 pitches) m.olt - 2/3 (singles), 1k in case anyone's interested...z.rosscup - 1ip 0h 0bb 2k (3ip 0h 0bb 4k in 3 appearances, though he's working his pitch count getting those numbers)

Anything that keeps Phil Coke off the team is fine with me.

I didn't think Coke looked too bad yesterday throwing. In particular, he made the lefty he faced look easy.

As long as he is a strict LOOGY, that's fine with me. Righties have OPSd 860 and 871 vs him the last two years.

Dodger announcers said that Puig didn't hurt the fence while making the catch on the Rizzo drive. Also, said that he's better in RF because the LF isn't at risk for collisions with him but in CF both LF/RF could get hurt.

Maddon upset with Cubs' lack of fundamentals

but...the cubs way (tm)... seriously, though...the crew needs to know it's not going to be all wine and penguins from "mr fun manager"...might as well establish that early since the team's play so far has earned it. good stuff.

Kick a little ass. He's so insightful though ... knows people are reacting to 3 managers in 3 years and trying to impress. He's a master of Empathy.

Also Almora made a wonderful catch basically running straight out to center ... very difficult play and he was pretty smooth. Even looked like it caught a gust away from him at one point ...

Bears do indeed sign Rolle and Royal.

Zzzzzzx Wakes up SUPER BOWL! goes back to sleep

After this year, I'll be happy to just not see the other team charging down the field on every possession.

I wouldn't mind seeing this move, too

and yet another...

@JenLada: Hearing the #Bears are close on a 3 yr deal w/ Mason Foster. ILB has been a FA target since beginning. #NFLFreeAgency

"As the third-string catcher, Castillo has to understand he’s fighting to stay in the majors and need to follow the rules." yeah, that's cute and all, but d.ross is nothing but a receiver at this point in his career...his arm (and the threat of it's use) isn't even there anymore. sure, welly is third-string by default on this particular team, but i doubt he's gonna have a hard time staying in the majors.

He's looking like a first string catcher to me in spring so far.

That's so Lovie!!

Bucs sign S Chris Conte and DT Henry Melton

Top 50 hitting prospects heading into 2015

Bryant #1, Russell #3, Soler #5, Schwarber #11

not the greatest take I ever read, but Rosenthal takes a stab at Cubs vs White Sox this season

Kris those two weeks in Aaa in April? Learn how to f'ing throw

Seems Bryant destroyed one vs Angels at least...I'll get a highlight up when it's available

hope j.hammel turns a corner sometime soon...not so slick so far.

start buying your "soler power" stuff...should be good to go for another 5-6 years.

Will Ferrell coaching 3b for Cubs at the moment;

  3B coach holds up sign for Soler: "Don't pull a muscle"

Soler ends up launching one as well.

Bryant ground rule double.

Ferrelll having fun with signs as 3b coach, most of it can be found in twitter box.

this was earlier, nice hustle by Baez (and Soler although he should have been dead to rights)

Is that Jorge's idea of respecting 90?

some of these players having to deal with the will ferrell side show are being really good straight men for the sake of entertainment and not being a dick. those that are upset about all this can take it up with garth brooks, billy crystal, and tom selleck.

Russell 3/3 as well today.

Ferrell got an AB for Szczur, struck out on 3 pitches.

doub is fucking horrible. that is all.

Mlb game day still frozen in 4th inning. Annoying.

i think ferrell batting for sczurczrzurzur, followed by szcuzururzurz batting for himself again as if his out never happened (though it did count as an out in the inning) broke the boxscore. THANKS HOLLYWOOD (also, obama).

Bring him up!!!!

I have a small confession. I've never been a Will Ferrell fan.

He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I like him. Didn't like "Anchorman 2" though.

i'm one of those people mystified by the whole anchorman thing...not my kind of humor for part 1 or 2. that said, anyone his height with bottom teeth that jacked that gets to star in major hollywood funded films is okay with me. good for him. tall people unite.

he does more good than bad, Anchorman is highly rewatchable...Anchorman 2 missed unfortunately. I don't care enough about it to figure out why.


