2017 Cubs AZ Instructs Underway

77 Cubs minor leaguers have reported or will soon be reporting to the Cubs Under Armour Performance Center at Mesa Riverview Park.  

70 of the players have been assigned to Cubs AZ Instructs, and seven have been assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.

There will be no "Advanced Instructs" this year. (The Cubs and Angels fielded a "co-op" team in AZ Advanced Instructs the previous two seasons), so there are no games scheduled against other organizations. There are also no intrasquad games planned as of now (only instructional/situational "sim" games)..  

Not including players who attended AZ Instructs last year and/or Extended Spring Training earlier this year, twelve minor leaguers who played for the DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2 in 2017 will be making their U. S. debut at Instructs this year. In addition, one 2017 NDFA and two IFA signed in the 2017-18 ISP will be making their pro debut at Instructs. 

16 of the Cubs 2017 draft picks who signed are attending instructs. One (Cam Balego) is being converted from infielder to catcher.   

18 players attending instructs who finished their seasons at Eugene (Northwest League) will be arriving later this week. (The Emeralds post-season playoff run ended last Tuesday). 

Also, the seven players assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox will report the week of September 25th to prep for the AFL. 

The first work-out was this morning, including baserunning drills on Fields 3 & 6, then PFP on Fields 1 & 2, fielding practice for infielders on Field #4, fieldng practice for outfielders on Field #6, and fielding practice for the catchers in the enclosed batting cages, and finally a lengthy BP session (with coaches throwing) on Fields 3, 5, and 6.  

Here is the Cubs instructs roster: 

Tim Cossins, Field Coordinator
Jim Brower, Pitching Coordinator  
Dave Keller, Latin American Field Coordinator 
Andy Haines, Hitting Coordinator 
Jose Flores, Infield Coordinator  
Doug Dascenzo, Outfield & Baserunning Coordinator 
Mike Mason, Assistant Pitching Coordinator
Tom Beyers, Assistant Hitting Coordinator 
Ben Carhart, Hitting Coach
Jeremey Farrell, Hitting Coach 
Armando Gabino, Pitching Coach 
Osmin Melendez, Infield Coach 
Jonathan Mota, Infield Coach 
Leo Perez, Hitting Coach
Mike Roberts, Baserunning Coach
Carlos Rojas, Infield Coach 
Jovanny Rosario, Outfield Coach 
Lance Rymel, Catching Coach 
Anderson Tavarez, Pitching Coach 
Chris Valaika, Hitting Coach
Jose Zapata, Pitching Coach 
Josh Lifrak, Mental Skills Program Director
John Baker, MSP Coordinator 
Rey Fuentes, Latin MSP Coordinator 

Chuck Baughman, Rehab Training Coordinator 
James Edwards, Athletic Trainer 
Logan Severson, Athletic Trainer 
German Suncin, Athletic Trainer 

Doug Jarrow, Strength & Conditioning Coordinator 
Ryan Clausen, Strength & Conditioning Coach 
Dallas Lopez, Strength & Conditioning Coach 
Jason Morriss, Strength & Conditioning Coach 


70 players

* bats or throws left 
# bats both

Cory Abbott
Jose Albertos
* Jonathan Bruzual (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut)
Bailey Clark
Danis Correa
Yovanny Cruz (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 
Jeremiah Estrada  
* Riger Fernandez (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 
Emilio Ferrebus 
Ben Hecht 
* Bryan Hudson 
Rollie Lacy 
* Brendon Little 
Ronaldo Lopez (ex-INF - 2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 
* Brailyn Marquez
Hector Matos (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 
Erling Moreno 
Carlos Paula (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut)
Tyler Peyton 
Eury Ramos  
Nathan Sweeney 
Jesus Tejada (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut)
* Ricky Tyler Thomas 
Keegan Thompson 
Erich Uelmen 
* Didier Vargas (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 

Miguel Amaya 
Cam Balego (ex-INF)
* Michael Cruz 
Jhonny Pereda 
Henderson Perez (2017 DSL - attended EXST earlier this year)
* Jonathan Soto (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 

