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Cubs announce 2015 minor league managers and coaching staffs

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Marty Pevey returns for his third season as manager of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Cubs)

The Cubs announced their minor league managers and coaching staffs for the 2015 season on Wednesday. A majority of the managers are familiar faces, but many of the coaches are new to the organization or to their affiliate. Below are the staffs, broken down by club:

Triple-A Iowa
Manager: Marty Pevey
Pitching Coach: Mike Cather
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Brian Harper/Leo Perez
Trainer: Scott Barringer

Marty Pevey begins his third season as Triple-A Iowa’s manager after serving as Chicago’s catching coordinator for three seasons from 2010-12. Pevey was the manager at Single-A Peoria in 2009, his first season with the organization. He has a combined 31 years of professional experience (13 years as a player and 18 years as a manager, coach or coordinator), and was named the 2009 Midwest League co-Manager of the Year. Joining Pevey at Iowa will be newly hired pitching coach, Mike Cather, who spent 2014 as Triple-A El Paso’s pitching coach in the Padres’ system. Cather enters his 10th season as a coach after six seasons in the Red Sox system and three seasons in the San Diego organization. Originally drafted by the Rangers in 1993, he pitched in parts of three seasons with the Braves from 1997-99. Brian Harper returns for his third season as Iowa’s hitting coach after managing Double-A Tennessee in 2011 and Single-A Daytona in 2012. A former catcher, Harper played 16 seasons in the majors with seven teams. Rounding out the coaching staff is former Cubs farmhand Leo Perez, who begins his seventh season as a coach in the organization and his first with Iowa. Scott Barringer returns for his second season as Iowa’s athletic trainer and his third in the Cubs organization.

Double-A Tennessee
Manager: Buddy Bailey
Pitching Coach: Storm Davis
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Desi Wilson/Guillermo Martinez
Trainer: Shane Nelson

Buddy Bailey begins his fourth-straight season (and fifth overall) as Tennessee’s manager after guiding the Smokies to a 214-203 (.513) mark in the last three seasons. Bailey spent three years as Daytona’s skipper prior to joining the Smokies, compiling a 215-196 (.523) record, including a 2011 Florida State League Championship. This will mark Bailey’s 27th year as a manager and his 10th with the organization. Storm Davis begins his third season with the organization and his second as Tennessee’s pitching coach after serving in the same role with Daytona in 2013. The former right-handed pitcher went 113-96 with a 4.02 ERA during a 13-year big league career. Desi Wilson, entering his eighth season with the organization, returns as the hitting coach for a third year after handling the same duties at Daytona in 2012. The only new member of the Smokies’ staff, Guillermo Martinez, joins as an assistant coach after serving in a similar role last season with Single-A Boise. Shane Nelson rounds out the staff as the team’s athletic trainer for the second-straight year.

Single-A Myrtle Beach
Manager: Mark Johnson
Pitching Coach: David Rosario
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Mariano Duncan/Chris Gutierrez
Trainer: Peter Fagan

Mark Johnson, now entering his fifth season in the organization, takes over as manager of the Cubs’ new Single-A affiliate, Myrtle Beach. He spent the last two seasons as manager at Single-A Kane County, where he led the 2014 Cougars to a 91-49 record and a Midwest League championship after sweeping through the playoffs with a 7-0 mark. Johnson began his managerial career in 2011 with Boise after enjoying a 17-year professional playing career that included 332 major league games with four clubs. Handling pitching coach duties at Myrtle Beach will be David Rosario, who is entering his 11th year in the Cubs’ system and served with Johnson last season at Kane County. Mariano Duncan returns for his third season as the club’s High-A hitting coach after serving the previous two campaigns as Tennessee’s hitting coach (2011-12). The 12-year major league veteran (1985-87, 1989-97) joined the Cubs in 2011 after spending the previous five seasons (2006-10) as the Dodgers’ major league first base coach. Rounding out the coaching staff is Chris Gutierrez, who began his coaching career last season as an assistant coach with Single-A Kane County. Peter Fagan returns to Myrtle Beach as the athletic trainer.

