Cubs officially announce 2018 Minor League coordinators and field staff

It took a little longer than usual for these announcements to be made but the Cubs finally released their Minor League coaching staff assignments and officially named their new Minor League pitching and hitting coordinators. Perhaps the changes made to the MLB coaching staff caused a trickle down effect in which the organization wanted to take their time and make sure everyone is on the same page heading into the 2018 season. It is imperative at the Minor League level to have a cohesive development plan across all levels.

The good news is, there are relatively few changes across the system, which should provide for great stability. The four full season managers all return. Marty Pevey will become the longest tenured manager in Iowa Cubs history and is primed to hit a pair of personal milestones this April. He is not only three wins shy of the franchise record for victories (356) but he is also three wins shy of 1,000 in his career. This comes a season after Myrtle Beach manager Buddy Bailey became just the 11th man in Minor League Baseball history to amass more than 2,000 wins. Mark Johnson returns for his 3rd straight season in Tennessee and Jimmy Gonzalez for his 4th with South Bend.

Now on to the changes. After leading the Eugene Emeralds to two consecutive League Championship Series (and a 2016 title), Jesus Feliciano moves up the ladder and replaces Jacob Cruz as the hitting coach in Tennessee. That vacancy exists because Cruz has been promoted to the post of Minor League hitting coordinator. Last year was the first in the organization for the nine year MLB veteran, but after a successful stint with the Smokies, the Cubs rewarded him with a stint as the hitting coach for the Mesa club in the Arizona Fall League, and now Cruz will be in charge of overseeing the hitters at all levels.

The Cubs also had a vacancy to fill for the pitching coordinator job as well. This time they went outside the organization to fill to role. The ownership changeover in Miami allowed the Cubs to hire Brendan Sagara away from the Marlins. A pitching coach with 17 years of experience, he was the assistant pitching coordinator for the Marlins last season.

Replacing Feliciano in the Eugene dugout will be Steve Lerud. This will mark the coaching debut for the recently retired former pro catcher. Carmelo Martinez, Lance Rymel and Pedro Gonzalez return to their posts leading the Rookie Level Mesa and the Cubs two Dominican Summer League clubs respectively. Some exciting news comes in the form of the announcement that the Cubs will field a second Rookie League team in Mesa beginning in 2018. The club will be lead by longtime Cubs farmhand Jonathan Mota, who spent last season as the hitting coach in South Bend.

Here are the full press releases for the coordinators and field staff.

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  • Thanks. These guys matter more than most people realize. Brewers had a team ERA+ of 95 (below league average) in 2015, then stole Derek Johnson out of our system. He moved them to 105 in 2016 and 110 in 2017, fairly substantial improvement with mostly the same guys. He probably had more to do with their wins going from 68 to 72 to 86 in the same period and giving us quite a scare until mid-September.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    It was a surprise when Derek Johnson left especially after the good work he seemed to be doing with the Cubs farm.

    Was he poached or was he happy to leave because of differences of philosophy with Bosio...?

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    He left for a promotion. He is the Brewers MLB pitching coach

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    I agree. This is where the real work is done and most of the advances the players make is because of the teaching done by all these coaches. We ought to recognize them so thanks Michael for doing that.

  • Good to see Jonathan Mota getting a chance to manage. Jonathan and I go back to when he was playing for Single A Peoria. He was very helpful last season as an assistant with South Bend, always willing to be interviewed and serving as an interpreter for the Spanish speaking players.

    Jonathan has a very good baseball mind and was well respected by the players.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    Watched Mota for many years. Couldn't ask for a better org player. Wish the team would have given him a cup of coffee at the end of one of their rebuilding years.

  • Coaches are so important to a team that we should get the best
    we can. This young prospects must learn the right skills correctly

  • Adding the second team in Mesa sounds like a good idea.

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    Totally off subject, but I for one wouldn't mind the cubs signing Darvish and Cobb for the next few years, I realize this would take us out of Harper and Machado, but pitching is what this team needs for the next 3-5 years and this would really bolster our chances...
    We have enough position players to compete right now, the only thing we might need would be a closer if our BP doesn't have one.

  • In reply to tater:

    The Cubs have 4 starters under contract for 2018 and 5 starters under contract for 2019 (including Smyly). Signing 2 more (at the cost those guys would entail) is overkill. Yes, it would free the team up to trade someone, but it is not allowed to trade a guy you just signed, so Chatwood, Darvish, Smyly and Cobb would be ineligible. That would mean the team would be looking at trading one of Lester, Q or Hendricks and that seems both unlikely and counterproductive.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Totally agree that they need a max of one more starter. The bigger issue is contract length. Hendricks, Quintana, and Chatwood are all free agents after the 2020 season. Only Lester (and Montgomery if you want to count him as a starter) are under control for 2021. You've written at length on the farm system. Even if the stars align, it is tough to picture an all-internal staff for 2021 with a 37 year old Lester. Four years of Cobb (youngest) would fit nicely as the position player core is still controlled in 2021.