* Aramis Ademan (SS)
Gioskar Amaya (1B-2B-3B - missed 2017 season - February 2017 knee surgery)
Jhonny Bethencourt (2B=3B)  
Luis Diaz (2B – 2017 DSL - was at Instructs last year & EXST earlier this year) 
# Christian Donahue (2B - August 2017 NDFA - Oregon State - making pro debut)
Austin Filiere (3B) 
Luis Hidalgo (1B) 
# Josue Huma (SS - 2017 DSL - making U. S. debut) 
Joey Martarano (1B) 
# Fidel Mejia (3B)
Andruw Monasterio (2B-3B)
Christopher Morel (SS - 2017 DSL - attended Instructs last year & EXST earlier this year)
Rafael Narea (SS)
Orian Nunez (2B-3B - 2017 DSL - attended EXST earlier this year)
# Yonathan Perlaza (2B-3B)
Fabian Pertuz (SS - 2017 IFA - Colombia - making pro debut) 
Gustavo Polanco (1B) 
* Carlos Sepulveda (2B)
* Austin Upshaw (1B-2B-3B)
Luis Vazquez (SS) 
Luis Verdugo (SS - 2017 IFA - Mexico - making pro debut) 
* Jared Young (2B)
Delvin Zinn (2B-3B) 

: 15
# Luis Ayala (formerly LH-hitter only, now is switch-hitter)
# Zach Davis 
Jose Alonso Gaitan (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut)
# Brandon Hughes 
Fernando Kelli (2017 DSL - attended Instructs last year & EXST earlier this year)
* Kwang-Min Kwon 
Eddy Julio Martinez
Kevonte Mitchell 
Carlos Pacheco 
* Chris Pieters 
* Jonathan Sierra   
Chris Singleton 
Nelson Velazquez 
* Ricardo Verenzuela (2017 DSL - making U. S. debut)
* D. J. Wilson 


Pedro Araujo, P 
Charcer Burks, OF 
David Bote, INF
Alec Mills, P
Ian Rice, C 
Jake Stinnett, P 
* Jason Vosler, 3B 
NOTE: RHP Oscar de las Cruz was removed from the Mesa Solar Sox roster on 9/18 due to injury and catcher Ian Rice was elevated from the "Taxi Squad" to the MSS Active Roster. It is psssible that another Cubs pitcher will be added to the MSS roster at a later date (TBD). 

Jacob Cruz


Phil I am happy for you. Have you been going thru withdrawals with the complex being empty? Keep us informed as to what is happening. Thanks.

That is a really good coaching staff. Nice to see the pro debuts for Verdugo and Portuz. Kept hoping for a trade announcement on Pierce Johnson. Surrender value, it is, apparently. At the cost of realizing Maples isn't ready yet.

no game today/tonight...horrible. turrible. anyway, i was looking at the recent drafts and the top pitching picks...what they've been doing and how good they are now... it's not been a pretty 5+ years in that department.

"Not . . . pretty" I've been wondering whether the Cubs would ever grow a pitcher again. Pitching-wise, The Cub Way is a lot like the Yankee way.

Blackburn fetched Montgomery. Those minor league games require pitchers.

blackburn (2012) is pretty much the best of the top pitching picks lot and zastrzrryyryzyrzyz (2013) is technically a pitcher, too. zack godley was a 10th round pick in 2013 and probably the best out of the recent bunch. it's a shame he's doing it with ARZ, but the cubs needed the priceless and masterful untapped moneyball gold standard pitch framing of miggy over paying welly next to nothing. that said, the cubs have some very promising pitchers in the system from outside of the draft process and not all of the drafted kids are washed up even if they're not doing too slick right now.

The Cubs used Godley as a starting pitcher zero times in two seasons. Didn't buy into his third pitch. Know thine own talent.

Looking at this roster, I see a nice group of middle infielders and center fielders.