Single-A South Bend
Manager: Jimmy Gonzalez
Pitching Coach: Brian Lawrence
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Jesus Feliciano/Osmin Melendez
Trainer: Jonathan Fierro

Jimmy Gonzalez begins his second season as a manager in the organization, taking over the Cubs’ new Single-A affiliate in South Bend. He made his managerial debut last season with Rookie-League Mesa after serving as hitting coach with the club in 2013. A former catcher, Gonzalez played 14 minor league seasons after being selected in the first round of the 1991 Draft by Houston. Brian Lawrence enters his first season as South Bend’s pitching coach after serving in the same role with Boise in 2014. Lawrence made his coaching debut in 2012 in the Independent Frontier League and spent 2013 as pitching coach of Single-A Lake Elsinore in the Padres system. The former right-hander went 50-63 with a 4.19 ERA during a six-year big league career with the Padres and Mets. Jesus Feliciano moves up to South Bend after serving as the hitting coach last season at Boise in his debut year as a coach. He enjoyed a 16-year playing career from 1998-2013 and saw action in 54 games with the Mets in 2010. Osmin Melendez will serve as an assistant coach after coaching with Mesa last season and managing the Cubs Venezuela rookie league team in 2013. Jonathan Fierro begins his third season as an athletic trainer in the organization after serving in Kane County in 2014 and Boise in 2013.

Short-Season Eugene
Manager: Gary Van Tol
Pitching Coach: Anderson Tavares
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Ricardo Medina/Terrmel Sledge
Trainer: Mike McNulty

Gary Van Tol returns for his third season as the club’s Short Season-A manager, but he’ll take over a new affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds. Van Tol guided Boise to consecutive 41-35 records in his first two seasons, securing a playoff berth both years. Prior to becoming a manager, Van Tol served as bench coach in Boise for five years and has extensive experience as a coach in the college ranks, including as an assistant at his alma mater, Gonzaga. Joining the staff at Eugene will be pitching coach Anderson Tavares, who spent the last two seasons with Rookie-League Mesa. Tavares played in the Cubs system from 2000-05 and worked as a pitching coach with the Cubs Dominican Summer League team from 2007-12. Ricardo Medina enters his first season as hitting coach with Single-A Eugene after two years with Mesa. He has been involved in the Cubs organization since 1999 as a coach, manager or scout. A new addition to the organization, former major league outfielder Terrmel Sledge rounds out the coaching staff as an assistant coach. Mike McNulty joins Eugene as the team’s athletic trainer after serving in the same role last season with Mesa.

Rookie League Mesa
Manager: Carmelo Martinez
Pitching Coach: Ron Villone
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Oscar Bernard/Ty Wright
Trainer: Toby Williams

Carmelo Martinez enters his 18th season in the organization and begins his second stint as manager with Mesa after serving in the role from 1999-2003, and again in 2006. He has a career record of 159-185 (.462) as Mesa’s manager. Martinez previously served as the Cubs’ Latin America field coordinator for six seasons and played in the majors from 1983-91 with the Cubs, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Royals and Reds. Ron Villone begins his fourth season as a coach in the Cubs organization and his first with Mesa. A former left-handed pitcher, he played in all or part of 15 major league seasons from 1995-2009 with 12 teams. Oscar Bernard begins his first season as the hitting coach for Mesa after spending the previous two seasons as the Dominican Cubs hitting coach. Ty Wright joins the staff as an assistant coach after an eight-year playing career, seven of which came in the Cubs system. Toby Williams begins his second season in the organization and his first as Mesa’s athletic trainer.

Dominican Republic
Manager: Juan Cabreja
Pitching Coach: Armando Gabino
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Claudio Almonte
Trainer: Jose Alvarez

Juan Cabreja returns for a second-consecutive year as manager of the Dominican Cubs after previously managing the club from 2007-08 and managing the Cubs’ second Dominican club in 2012. He led the team to a 42-28 mark last season and has a 244-204 (.545) overall managerial record. Armando Gabino enters his first season as a pitching coach in the organization after a playing career that saw him pitch in seven games over two seasons with the Twins and Orioles. Claudio Almonte also joins the organization as the Dominican Cubs hitting coach after managing the Mariners Dominican Summer League team in 2014. Jose Alvarez begins his second season as the club’s athletic trainer.

