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Cubs finalize minor league staffs

The Cubs announced their minor league coaching staffs for the 2014 season on Wednesday. Managers from Short-Season A Boise through Triple-A Iowa all remained the same, along with the hitting coaches at all levels. However, many of the managers will have new pitching coaches to work with this year. The staff is as follows. Bold designates new personnel at the position:

Triple-A Iowa
Manager: Marty Pevey
Pitching Coach: Bruce Walton
Hitting Coach: Brian Harper

Pevey begins his second season at Triple-A Iowa and his sixth in the Cubs organization. He was previously the catching coordinator for three seasons (2010-12). He was also the manager at Single-A Peoria in 2009. He has 30 years of professional experience, including 13 as a player, and was named the 2009 Midwest League co-Manager of the Year. Walton spent 2010-12 as the Blue Jays’ pitching coach and was previously their bullpen coach dating back to 2002. Harper returns for his second season after managing at Double-A Tennessee in 2011 and Single-A Daytona in 2012.

Double-A Tennessee
Manager: Buddy Bailey
Pitching Coach: Storm Davis
Hitting Coach/Assistant: Desi Wilson/Leo Perez

Bailey is back for his fourth season as Tennessee’s manager (third-straight). This marks his 26th season as a manager and his ninth in the Cubs organization. He previously spent three years as the manager of High-A Daytona. Davis spent 2013 with High-A Daytona as the pitching coach. It’s his second season in the organization, following a 13-year major league career. Wilson returns for his second year with Tennessee and sixth with the organization. He held the same position with Daytona in 2012.

High-A Daytona
Manager: Dave Keller
Pitching Coach: Ron Villone
Hitting Coach: Mariano Duncan

Keller is back for his second year with Daytona, after leading the D-Cubs to the Florida State League title last season. This will mark his 11th season with the organization. He spent 2012 as the hitting coach in Iowa and 2011 as an assistant on the major league staff. In his third season with the club, Villone jumps up from Single-A Kane County. He also had a 15-year major league career. Duncan returns for his second season after two campaigns with Double-A Tennessee (2011-12) as the hitting coach.

Single-A Kane County
Manager: Mark Johnson
Pitching Coach: David Rosario
Hitting Coach: Tom Beyers

Johnson returns for his second season with Kane County after serving as Short-Season Boise’s manager from 2011-12. He played professionally for 17 years, including time with the White Sox, Athletics, Brewers and Cardinals. Rosario has been the pitching coach at Boise for the three seasons, and this is his 10th overall campaign with the organization. Beyers has been with the Cubs for 14 seasons and returns for his second season with the Cougars.

Short-Season Boise
Manager: Gary Van Tol
Pitching Coach: Brian Lawrence
Hitting Coach: Bill Buckner

Van Tol helped Boise secure a playoff spot in his first season in charge of the club and brings 21 years of coaching experience. He coached at Gonzaga (1991-93, 2006-08) and the University of Portland (2003-05). He was also the manager of Centralia Community College in Washington (1994) and Treasure Valley Community College (1997-2001). Lawrence spent last year in the Padres’ organization as a Single-A pitching coach. Prior to that, he had a six-year major league career with the Padres. Buckner returns for his third season with the club. He enjoyed a 22-year career as a player.

Rookie League Mesa
Manager: Jimmy Gonzalez
Pitching Coach: Anderson Tavares
Hitting Coach: Ricardo Medina

After serving as hitting coach last season, Gonzalez now steps in as manager. The former catcher played 14 minor league seasons after becoming a first-round pick in 1991. Tavarez is back for his second season in Mesa after spending six seasons as the pitching coach in the Dominican. Medina has been a coach, manager or scout with the Cubs since 1999.

Rookie League Dominican
Manager: Juan Cabreja
Pitching Coach: Leo Hernandez
Hitting Coach/Assistant: Oscar Bernard/Yudith Ozorio

Cabreja was the Latin America assistant field coordinator last year and managed the Dominican club in 2012. Hernandez will act as pitching coach in his 19th season with the Cubs, while Bernard will be the Dominican hitting coach for the second straight year.

Rookie League Venezuelan
Manager: Pedro Gonzalez
Pitching Coach: Angel Guzman
Hitting Coach: Franklin Blanco

Gonzalez begins his first season with the Venezuelan club, while Guzman, who spent four years with the Cubs from 2006-09, will serve as pitching coach. Blanco begins his eighth season with the organization.