Brooks (Las Vegas) How long do you think it will be before we hear from Boras regarding Bryant? Seems obvious he belongs on the big league team from a baseball view, but obvious he should wait two weeks from a business view. Klaw (1:03 PM) Probably the last week of spring training. The problem is that neither side (both of which you articulated) is wrong.

David (Chicago) Have you seen or heard anything so far the spring that changes your evaluation of Schwarber sticking behind the plate? Klaw (1:04 PM) No. Nor would I expect to since 1) it's spring training and 2) spring training is about a week old.

Ari (New Rochelle) Friend of mine said Kris Bryant has more upside than Mike Trout. Thoughts? Klaw (1:10 PM) He's saying Bryant could be the best player in baseball history, then, so I'm going to say no.

How skeptical should we be that Mike Olt has either changed mechanics or had more post-concussion recovery time to the point that he will be worthy of a major league roster spot this year? Klaw (1:18 PM) Based on a few games in early March? What is the word for "most skeptical?"

Rick (Oakland) Welington Castillo is supposed to be great at blocking pitches and bad at pitch framing. What's more important? Klaw (1:19 PM) Depends on who's pitching.

Some lame questions sure, but hey could tone down the non-informative snarky answers a bit.

it's what he does...sure rubs a lot of people the wrong way though because he hates [insert your team].

doesn't phase me as much for whatever reason, I hardly like his Internet persona, but I think he's tied in quite well with a lot of good sources and does go to a lot of games to watch himself. I appreciate his wave of skepticism amongst a wave of unbridled fan enthusiasm (Junior Lake's AFL performance was one for the ages). I'm sure he could be more diplomatic about it, but that's just not what he does. But at least it's coming from a base of knowledge rather than over-opionated hackery like Mad Dog on MLB network.

one down...(realize this is a bit of a repeat)

Turner shut down for a month

Rondon, Strop, Ramirez, Motte, Grimm, Coke (presuming if he shows anyting he'll make club), ????

Wada, Jackson, Doubront, Wood for one SP spot and possibly one relief spot

Schlitter, Britton (out of options), Rosscup, and all the NRI's as well (Bard, etc)

I know AZ Phil was suggesting the Grimm to Iowa to get stretched out scenario, but haven't seen much mention of that yet from Cubs.

any thoughts on Armando Rivero's timetable to the majors?

has he even pitched this spring? looked good last year for sure and he got an NRI, right?

Doesn't look like he has gotten into a major league ST game yet: link 

well then, bullpen depth for the inevitable injury/performance breakdown. If he's not suffering from one himself right now.

tonight vs oakland.

Game is on MLB Network at 11 pm CT.

Wada pulled in the first inning after just 3 batters?

Twitter says he limped off

was dealing with a hamstring issue

That pitching stockpile is looking more like a regular rotation these days.

Looks like the 5th starter issue is sorting itself out.

"Carrie Muskat @CarrieMuskat Word from Mesa is #Cubs Wada left game with sore groin. He's to be re-evaluated" NFL Mock draft, has Bears getting a gift at #7 in WR Amari Cooper. Thinks Marriota falls all the way to #12 to Browns which would be helluva interesting if Bears passed up a QB.

From what I've read/heard my impression is that Cooper has the highest floor of any offensive player in the draft, or similar to Winston without the off-field concerns. It just seems to me WR is about the last area of need for the Bears at the moment. It would be interesting to see what they would do if he was still available. I doubt we'll get to find out, I expect him to be gone. Time will tell.

D. Willis ends comeback attempt, will retire. He was fun to watch for those few seasons.

-edit- yeah, what rob said above about d.willis retiring =p

W. Ferrell's BR page March 12, 2015: Traded to Chicago Cubs for a washing machine. March 12, 2015: Traded to Arizona Diamondbacks for a Churro Dog and D-Bat Dog.

i love this so much. awesome.

Looks like TheJedi overpaid. I guess I'll have to wait on the details about the washer before I fully commit.

That is so hilarious. "Weight - 220-ish" It would be cool if the Bears/NFL did something like this for prostate cancer. So much emphasis on Breast Cancer awareness (no less important) - but this could be a great thing for us dudes.

len and jd! woo.

