Minor League affiliates announce 2015 Opening Day Rosters

Minor league season is upon us and rosters are being set.  It also means the daily minor league recaps are coming soon and you can bookmark them here.

The Cubs AA affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, just tweeted their Opening Day roster

Among the most interesting names are CJ Edwards, Kyle Schwarber, and Albert Almora who are arguably among the games top 100 prospects. Other top prospects to watch include Bijan Rademacher (OF), Dan Vogelbach (1B), Rob Zastryzny (LHP), and Corey Black (RHP).

The Cubs have a stacked AAA team and that kept some very good players back. Tennessee has quite a few returning players and while it is not as star-studded as the Iowa team, they should have the combination of talent and experience to make some noise in the Southern League — that is if they don’t lose too much to Iowa once those players start graduating to the big leagues.

Iowa Roster

It appears, for example, that Pierce Johnson will be in AAA. Johnson and Edwards are roughly at the same level from a development standpoint but perhaps Edwards shoulder issues have kept him down in warmer Tennessee. He will also have a harder time making the innings jump to be a full time starter this year, so the Cubs can afford to take their time a little bit and prepare him to compete for a big league spot in 2016.

Oddly enough, however, Johnson is not mentioned in this article on Iowa’s 2015 roster. If Johnson is on neither roster, it is possible he will stay back in extended spring training to work on some things before the season — but that is just speculation on my part.

We already know Iowa will feature an infield of Kris Bryant at 3B, Addison Russell at SS, and Javier Baez at 2B. Junior Lake will likely be in LF and Rafael Lopez will be the catcher. In addition to Johnson, they will also have quite a few MLB ready or near-ready pitchers in Eric Jokisch (L), Dallas Beeler (DL), Joe Ortiz (L), Armando Rivero, and Zac Rosscup (L).

Myrtle Beach (A+)

Another notable player who didn’t make the AA Smokies is newly acquired OF Billy McKinney, who will presumably start in High A Myrtle Beach. The same goes for fleet CF’er Jacob Hannemann. It is expected that much of the Myrtle Beach roster will feature players from the Kane County juggernaut of last season. Top players there include pitchers Duane Underwood, Jen-Ho Tseng, Paul Blackburn as well as 3B Jeimer Candelario, catcher Mark Zagunis, and OF Shawon Dunston, Jr.

UPDATE:  Here is the Myrtle Beach Roster.

Pitchers (14): RHPs Paul Blackburn (No. 27/No. 18), Matt BrazisJosh ConwayJonathan MartinezJuan PaniaguaStarling PeraltaJames PuglieseTayler ScottTyler SkulinaDaury Torrez (25/30), Jen-Ho Tseng (11/11), and Duane Underwood (8/10); LHPs Gerardo Concepcionand Michael Heesch.

Catchers (3): Victor Caratini (19/13), Ben CarhartAlberto Mineo

Infielders (6): Jeimer Candelario (15/24), Wesley DarvillAndrew ElyDaniel LockhartCarlos Penalver, and Jacob Rogers.

Outfielders (4): Shawon Dunston Jr., Jacob Hannemann (22/17), Billy McKinney (9/6), and Mark Zagunis (18/15).

South Bend (A)

South Bend has announced it’s roster as well (click here for full version).  Among some of the more notable names…


  • Jake Stinnett
  • Trevor Clifton
  • Erick Leal
  • James Norwood
  • Tommy Thorpe (L)
  • Jeremy Null


  • Justin Marra
  • Cael Brockmeyer
  • Gioskar Amaya


  • Gleyber Torres (SS)
  • Chesny Young (2B)


  • Trey Martin
  • Charcer Burks
  • Rashad Crawford
  • Jeffrey Baez
  • Yasiel Balaguert

You can see other prospect assignments here.

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  • Looking forward to catching a game or two when they come to Birmingham.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Not as stacked as they were last year but looking forward to the Almora/Schwarber combo. Edwards probably won't be there all season but some good pitchers one level down who could replace him.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Unfortunately, the Huntsville Stars moved to Mississippi so I might be joining you in Birmingham when the Smokies visit the first weekend in May ...

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Me too! I work at Good People Brewing across from the ballpark. Bham denizens feel free to stop by!

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    Pierce Johnson is on Iowa's official roster yet. Wonder why. Just so you know.

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    In reply to Cubsforlife:

    Their roster hasn't been announced yet. Only one, I believe.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:


  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ironically, CJE is listed...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Per AZ Phil, Pierce Johnson has an undisclosed injury. No news on how serious it is yet.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I had heard it was a back injury and he is expected in Tennessee relatively soon. Kind of curious what that does to the starting rotation there.

    Looks like the pitching is really starting to bottleneck in AAA and AA. It's going to be interesting when the high A guys start earning promotions.

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  • For those expecting to see CJE in Wrigley this year, this assignment makes it highly unlikely. Given his frame/build and the need to build up his inning count, this is the right thing to do. He could see AAA this summer, But even if he is lights out, I think a Sept BP appearance or two is the best we can hope for before 2016.

  • McKinney not on the AA roster but 3 catchers and 4 OF?

    Perhaps Schwarber in LF is something they will be looking at more than they let on.