Cubs sign lefty reliever Wesley Wright


(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty)

The Cubs and left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright have agreed to terms on a 2014 contract.

Wright, who turns 29 next month, has combined to post a 3.28 ERA and .694 OPS (on-base plus slugging) against in 168 relief outings over the last three seasons. He split 2013 between Houston and Tampa Bay and combined to go 0-4 with nine holds and a 3.69 ERA in 70 relief appearances—his second-straight year with at least 70 outings. Though he went 0-4 with a 3.92 ERA in 54 outings with Houston, he turned in a 2.92 ERA and 0.97 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) after being acquired by Tampa Bay on August 12.

The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Wright split the 2011 campaign between Houston and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He then went 2-2 with 19 holds and a 3.27 ERA in 77 appearances with the Astros in 2012, leading the club in appearances and holds, while ranking seventh among National League left-handers in holds.

In all or part of six major league seasons with Houston (2008-13) and Tampa Bay (2013), Wright has posted a 10-15 record with 50 holds, two saves and a 4.37 ERA in 302 appearances, all but four in relief.  He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning pitched in his career and limited foes to a .250 batting average against, including a .231 mark by left-handed hitters. In the last three seasons, Wright has walked only 41 batters in 118.0 innings, an average of 3.1 walks per nine innings.

Wright was originally selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2003 draft out of Goshen High in Alabama and moved to Houston in the 2007 Rule 5 Draft. Wright was named the 2008 Astros Rookie of the Year by the Houston chapter of the BBWAA.

Cubs claim RHP Liam Hendriks

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks off waivers from the Twins Friday.

In the last three seasons, Hendriks, 24, has a major league record of 2-13 with a 6.06 ERA in 30 appearances with Minnesota.

In 2013, the Perth, Australia, native split time between the Twins and their Triple-A Rochester affiliate, going 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 10 big league games.

In six minor league seasons, Hendriks has a 42-28 record with a 2.99 ERA and 487 strikeouts in 100 games. He was selected to the World Team for the 2010 and 2011 Futures All-Star games. He also pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Cubs acquire OF Ruggiano from Marlins


(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Cubs acquired outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Marlins Thursday in exchange for outfielder Brian Bogusevic.

The 31-year-old Ruggiano has spent all or parts of five seasons in the majors with Tampa Bay (2007-08, 2011) and Miami (2012-13). He is a career .251/.315/.432 (AVG/OBP/SLG) hitter with 37 homers and 49 doubles in 999 plate appearances.

Ruggiano hit .313 in 91 games with the Marlins in 2012, and tallied a career-best 18 homers and 50 RBI in 2013. The last two seasons, he has hit lefties to a tune of .281/.589/.954 in 224 at-bats.

The Austin, Texas native was originally selected in the 25th round of the 2004 draft.

Bogusevic, 29, hit .273 with six homers and 16 RBI in 47 games for the Cubs last year. He signed a minor league contract with the Cubs prior to the 2013 season.

Cubs name Eric Hinske first base coach


(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Cubs named former major leaguer Eric Hinske the club’s new first base coach Tuesday, rounding out new manager Rick Renteria’s 2014 coaching staff.

Hinske, 36, concluded his 12-year big league career in 2013 with Arizona. Originally selected by the Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 draft, Hinske was the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year with the Blue Jays and made three straight World Series appearances with Boston in 2007, Tampa Bay in 2008 and the Yankees in 2009. Throughout his playing career, he had a sterling reputation as a clubhouse leader.

He was a career .249 hitter with 137 homers and 240 doubles. The former corner infielder/outfielder played 1,387 games with Toronto (2002-06), Boston (2006-07), Tampa Bay (2008), Pittsburgh (2009), the Yankees (2009), Atlanta (2010-12) and Arizona (2013).

Cubs acquire catcher George Kottaras


(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Cubs picked up catcher George Kottaras from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations Tuesday.

Kottaras, 30, served as Kansas City’s backup catcher, starting 29 games in 2013. He hit .180 in 100 at-bats with four doubles, five homers and 12 RBI. He also drew 24 walks in 126 plate appearances—the most in the majors among players with 150 plate appearances or fewer—and finished with a .349 on-base percentage.

The left-handed hitter was designated for assignment on Nov. 22. In his five-year major league career, he has a .214 average and has drawn 115 walks in 820 plate appearances (.324 on-base percentage). He previously played for Boston (2008-09), Milwaukee (2010-12), Oakland (2012) and Kansas City (2013).