Venezuela
Manager: Pedro Gonzalez
Pitching Coach: Eduardo Villacis
Hitting Coach/Asst.: Franklin Blanco
Trainer: Arnoldo Goite

Pedro Gonzalez begins his second year as the Venezuelan Cubs manager after going 28-40 in his first season. He will be joined by pitching coach Eduardo Villacis and hitting coach Franklin Blanco. Villacis enters his first season with the organization, while Blanco begins his ninth year with the Cubs and his third-straight season in Venezuela. Arnoldo Goite returns as the club’s athletic trainer.

Cubs acquire RHP Brazis from Seattle for OF Ruggiano

The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitching prospect Matt Brazis from the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Justin Ruggiano.

Brazis, 25, is 8-6 with 14 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 100 minor league relief appearances covering three seasons in the Mariners minor league system. He split the 2014 campaign between Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson, going 4-1 with six saves and a 2.36 ERA in 40 appearances. Brazis struck out 84 batters and walked only 18 in 72.1 innings pitched.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Brazis was originally selected by the Mariners in the 28th round of the 2012 Draft out of Boston College.

Ruggiano, 32, batted .281 with six home runs and 28 RBI in 81 games for the Cubs last year. He was acquired from the Miami Marlins for outfielder Brian Bogusevic on Dec. 12, 2013. The move also clears a spot on the Cubs 40-man roster.

Cubs officially sign LHP Jon Lester to a six-year contract

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(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

The biggest move of baseball’s offseason became official Monday when the Cubs and pitcher Jon Lester agreed to terms on a six-year contract that includes a vesting option for the 2021 season.

Lester, 30, is a three-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion during his nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox (2006-14) and Oakland Athletics (2014). He has a pair of top five Cy Young Award finishes (2010 and 2014, both fourth), four top 10 finishes for the ERA title and six top 10 finishes in wins. The left-hander has made more than 30 starts in each of the last seven seasons, eclipsed 200 innings in six of the past seven and has three seasons with more than 200 strikeouts. His .634 career winning percentage (116-67) ranks fifth among all active pitchers.

The Cubs beat out teams like Boston, the Dodgers and San Francisco, who were all reported to have offered the southpaw significant deals. In the end though, the steps the Cubs had taken to produce sustained success swayed the starter.

“I believe in the plan and the thing that’s in place right now for the future of the Cubs,” Lester said. “Obviously leaving a place that you’ve already won and the comfort of that it’s difficult, but also you can relish in the process of enjoying the chance of winning a World Series for a franchise that never has just adds that little extra for me.”

Overall, Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA (635 ER/1,596.0 IP) in 253 major league appearances, all but one as a starting pitcher. Among big league left-handed pitchers active at the end of the 2014 campaign, he ranks best with an average of only 0.82 home runs per nine innings, second with 8.22 strikeouts per nine innings, third in ERA, fourth in wins and WHIP (1.28), and fifth with 1,457 strikeouts and 156 quality starts. He threw the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history on May 19, 2008, a 7-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

A World Champion with the Red Sox in 2007 and 2013, Lester is 6-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 postseason appearances, 12 as a starter. He has won all three of his World Series starts, posting a 0.43 ERA, and was the winning pitcher in the clinching Game 4 in 2007 in Colorado.

Lester turned in one of the best seasons of his career in 2014 when he went 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA in 32 starts with the Red Sox and Athletics. He earned an All-Star nod and recorded his lowest single-season ERA, which ranked fourth in the American League. He struck out 220 batters and walked only 48, good for a 4.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranked seventh in the league. Lester was 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts for the Red Sox before being traded to Oakland on July 31, where he went 6-4 with an even better 2.35 ERA in 11 starts.

Eptsein and current Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer were members of Boston’s front office for the majority of Lester’s tenure, with Epstein serving as general manager from 2003-11. Along with Lester’s success on the field, Epstein said he respects the pitcher’s drive and character, which were equally important attributes that led to the signing.

“He’s focused, competitive, hard working, intense and now fully mature. I think he’s got good self-awareness and understands the group concept,” said Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. “And he’s at his best in the most important moments, I think because he’s so driven and focused and not swayed on outside variables like pressure.”