Maybe they are scouting which ones could be converted to pitchers! Look at Kelsey Jansen - was a SS and moved to 3B.

Padres calling up Christian Villanueva for some late season action.

Speaking of prospects -- - Candy Man off to a nice start with his Sept. call-up for the Tigers. 1.061 OPS in 63 PA's. Hitting .377 with .476 OBP. 10BB, 8K. - Soler, not so much: hitting .151 in 106 PA for KC this year. Monster year at AAA, though: 24 HR in 74 games, OPS of .952.

PHIL: Thanks for this. How does a Chris Valaika, with only 4 partial years in the MLB, who slashed a career .238. .282 .351 .633, get a gig as a hitting coach for instructs for a World Series champion? Also, what is Dougie Dascenzo's style like teaching the kids?

George Brett's hitting guru, Charlie Lau, had a career OPS of .683. Grinders can make good coaches because they have had to work to understand how to get better. In my experience, brilliant people or gifted athletes can make lousy teachers/coaches because they have never really struggled and had to figure things out. I was going to be a math major in college, until one class is advanced calculus. The professor was doing a proof on the board, and I raised my hand and said, "Um, professor, I lost you there." He looked at me, looked at the board, shrugged and said: "It's obvious." I switched majors shortly thereafter. So did several of my classmates.

Ha. Well, that sums it up. There must be something there or TheoJed would not have approved I suppose. Although Jed did trade Cory Kluber for Ryan Ludwick.

Valaika's job as a hitting coach is to get a young hitter from the Eugene level to the South Bend level. Or the South Bend level to Myrtle Beach. Not to get a hit off of a Cliff Lee slider that is 5/8 of an inch off the plate with an Angel Hernandez strike zone. By the way, nice story of Calculus, billybucks.

Yeah -- I headed over to the more tangible major of Economics.

E-MAN: You don't have to be Albert Einstein to teach math (or make bagels). Many hitting coaches were not good hitters themselves, but they understand the principles involved, they know how to communicate, and they can spot things that might not be obvious to the player himself. Also, Chris Valaika is intelligent and a very good teacher. He was a graduate assistant baseball coach at UCSB when the Gauchos went to the College World Series a couple of yearsc ago..  

As far as Doug Dascenzo is concerned, he is a very good communicator and the players seem to respect him. He is especially good at outfield instruction.

The Cubs minor league baserunning guru is Mike Roberts, retired head baseball coach at the University of North Carolina and the father of ex-MLB infielder Brian Roberts. Watching and listening to Mike's baserunning instruction makes me want to go out on the field and run the bases (as long as paramedics are stanfding by). 

Bottom line is, the Cubs have an outstanding group of minor league coordinators, coaches, instructors, and managers. 

PHIL: Thank you. Makes sense to me and glad they have a solid staff bringing up the youngsters. Also: "...as long as paramedics are standing by." Ha! Yes!

Really curious to find out if Fernando Kelli has usable baseball tools beyond his speed. Walked a good bit in the DSL with some pop, but DSL numbers probably don't tell you much and he's turned 19 already. Still, 58 SB in 67 games is a fun number.

BRADSBEARD: I've seen Fernando Kelli quite a bit. He was at Instructs last year and at EXST this year. He's probably the fastest player in the systen, but his defense in CF needs a lot of work. He has plus-range but he doesn't track fly balls very well at this point. 

He didn't steal bases much when he was here (certainly not like he did in the DSL this past season), but his speed is obvious on the bases.

Kelli is listed as a switch-hitter in some places, but he only batted RH at instructs last year and at EXST this year. If he can switch-hit he could take better advantage of his plus-speed. As a RH hitter he is a gap hitter.capable of producing mucho doubles and triples.   

Fernando Kelli, Luis Diaz, Christopher Morel, Orian Nunez, Henderson Perez, and Fraklin Tineo were the six players cut from EXST prior to the start of the DSL season, so the Cubs obviously did not feel the sextet was ready for AZL in 2017. But five of them (Kelli, Diaz, Morel, Nunez, and Perez) are at Instructs right now and will almost certainly be at EXST again next season with each of them having at least an outside chance to jump AZL and make the Eugene Opening Day roster (as Aramis Ademan and Miguel Amaya did this year).    