The Ontario, Canada native was originally selected in the 20th round of the 2002 draft and represented Greece in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The Cubs name most of their 2014 coaching staff


Pitching coach Chris Bosio will be back for his third season with the club. (Photo by Stephen Green)

With the Rick Renteria era now two weeks old, the Cubs officially named the majority of their major league coaching staff Friday.

Pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode and staff assistant Franklin Font all return to the organization. Mike Borzello will also be back, but with an expanded role as the club’s catching and strategy coach.

Joining the field staff in 2014 will be Brandon Hyde (bench coach), Gary Jones (third base/infield coach), Bill Mueller (hitting coach), Mike Brumley (assistant hitting coach) and Jose Castro (quality assurance coach). Jaron Madison will replace Hyde as the director of player development.

Bosio, 50, returns to the club for his third season. This is his third stint as a pitching coach (previously with the Devil Rays and Brewers). He spent 11 years playing in the majors, most notably with the Mariners.

Strode, 55, returns for his eighth season as the bullpen coach and his 26th with the organization. Before his current role, he spent 11 seasons as a minor league pitching coordinator.

Font, 36, returns for his third season at the major league level and 20th overall with the organization. Prior to joining the big league staff, Font spent three years as the minor league infield coordinator. He also played within the organization before becoming a staff assistant at Single-A Daytona in 2001.

Borzello, 43, is now in his third season with the Cubs. He was previously with the Dodgers from 2008-11 as a bullpen catcher and also served that role with the Yankees from 1996-2007.

Hyde, 40, enters his third season with the Cubs and will begin his second stint as a major league bench coach, previously working under Jack McKeon with the Marlins for 1.5 years. Hyde joined the Cubs in December 2011 as the minor league field coordinator and was named director of player development in August 2012.

Jones, 53, spent the previous 11 years in the Padres organization, including the last seven as the minor league infield coordinator. He was a first base coach with the Athletics in 1998. Jones managed for 15 seasons in the minors, acquiring four minor league manager of the year awards.

Mueller, 42, has spent the last six seasons as a special assistant in the Dodgers front office. The 2003 AL batting champ also served as an interim hitting coach for the Dodgers in 2007. He spent 11 years in the majors playing with the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers, finishing with a .293 career average.

Brumley, 51, spent the last four seasons as an assistant hitting coach with the Mariners. From 1997-2009, he served as a minor league manager, field coordinator and instructor with Seattle. He spent seven years playing in the majors from 1987-94.

Castro, 55, spent 25 years as a minor league hitting coordinator or hitting coach for the Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Padres and Expos. He was also an interim hitting coach in 2008 for the Mariners.

The Cubs have not announced a first base coach.

Cubs name Rick Renteria manager


(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Cubs and Rick Renteria came to terms on a three-year deal with club options for 2017 and 2018 Thursday, making the 51-year-old California native the 53rd manager in the franchise’s history.

Renteria comes to the organization with 30 years of pro baseball experience, most recently serving as the Padres’ bench coach from 2011-13 and first base coach from 2008-10. He also spent eight seasons as a minor league manager with San Diego as well as the Marlins and played professionally for 13 seasons. His most recent managing experience comes from his time in charge of Team Mexico during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where his team went 1-2.

After retiring from playing, Renteria managed the Marlins’ Single-A affiliate Brevard County in 1998. The following season he was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year after leading Florida’s Kane County club to a league-best 78-59 record. He spent two more seasons with the Marlins organization before joining the Padres in 2003 as a coach with Single-A Lake Elsinore, where he later managed from 2004-06. He was promoted to manage the Triple-A Portland team in 2007 before earning a job on the major league staff as a first base coach in 2008.

Though Renteria does not have big league managerial experience, he does have a strong background in player development.

Originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the 1980 draft, Renteria was a career .237 hitter with 20 doubles, four home runs and 41 RBI in 184 major league contests. He primarily played second base and third base in the majors but also saw some time at shortstop and left field.

Former manager Dale Sveum was fired on Sept. 30.

Cubs extend OF Ryan Sweeney


(Photo by Dave Durochik)

On Thursday, the Cubs officially announced they have come to terms with outfielder Ryan Sweeney on a two-year deal, originally reported to be worth $3.5 million, with a team option for 2016 worth $2.5 million.