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Lester was originally selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 Draft (57th overall) out of high school and was in the big leagues just four years later at the age of 22. He made his debut on June 10, 2006, and made 15 starts before being diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma in late-August. Lester was declared cancer-free in December of that year and returned to the big leagues on July 23, 2007, going a perfect 4-0 with a 4.57 ERA in 12 outings (11 starts) down the stretch to help the Red Sox to the playoffs and a World Series championship.

Lester began his run of seven straight seasons with more than 30 starts in 2008 and has posted 15 or more victories in six of those seasons, including a career-high 19 wins in 2010, his first of two-straight All-Star seasons. He struck out 225 batters in consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010, his single-season career bests.  In 2013, Lester went 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts to lead the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series championship.

The Cubs officially sign RHP Jason Hammel

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Photo by Stephen Green

The Cubs and right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel officially agreed to terms on a two-year contract that includes a club option for the 2017 season on Friday.

The 32-year-old Hammel joins the Cubs organization for the second time this year, as he signed a one-year deal with the club for the 2014 campaign in February. The right-hander went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA (36 ER/108.2 IP) in 17 starts with the Cubs, striking out 104 and walking only 23 in 108.2 innings pitched, before being traded to Oakland with fellow right-hander Jeff Samardzija on July 5 for infielder Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney and right-hander Dan Straily. With the Cubs, Hammel limited opponents to a .222 batting average and turned in a 1.02 WHIP.

On the year, Hammel combined to go 10-11 with a 3.47 ERA (68 ER/176.1 IP) in 30 outings, all but one as a starter, between the Cubs and the A’s. After dropping his first four starts with Oakland in July, Hammel rebounded to post a 2.86 ERA in four August starts and a 2.20 ERA in five September outings (four starts) to help Oakland to a postseason berth. With this move, he also reunites with manager Joe Maddon, whom he pitched for in Tampa Bay from 2006-08.

Hammel is 59-70 with four saves and a 4.60 ERA in 245 major league appearances (187 starts) with Tampa Bay (2006-08), Colorado (2009-11), Baltimore (2012-13), the Cubs (2013) and Oakland (2014). He has three 10-win seasons to his credit (2009, 2010 and 2013) and has made 20 or more starts in each of the last six seasons, including two years with 30 or more starts (2009, 2010).

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Hammel was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the 10th round of the 2002 Draft and made his big league debut with the club in 2006 at the age of 23. He is a native of Greenville, South Carolina, and graduated from South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Washington. He pitched at Treasure Valley Community College in Oregon.

Cubs acquire Ovando, lose three prospects in Rule 5 Draft

The 2014 Winter Meetings were whirlwind few days for the baseball community, as numerous teams made blockbuster moves and signed highly sought after free agents. Another annual aspect of the meetings took place Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft, and the Cubs were active participants.

In the Triple-A phase of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs selected outfielder Ariel Ovando. In four minor league seasons in the Astros’ farm system, the 21-year-old hit .233/.299/.335 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 14 home runs and 43 doubles. It’s reported by MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat that the club will try to convert the lefty thrower into a pitcher.

Unlike the first portion of the draft, the club is not required to keep Ovando on the major league club this season.

However, the draft also resulted in a loss of three Cubs farmhands, with the Marlins selecting lefty reliever Andrew McKirahan in the first round, while slugger Rock Shoulders and catcher Luis Flores were taken by the Rangers and Astros, respectively, in the minor league portion.

The 24-year-old McKirahan has had a solid four-year minor league career, posting a 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 128 strikeouts over 120.2 innings. He split 2014 between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, posting a 2.08 ERA over 65.0 innings and fanning 57 batters. He was originally drafted by the Cubs in the 21st round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Texas. The Marlins must keep McKirahan on the 25-man roster this season or send him back to the Cubs’ organization.

Shoulders hit 30 home runs over the last two seasons in Single-A ball and has the ability to draw walks, earning 121 free passes in that span. He has a career slash line of .243/.343/.427, but most of his numbers took a significant dip when he made the jump from Kane County to Daytona in 2014. The Cubs selected Shoulders in the 25th round of the 2011 draft.

Flores will join the Astros’ organization after seven seasons in the Cubs’ system. The 28-year-old split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014, amassing a .253/.388/.371 line with five homers in 67 games. He’s a career .213 hitter, a number weighed down by a poor offensive start to his career. Flores was originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft.