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    In reply to charactercounts:

    I like Darvish, then Cobb.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    It's not something I would advocate for a team that plans to contend, but if they just aren't comfortable with any of the 3 remaining, they could go to Spring training with Montgomery as the 5th starter and see where they are in July. Either trading for someone or moving Alzolay into the 5th role might be options at that point.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Would Andrew Cashner on a 1 year deal in the number 5 spot be better than Montgomery in the 5 spot?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I would not mind going in to Spring Training and the season as is. Sometimes it's better to not win the off season moves award.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree w/you on this one (but Not on Yelich).

    Also besides Montgomery as 5, there is Butler, Tseng, Mills as “possible” options until/unless a deadline deal would be necessary. Azolay would have to really be locating, commanding & be dominating for them to put in rotation this year. (Would love for that to happen though). He could definitely be in the mix for 2019.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    When you take emotion out of a trade for Yelich and start trying to think logically about current and future roster construction, trading for Yelich does not make a lot of sense.

    Your post made me think about a story I read (probably by John or Michael) that said during the Lester presentation before signing, they showed him a projected lineup for 2016 that included Heyward as their center fielder. This FO is working in the present and future simultaneously.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Although Yelich would be nice to have, He’s just not worth the ammo needed to get him. Happ/Almora/Heyward can cover CF. A combo of Zobrist/Almora/Happ or a KB experiment could handle leadoff. Yelich has hit primarily in the 3 slot his brief career but I could see him in a leadoff role somewhere.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'd be okay with standing pat if they do not feel comfortable with the health outlooks of Darvish or Arrieta. Both are risks on 4-5 year deals.

    I say it every year: you never have to make a deal for a pitcher, especially over the winter. There is always going to be options available in-season. And if you wait, you let the other team carry the injury risk burden for half the year. The Cubs are in a position where they care more about October than April. There can get to the party with what they have. They can improve their odds once they get there if they can pick up a big arm, but that only matters if that arm is available in October.

    And for the first time in a long time, the Cubs will actually have in house depth. Alzolay, Tseng, Underwood, Mills will all be in AAA. Hatch, De La Cruz, Rucker, Clifton in AA. Obviously not all will pan out, but there is a good chance that one can play a role this year and then another in 2019 (along with the return of Smyly).

    The Cubs do not need to act out of desperation. They have depth. They can use a difference maker, sure. Darvish seems best suited for that, but he is also a TJS guy with a lot of mileage on his arm. The trade market may prove the better route in the end.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Bleacher Nation had a good take on the Duensing signing, essentially saying it frees the Cubs to move Montgomery to the rotation. But I’d still rather add Cobb!

  • At this point I don't care if the cubs sign darvish or cobb just plug montgomery or tseng in the 5th spot and by mid season maybe alzolay can be the 5th starter. I don't want arrieta back period, sorry no nostalgia over here arrieta is on the decline let him walk.

    Keep mid season trade options open and keep the powder dry for next winter. With that one time 50 million dollar payment to all mlb teams and the cubs not spending the 30-35 million in available dollars below the luxury tax you'll be grateful a year from now when the cubs sign a big time free agent. The cubs believe in adbert alzolay and so do I. Forget darvish,cobb, arrieta and their ridiculous contract demands.Only way I want any of them is on a one year pillow contract.

  • It's starting to feel like if the Cubs sign one of Cobb, Darvish, or Areatta, that it will be because one of them fell in their lap at the price already offered.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think they sign wither Darvish or Cobb and still think it is possible to trade for Archer or Salazar. I think they want to upgrade the rotation and prefer Montgomery in the bullpen.

  • I am OK with Mike Montgomery as 5th starter in April. Duensing is designated Lefty. Trade as the season goes on or pick up a Scott Feldman type for one year. Cashner is a possibility, maybe Lance Lynn. You could do worse. Theo is a genius at finding these guys under a rock. I also love Albers for a year. His stuff was sensational last year. Why should we expect a big dropoff this season. Dillon Maples also intrigues me because of his narrative but I just haven’t really seen enough of him on the tube. Grimm, grim. His curve looks fabulous yet the hitters devour him. Edwards, just cannot work too often. Wilson? Who knows. Will he be pummeled again like Tom Hanks’ volleyball? Pitching. Chancy as a pinball game.

  • Cubs killer Randall grichuk traded to the blue jays!!!!!

  • In reply to bolla:

    To replace Bautista, yet...wonder how his bat flips are.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Randal Grichuk's 2017 stats vs Cubs

    .375 BA
    .405 OBP
    5 HR
    11 Rbi
    2 Opening day HRs

    He's one of those guys (like Jeff Blauser, Carlos Lee, Daniel Murphy) that the Cubs never could get out.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Exactly. I seriously use to get nervous when grichuk stepped in the box vs the cubs especially in a close game.

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