Thanks! Sounds about like the profile I was envisioning. But you never know what results hard work and coaching might yield.

OF Luis Ayala roped a line-drive single hitting right-handed in one of yesterday's Instructs situational "sim" games. Formerly a LH-hitter only, Ayala is now switch-hitting. He has been putting in a lot of work one-on-one with Hitting Coordinator Andy Haines in early BP. 

Jonathan Sierra and Rafael Narea slugged home runs in the game on Field #6. Pitchers are not yet ready to face hitters, so coaches were doing the pitching. So in that sense the games were like BP, but otherwise they were played as regular games (outs, hits, baserunning, etc). 

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  • crunch 3 hours 16 min ago (view)

    Chicago Cubs Thumbs Up GIF by NBC Sports Chicago


  • Alexander Dimm 3 hours 41 min ago (view)

    I'm in.  What more do we need, really.  A beer.  A game or two.  The 162 game season can wait until next year (I hope).  Have fun with a micro-mini season.  Let the powers fight over the labor agreements.  They can finish by next spring, right?


  • crunch 3 hours 53 min ago (view)

    2020 quickly shaping up to be the best season ever.


  • Cubster 5 hours 13 min ago (view)

    And a few kegs of beer. Hamberders too.


  • crunch 7 hours 25 min ago (view)

    they should just play a quick weekend tourney where no one actually wins and everyone gets a small participation trophy.

    declare the fans the MVPs and dedicate the series to everyone who has died in the history of humanity.

    ...then a free live-streamed Nickleback concert hosted by 2Pac's hologram


  • Charlie 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Lol at worrying about a second wave disrupting revenue.


  • Cubster 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    IN BRIEF (Tribune, from their mini-sports section):    In a letter, MLB rejects players’ plan for 114 gamesNews services Major League Baseball rejected the players’ proposal for a 114-game schedule in the pandemic-delayed season with no additional salary cuts, telling the union that teams have no reason to think 82 games is possible and now will discuss even fewer.Players made their proposal Sunday, five days after management’s initial economic plan.


  • Cubster 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    Pete Ricketts causing some backspin on their serve...Chi Tribune, Thursday AM:


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 30 min ago (view)

    Here are the last two Cubs minor league releases from this week (for a final total of 30): 

    Conor Lillis-White, LHP (acquired frrom LAA for Tommy LaStella post-2018 - missed 2019 season with hip flexor injury)

    Alberto Mineo, C-1B (has been quarantined in Italy since he re-signed with Cubs in February) 

    Lillis-White was eligible for selection in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, and Mineo was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2020 


  • Charlie 2 days 1 hour ago (view)

    Great read from players I came of age watching. Really shows how badly MLB needs to empower their players to speak in real time and not just after retiring.


  • crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    "A conversation: Retired African American MLB players on race, baseball, America"


    d.glanville, j.rollins, r.howard, d.willis, t.hunter, l.hawkins

    unlocked/free article.


  • Jackstraw 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    I'm trying to come up with scenarios where saying "The problem I have with you people....." really helps the conversation move forward constructively.  None really jump to mind.


  • crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    i still want proof that tom ricketts and ted cruz aren't the same person


  • Cubster 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

    Tom's older brother is an ass, even with an embarrassing apology.

    Here is the twitter video from Pastor Jarrod Parker: 



  • Cubster 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    I agree.  Laura is the real deal. I think she was the major influence that showed Tom R. and Crane Kenney how to show a "human side" and deal realistically and in a non-threatening way, with the local Chicago politicians. Kenney was clearly clueless in his initial attempts regarding the neighborhood, the Rooftop owners, and the Wrigley Field rebuild. 


  • Hagsag 2 days 16 hours ago (view)

    I am a Laura Ricketts fan. To hell with the rest of them.