The Cubs also selected shortstop Taylor Featherston from Colorado in the first-round selection, but traded the 25-year-old to the Angels for cash considerations.

Cubs acquire catcher Montero from Arizona

MiguelMontero

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty)

The Cubs acquired catcher Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league right-handed pitchers Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley in a trade that was finalized Tuesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings.

The 31-year-old Montero went to his second career All-Star Game last season and hit .243/.329/.370 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 13 home runs and 72 driven in on the year. The backstop has spent his entire career in Arizona, where he originally signed as an amateur free agent in 2001.

The left-handed hitting catcher made his major league debut in 2006 and was was Arizona’s primary catcher by the 2009 campaign. He enjoyed his finest year in 2011, when he batted .282 (139-for-493) with 36 doubles, 18 home runs, 86 RBI and an .820 OPS in 140 games. He also earned his first All-Star appearance that season and helped the Diamondbacks to the NL West title.

Montero carried that effort into the following year, batting .286/.391/.829 with 15 homers, 25 doubles and 88 RBI in 486 at-bats in 2012. During the 2012 campaign, he signed a five-year extension through 2017.

Overall, he is a career .264 hitter (795-for-3,017) with 172 doubles, 97 home runs, 448 RBI and a .342 on-base percentage in 906 major league contests, averaging 31 doubles, 17 home runs and 80 RBI per 162 games.

The 20-year-old Mejia went 2-4 with a 2.48 ERA in 12 games (two starts, 40.0 innings pitched) in rookie ball last season, his first year pitching in the United States. He signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Godley, 24, combined to go 4-3 with 15 saves and a 3.09 ERA (55.1 IP) in 40 relief appearances between Single-A Kane County and Daytona last season. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 10th round of the 2013 Draft out of the University of Tennessee.

Ryan Dempster announces retirement, will join Cubs front office

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

After 16 seasons in the majors, longtime Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster has announced he will retire from baseball and take a position in the Cubs’ front office.

The right-hander was able to retire as a member of the Cubs organization and will become a special assistant to baseball president Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer.

The 37-year-old concludes his career as a two-time All-Star and a 2013 World Series Champion with the Red Sox, in what would become his final active season in the majors. He was an All-Star with the Marlins in 2000 and the Cubs in 2008, a year that marked his return to the rotation in which he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA to help the team to a second straight NL Central division title.

Overall, the well-liked Dempster spent nine seasons with the Cubs from 2004-12 and posted 67 wins and 87 saves, the only pitcher in club history with more than 50 wins and 50 saves.

For his career, the right-hander went 132-133 with 87 saves and a 4.35 ERA in 579 appearances (351 starts). Along with his time on the North Side and his season in Boston, Dempster played for Florida (1998-2002), Cincinnati (2002-03) and Texas (2012).

His new role with the organization will include spending time with the club during Spring Training, visiting the club’s minor league affiliates during the season, evaluating amateur players leading up to the draft and going on professional scouting assignments.

Cubs name Dave Martinez bench coach

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Dave Martinez served as Joe Maddon’s bench coach in Tampa Bay. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Cubs named Dave Martinez the club’s major league bench coach and shifted Brandon Hyde to first base coach Thursday.

They also appointed Henry Blanco the club’s major league quality assurance coach. Doug Dascenzo, who had been named first base coach on Oct. 9, will remain in the organization as outfield and baserunning coordinator with responsibilities in the major and minor leagues.

The announcement completes manager Joe Maddon’s coaching staff for the 2015 campaign: Martinez (bench coach), Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Hyde (first base coach), Gary Jones (third base coach), John Mallee (hitting coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach), Mike Borzello (catching and strategy coach), Eric Hinske (assistant hitting coach), Blanco (quality assurance coach) and Franklin Font (staff assistant).

The 50-year-old Martinez served as Maddon’s bench coach in Tampa Bay and returns to the organization that originally drafted him in the third round of the 1983 Draft. Martinez was first named as a Spring Training coach for Maddon in 2006 and 2007 before being named to the big league staff on Oct. 11, 2007.

