Yesterday, we saw the A-ball Peoria Chiefs’ Opening Day roster, which included a surprise or two, and today we get the High-A Daytona Cubs.
The Daytona Cubs are slated to open with 13 pitchers (nine RHP, four LHP), two catchers, six infielders and three outfielders, according to a press release from the team.
Among the three outfielders is Matt Szczur, who finished the 2011 season in Daytona. Szczur struggled a bit to end the year (it was a long, long year for him), and he’ll be given a chance to get his bearings before moving up to AA Tennessee. The other two outfielders to start the year are Nelson Perez, and a player who goes unnamed in the official press release (it could be Rubi Silva, though he’s been considered at second base at times; or 2011 draftee John Andreoli, or Elieser Bonne).
The infield is highlighted by second baseman Ronald Torreyes, the diminutive prospect the Cubs grabbed from the Reds in the Sean Marshall deal. He’s an incredibly good hitter, and he’ll be one of the most interesting players to watch this year. Other infielders include Greg Rohan and Richard Jones, as well as (probably) Arismendy Alcantara and Dustin Harrington.
The two catchers on the squad to start the year will be Chad Noble and Micah Gibbs. The latter was a 3rd round pick in 2010.
On the pitching side, the first name that jumps out is 2010 first round pick, Hayden Simpson. The 22-year-old starter has had a rough go of it with the Cubs. He didn’t pitch after the Draft in 2010, suffered through a serious case of mono, had elbow problems, and was a disaster in 2011, eventually winding up in rookie ball (and struggling). I expected Simpson to start the year in extended Spring Training, so his placement in Daytona is something of a surprise. Perhaps even a pleasant one.
Among the other pitchers of note: 22-year-old lefty Erik Jokisch was one of the Cubs’ better pitchers last year, even getting a few starts at AA in his first full year in the minors. He’ll be one to watch. There’s also 2011 4th round pick Tony Zych, 2011 no-hitter-thrower Austin Kirk, and probably-eventual relief prospect Frank Del Valle. The other pitchers on the roster are AJ Morris, Brett Wallach, Larry Suarez, Casey Harman, Eduardo Figueroa, Ty’Relle Harris, Matt Loosen, and Brian Schlitter.
When he’s ready to start seeing game action, I’d expect Robert Whitenack – who’s coming back from early 2011 Tommy John surgery – to head to Daytona, as well.
The Daytona Cubs should be a solid squad this year, and a possible terminal destination for some of the organization’s top younger prospects, if they progress enough at the lower levels early in the year. I could see any combination of Gerardo Concepcion, Dillon Maples, Javier Baez, or Dan Vogelbach getting a cup of coffee in Daytona at the very end of the year, depending on how things shake out. It’s possible, if not likely.