The 28-year-old signed with the Cubs in April of this year after being released by the Red Sox at the conclusion of Spring Training. Sweeney spent the first month of the season playing for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, where he hit .337/.396/.627 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with six homers in 83 at-bats before a May 6 call-up.

In 70 games with the Cubs, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native hit .266/.324/.448 with six homers, 13 doubles and 19 RBI. Before breaking a rib during a June 29 game in Seattle, he had a .295/.342/.527 line in 121 plate appearances.

Sweeney played all three outfield positions, but spent 45 games in center (vs. 10 in left and four in right) and will likely compete for a starting outfield spot heading into Spring Training.

Arizona Fall League opens Tuesday


Albert Almora will represent the Cubs as a member of the Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. (Photo by Jason Wise)

The Arizona Fall League is upon us. Though many will be tuned into the MLB playoffs for the next few weeks, the AFL is the crystal ball of baseball, giving fans a glimpse of the game’s future stars.

Twenty-five of MLB’s top 100 prospects (according to will be participating in Arizona action, headlined by individuals like the Twins’ Byron Buxton and Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon. Even with those two budding stars, no organization has received more hype for the depth it’s bringing to the league than the Cubs. Three of the AFL’s top 10 prospects are from Chicago’s organization: Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant.

Each member of that trio has received his fair share of hype, but a few other Cubs prospects who had solid 2013 campaigns are hoping to give the Mesa Solar Sox a boost as well.

Albert Almora, OF — The 2012 first-round pick and No. 21 prospect in baseball impressed when healthy this season. He hit .329/.376/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 61 games for Class-A Kane County. But he also missed the first month of the season, recovering from a broken hamate bone, and then was out of action from August-on, dealing with groin issues.

Dallas Beeler, RHP — Beeler got off to a fast start in 2013 with Double-A Tennessee, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 54.2 innings. But in late May, the right-hander tore a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, shelving him for the season. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-5 starter is believed to be healthy and will pitch in Arizona to make up for a lost season.

Kris Bryant, 3B — Bryant was as advertised at the plate this year for the Cubs affiliates. The 2013 first-round pick (and No. 35 prospect in baseball) hit a combined .336/.390/.688 with nine homers and 14 doubles over 36 games with the instructional squad, Short-Season Boise and Daytona. Many eyes will be trained on the 21-year-old this fall.

Lendy Castillo, RHP — Not many players who have a full major league season under their belt play in the AFL. A 2011 Rule 5 pick, the Cubs were forced to put the reliever on their major league roster during the 2012 season or forfeit him back to Philadelphia, his original organization. Castillo spent the majority of 2013 with Kane County before a late-July promotion to Daytona. His 39 walks in 84.1 innings definitely contributed to his lofty 5.87 ERA, but he also fanned 8.1 batters per nine innings and 9.4 per nine in his 20-inning stint with the D-Cubs.

Wes Darvill, IF — The 22-year-old Canadian played all over the diamond for both Kane County and Daytona this season, seeing time at second base, third base, shortstop and left field. Darvill spent the first month of the season with the Cougars before a promotion to the D-Cubs. He hit a combined .267/.339/.380 in 94 games and finished second on the Daytona squad with five triples (seven on the season).

Matt Loosen, RHP — Loosen dominated hitters at High-A Daytona, going 5-2 with 56 strikeouts and a 1.83 ERA in 54.0 innings (including a no-hitter). But he struggled to find that same success in Tennessee. The 24-year-old righty was 3-3 with a 6.14 ERA, though he still managed to fan 60 batters in 66.0 innings. He showed promise late into the season, giving up one earned run in his last three starts combined and striking out 18 batters in 16.1 innings.

Armando Rivero, RHP — Rivero is a bit of a mystery for the Cubs. Signed out of Cuba prior to this season, the 25-year-old right-hander threw just 30.1 innings of full-season minor league ball. In all, he totaled a 4.15 ERA at Kane County, Daytona and Tennessee, and struck out 45. Rivero’s outings could be some of the more closely monitored by the Cubs during play in Arizona.

Jorge Soler, OF — Shin and leg issues kept the 21-year-old Cuban out of action after the High-A Florida State League All-Star Game, but Soler still managed to make an impact. In 55 games, the corner outfielder hit .281/.343/.467 with eight homers and 13 doubles in 210 at-bats. Baseball’s No. 25 prospect will hopefully rack up some innings and plate appearances to get back on track for 2014.


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