  • In reply to WarningTrack:

    Once Remillard gets healthy and they decide Hankins is ready to play in games they are probably going to be carrying three catchers at every level. Most of their catchers can play other positions. Caratini plays corner IF, Schwarber LF, Amaya 2B/3B, Carhart and Hankins the same, Brockmeyer and Mineo 1B. They will mix and match quite a bit.

    And once Denorfia gets healthy there is a possibility that Szczur gets sent down and then one of the AAA guys bumps down to AA.

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    Just saw the initial power rankings. Cubs considerably underanked imo. They come in 20th just behind the A's. I will lop off my left nut if the A's have a better record than the Cubs this year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    That could end up a statement you regret making.

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    In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Maybe, but who do they have? Honestly, Beane is overrated imo. Traded their two best prospects, one of the best in baseball, and essentially got like 4 mid level prospects in return. Great move, huh. Traded Cespedes for Jon Lester who they obviously no longer have. Traded Josh Donaldson for somebody that won't be as good as him. They've had a real bad 9 months or so. Plus, it's a prosthetic.

  • In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    It definitely hurt them to lose that wild-card game because it made the trade with us look really, really bad. But you can't fault them for going for it. Beane always over-performs considering the resources he has available. I think you're underestimating them.

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    In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Indeed he does, but he'll have his work cut out for him this season. Off the top of my head, it seems Josh Reddick is their best player... doesn't sound like a great situation to be in.

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    In reply to TheMightyGin:

    If the As were not in such a tough division, I would almost guarnatee w any offense, they will be neck n neck w the Cubs. They have 2 pitchers in Jarrod Parker and AJ Griffin who both should be back by the all star break. It's almost like getting 2 solid starters a month or so before the trade deadline.

  • In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    I checked the power rankings yesterday on 6 different sites. The Cubs came in 9, 10, 10, 13, 15, and 19 on the 6 sites. Don't sweat the 19 it is just one of 6 opinions.

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    In reply to John57:

    Ok. I hadn't seen those, but tbh, I don't care much one way or another. I just couldn't believe Oakland was ahead of them, but I expect that was not the case in any of the others.

  • Seems like I recall a story from last summer where the Cubs signed an Iraqi veteran LHP and he finished the season in Arizona. Is he still with the Cubs organization? (i've tried to find a link to his story, but wasn't able to)

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    You are thinking of Daniel Lewis. He is in EXST. Will probably pitch in Eugene for the shortseason team or maybe see some time in South Bend


  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    He's a righty.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Thank you for both responses.
    Obviously, I'll be pulling for Mr. Lewis!

  • Couple things I noticed. I didnt actually look, but figured you would have mentioned it. Is Eloy jimenez not starting with gleybar torres? Also, is Zagunis no longer catching? Or, is that just like how Alcantara is listed as an infielder, but will play OF too?

  • In reply to jswick23:

    The signs seem to be pointing that Zagunis will get some time at C, but will be viewed primarily as an OF. The starting Catcher spot for every team was already filled by Lopez, Schwarber, Caratini, and Amaya.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    az phil reported that eloy was slated for extended spring training.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    Eloy struggled in the AZL last year. Torres made it to the NWL and had success in a small sample size. Jiminez has always been considered the more raw of the two. Torres will probably always be ahead of him through the system.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    I think AZ Phil has mentioned that Zagunis has strictly been an OF this spring.

  • Looking forward to seeing the pitchers and Torres especially when South Bend comes through Peoria!

  • Kind of surprised to see Stinnett at South Bend. Anyone see/hear much about him this ST?

    I thought he was on a A+ level last year when drafted.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Zastryzny, Johnson, Skulina all began in low A.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Skulina and Zastryzny piggy backed in Low A at the tail end of their draft year. In their 1st full year Skulina stayed in low A and Zastryzny started in high A and got lit up early in the year.

  • In reply to LOB8591:

    And Stinnett barely pitched after being drafted. The Cubs have pretty consistently gotten all of their college guys time in the MWL.

  • CJ beginning in AA? Stinnett in South Bend? No Carson Sands? This means one thing...the Cubs have been loading up on pitching taken, and it is starting to show. Have we officially thrown in the towel on Dillon Maples?

  • In reply to CubsFaninNC:

    Seeing as Maples has never had success outside of the rookie leagues, and even that has been fleeting, I think you can stop hoping. They still have him in EXST as it doesn't hurt to keep guys around that throw 95+ just in case they figure it out.

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    Long-time reader, first time commenter. Assuming health, CJ will end the year in AAA. We can expect the proverbial "cup of coffee" appearance on the big league roster towards the end of the '16 season; most likely out of the bullpen for a multitude of reasons.

  • In reply to Paul Sigrist:

    Welcome. That is most likely accurate. He's probably on an innings cap this year, but I could see some September bullpen appearances to give him a taste.

  • In reply to Paul Sigrist:

    Welcome Paul....I say CJ comes up the third week of April 2017 so we can control his service time, er, so he can "work" on his delivery at Iowa. :)

  • So was Taylor Teagarden cut loose or will he be added to the Iowa Cubs roster at a later date???

  • Surprised McKinney isn't starting in AA.

  • Where is Daniel Bard these days?

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