A former outfielder, Martinez played 16 seasons in the big leagues with nine teams: the Cubs (1986-88, 2000), Montreal (1988-91), Cincinnati (1992), San Francisco (1993-94), the White Sox (1995-97), Tampa Bay (1998-2000), Texas (2000), Toronto (2000) and Atlanta (2001). Over his career, he batted .276 with 91 homers and 580 RBI in 1,919 major league games.

Blanco, 43, completed a 25-year professional catching career last year when he retired with the Diamondbacks at the end of Spring Training and joined the club’s big league coaching staff as an assistant. He spent four seasons with the Cubs, helping the club to consecutive National League Central titles in 2007 and 2008.

Overall, Blanco played in 971 major league games covering 16 seasons and 11 teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1997), Colorado (1999), Milwaukee (2000-01), Atlanta (2002-03), Minnesota (2004), the Cubs (2005-08), San Diego (2009), the New York Mets (2010), Arizona (2011-12), Toronto (2013) and Seattle (2013), finishing his career with a .223 batting average, 145 doubles, 72 home runs and 298 RBI.

Cubs add top pitching prospect Edwards to 40-man roster

Edwards,-CJ-8.25-2-(Roger-C-Hoover)(Photo by Roger C. Hoover)

The Cubs Thursday selected the contract of right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards from Double-A Tennessee.  Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players.

Edwards, 23, is 14-7 with a 1.86 ERA (49 ER/237.0 IP) in 50 minor league outings (49 starts) covering the last three seasons. The right-hander has struck out 294 batters in 237.0 innings pitched, an average of 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and has allowed only two home runs, an average of roughly one per 119.0 innings pitched.  Edwards has also turned in a 0.975 WHIP.

The Newbury, South Carolina, native was originally selected by Texas in the 48th Round of the 2011 Draft. He was acquired by the Cubs as part of the trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas in 2013 and went 2-0 with a 1.36 ERA (5 ER/33.0 IP) in eight starts with Daytona to help the club to the Florida State League Championship. Edwards was slowed by injury last season but returned to go 1-2 with a 2.44 ERA (13 ER/48.0 IP) in 10 starts with Tennessee and pitched in the Arizona Fall League, earning All-Star honors with a 1-0 record and a 1.80 ERA (3 ER/15.0 IP) in six starts.

Cubs acquire IF Tommy La Stella from Braves

LaStella

(Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty)

The Cubs Sunday acquired infielder Tommy La Stella from the Atlanta Braves, as well as Atlanta’s number four international signing bonus slot, for right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and three international signing bonus slots (slot numbers two, three and four).

La Stella, 25, made his major league debut with the Braves last season and led National League rookies with 36 walks and a .328 on-base percentage (min. 300 plate appearances). In 93 games, he hit .251 (80-for-319) with 16 doubles, one home run and 31 RBI, and compiled a .984 fielding percentage (6 E/368 TC) in 88 games at second base. He began the year at Triple-A, his first time at that level, and hit .293 (49-for-167) with a .384 on-base percentage in 47 games for Gwinnett prior to his promotion to the majors.

The 5-foot, 11-inch, 185-pound La Stella was named the Braves ninth-best prospect by Baseball America heading into last season. He owns a .322 (326-for-1,013) batting average and a .407 on-base percentage in 288 career minor league games since he was selected by the Braves in the eighth round of the 2011 Draft. La Stella has 136 walks compared to 102 strikeouts in 1,197 minor league plate appearances.

In 2013, La Stella was named Double-A Mississippi’s Most Valuable Player after he led the team with a .343 batting average (97-for-283) and a .422 on-base percentage in 81 games. He recorded a franchise-record 23-game hitting streak, July 5-August 5, in which he batted .386 (34-for-88). Additionally, La Stella was named to the 2013 Arizona Fall League’s Top Prospects team after batting .290 (18-for-62) in 18 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

La Stella, a left-handed batter and right-handed fielder, was named a Carolina League midseason All-Star in 2012 with Single-A Lynchburg, a season in which he hit .397 in 23 games following the All-Star break. In 2011, his first pro season, he led Single-A Rome with a .328 batting average (76-for-232) in 63 games.

Vizcaino, 24, pitched in five September games for the Cubs last season and posted a 5.40 ERA (3 ER/5.0 IP) in his first major league action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March of 2012. He was acquired from the Braves with right-handed pitcher Jaye Chapman for left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson on July 30, 2012.

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