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.

[ ]

In reply to by tim815

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.

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?

[ ]

In reply to by The E-Man

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.

[ ]

In reply to by The E-Man

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.

[ ]

In reply to by The E-Man

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. 

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.

[ ]

In reply to by bradsbeard

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).    

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). 

Cubs MLB Roster

Cubs Organizational Depth Chart
40-Man Roster Info

39 players are on the MLB RESERVE LIST (one slot is open), plus two players are on 60-DAY IL   

28 players
are on the MLB ACTIVE LIST (26-man limit in effect on MLB Opening Day)

Four players signed to minor league contracts are Spring Training NON-ROSTER INVITEES (NRI) 

: 32 

Last updated 3-28-2023
* bats or throws left
# bats both

Adbert Alzolay
Javier Assad 
Brad Boxberger
Michael Fulmer
Kyle Hendricks
* Brandon Hughes
Julian Merryweather
Michael Rucker
* Drew Smyly
* Justin Steele 
Marcus Stroman
Jameson Taillon 
Keegan Thompson
Hayden Wesneski

* Ryan Borucki  
Tyler Duffey 
* Anthony Kay  
Mark Leiter Jr 

* Tucker Barnhart 
Yan Gomes
Luis Torrens

Nico Hoerner
* Eric Hosmer
Nick Madrigal
* Miles Mastrobuoni
* Edwin Rios
Dansby Swanson
Patrick Wisdom

* Cody Bellinger 
# Ian Happ
Trey Mancini 
Seiya Suzuki 

Keven Alcantara, OF 
Miguel Amaya, C 
Ben Brown, P 
Alexander Canario, OF 
Brennen Davis, OF 
Jeremiah Estrada, P 
Ryan Jensen, P 
Caleb Kilian, P
Christopher Morel, INF-OF
Adrian Sampson, P 
Nelson Velazquez, OF 

60-DAY IL: 2 
Codi Heuer, P 
Ethan Roberts, P

Minor League Rosters
Rule 5 Draft 
Minor League Free-Agents