Szczur hit his 2nd HR in earlier game against Indians and P. Coke had a good outing. Looks like most of the other relievers did not (Grimm, Motte and Ramirez all gave up hits and runs).

pat vinditte warming up in the A's pen, fwiw...

aww...they brought in ryan cook.

...and he's warming in the pen again. ...and he's in. sweet.

vs righty, fly out LF vs lefty, fly out RF vs switch (vin chose left handed, batter chose right handed), ground out SS that was neat showcase.

I was impressed with his location, but it's definitely not MLB stuff. On the positive, he's a LOOGY/ROOGY rolled into one roster spot. I have a feeling he'll get a cup of coffee this year.

oakland loves their freaks. hard to argue he doesn't deserve a taste if the opportunity comes because of some of his past results...but yeah, i agree that his stuff looks really ordinary and the velocity isn't impressive at all from the left side.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Wrigley Rat 13 hours 56 min ago (view)

    This site is great! It's pretty much the only Cubs site I visit daily, other than a Google search for Cubs news. 90% of the information I get on Cubs prospects is from here. Commenters are usually very respectful and it seems that most are well-informed or want to be. I'm hoping the site can continue. Thanks to everyone who contributes to its content! :)


  • George Altman 15 hours 47 min ago (view)

    I'd like to add, without meaning to take a superior attitude, that ALL the content and commentators on TCR are a step above every other Cubs Blog I've seen. I'm better informed, better briefed about not only what's happening but what's likely to happen.

    You all have made me a better Cubs fan. Whatever happens,  thank you. 


  • Charlie 20 hours 4 min ago (view)

    I will be happy to continue to do gameday posts for another season and would like to keep the site active. Thanks for your labor!

    Sorry for all the delayed and abbreviated posts at season's end, by the way.


  • fullykräusened 21 hours 22 min ago (view)

    Like the other posters, I don't post often, but have enjoyed Arizona Phil and crunch (who was right about Jason Heyward :) ). I am grateful for all the work that has gone into maintaining the site, and whatever you want to do to make it work is okay with me!


  • Cubster 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    Chiming in that TCR is still a major part of my daily Cub routine and has always been my browser homepage. The site contains much love for AZ Phil and his subtle sense of humor as the war correspondent for the Arizona Scoring Service. 

    "Just because it isn't official doesn't mean it didn't happen"


  • Hagsag 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    Thank you forTCR, and it is the first site I check daily. Please keep it going.


  • Karl Pagel Blues 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    Thank you for this site. It's the first one I turn to every single day. There may be other sites with more daily content, but there's only one TCR. Again, a big thank you to everyone actively contributing here!


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    no matter the future, i've learned a whole lot being here and i'm still learning.  phil's post earlier with the end-season instructs stats is a great example of this.  lots of love for the team, the farm system, and the game here.

    also, it looks like dusty's crew is 3 outs away from going to the WS with 5 runs to cushion.


  • George Altman 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    Please keep it going if at all possible. No other Cubs website compares. I've spent 15 years with AZ Phil, Crunch, Cubster. Don't want to see that end.


  • Alexander Dimm 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    Like the others, I don't post often, and it's not the only Cubs baseball site I read.  However, it is the first site I read each day and if I only read one, this is it.  I hope you can hang in there.  

    Cubs baseball will be a little less fun without TCR.


  • Childersb3 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    I've been reading, commenting and asking questions here for over a decade now. Cubdom wouldn't be whole without TCR.

    Hope it stays in any form possible. 

    Whatever is most manageable, cheapest, time efficient manner you.


  • bradsbeard 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    Absolutely want to see if stay if possible. 


  • Sonicwind75 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    Thank you for hosting and maintaining the site.  I don't post often but have been visiting since mid 2000s.  Really appreciate the information and community of The Cub Reporter.  I understand it can be a lot of work to maintain a site but would really hate to see it end. 


  • Hagsag 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Thank you Phil, I can see this is a work of love.


  • Wrigley Rat 2 days 19 hours ago (view)

    Cubs Reportedly Sign Powerful Infielder Alejandro Rivero Out of Indy Ball:


  • crunch 3 days 15 hours ago (view)

    * except for playing 1st base