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.

  • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

    I’m not sure why Del Valle is usually listed as a probable relief prospect. He’s pitched as a starter so far, and he absolutely shut down the Mets in the FSL Championship series as a starter. He may move to the bullpen full time one day, but I’d be very surprised if the Cubs have given up on him as a starter already.

    Ty’Relle Harris is another interesting injury recovery story. He was badly injured in a hit-and-run while playing for the Smokies last season. He was looking like a middle (or possibly a late inning) relieve prospect when the incident happened. If he recovers fully, he should move up the farm system quickly.

    Also in the outfield will be Elieser Bonne. If I understand the story right, Bonne just showed up for a tryout at the Cubs Dominican facility a year or two ago and looked very impressive. The Cubs signed him, and he put up good enough numbers in the DSL last year that the Cubs decided to keep him around despite being much older than the typical DSL prospect. Some reports indicate he is polished enough already that he could rise through the system quickly. No idea on what this guy’s ceiling is. Old-time scouting types dismiss him immediately solely because of his age, while the new-school stat types don’t have the data to be sure what to make of him. We’ll keep an eye on him.

    The (probably) official and complete Daytona roster is up on their website now.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He’s not listed as a probable reliever by them, that was me – I guess I’ve just always thought of him that way because of his relatively short starts last year. He’ll continue starting, obviously, but I wasn’t thinking of him as a long-term starter prospect as far as the big team was concerned.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        A lot of people stick him into the reliever camp.  I suspect in many cases it’s because he’s only 5’11” and there is an assumption in many baseball circles that starting pitchers have to be tall.  I’ve never bought into that line or reasoning myself, but it is fairly common.

        I suspect the Cubs will handle him like they did Dolis and Carpenter; they’ll keep him in the rotation until circumstances or his pitches clearly force him into the pen, and then they’ll see if he can close.  He’s got the stuff to close, and if reports on his breaking ball are to be believed he could have the arsenal to be a No 2 starter one day.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          And it always makes sense to keep starting a kid who is a legit prospect, if for no other reason than you guarantee him innings.

        • Rynorooter

          What closers have a 88-92 mph fastball? Because that’s all that Del Valle has.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Several reports have him reaching 96 while he was with Peoria.

            Edit: http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2011/08/the-cubs-top-international-prospects/

            • Rynorooter

              It was a scoreboard malfunction on a 88 mph pitch, in which a light or two didn’t light up on the first 8. Nate Baliva, the Chiefs announcer, admitted this and called it slightly embarrassing. First hand scouts have him at 88-92, although it has a lot of movement. Good breaking ball, and a decent change.

          • ferrets_bueller

            Trevor hoffman.

            • Rynorooter

              Del Valle doesn’t have the otherworldly changeup that Hoffman had.

          • AB

            sweaty Joe

            • ferrets_bueller

              Bahaha. Forgot that nickname.

    • ArturoGuez

      There is absolutely no sound baseball reason that a D1 college All American with a career .350 BA who is 6’3″ and 215 lbs with plus athletic ability and a cannon arm should not be in affilated Pro baseball.

  • Puma0821

    So it seems that a lot of the “top prospects” will be sticking around Arizona… That’s a little disapointing. The two A-clubs are missing Baez, Vogelbach, Golden, Maples, Candelario, Amaya, Concepcion and a few of the young catchers. Living in Iowa I was hoping to catch a couple Chiefs games. When do you expect we’ll see these guys?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Golden is on Peoria’s roster.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Reggie Golden will open the season in Peoria.

      Concepcion just got to the US a few weeks ago.  The Cubs will give him plenty of time to adjust before the drop him into a league, but when they do it could be any league from the Arizona Rookie League to the FSL Daytona Cubs.

      Amaya is reportedly injured. He should report to Peoria when he is healthy.

      Baez, Vogelbach, and Candelario are all three candidates to open in Boise, or to jump into Peoria later this season.  I thought Baez and Vogelbach could have opened the season with Peoria, but some extra time in extended spring training won’t hurt any of them at all.

      I would also pencil Maples in for Boise at this stage, but that could change if the Cubs do decide to rework his mechanics.  If that happens, he’ll likely open the season in the Rookie League.

  • Mrp

    I’m a little bummed to not see any of Baez, Vogelbach, Conception or Maples to start at Peoria this season. I completely understand why and agree with taking it slow with them, but I would have loved to see them play when the Cheifs come to Ft. Wayne and South Bend. Oh well, there are still some interesting guys to go check out nonetheless.

    IF Soler ever ends up becoming eligible for free agency and IF we end up signing him, where would you guys think he would end up starting out?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Extended spring training for a few weeks while the Cubs evaluate him, and then either Boise, Peoria, or Daytona.


  • PeteG

    Does the Epstein/Hoyer regime promote quickly? Obviously I don’t know much about how they run the minors.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’ve been looking back at data on Red Sox and Padres prospects over the past few days trying to figure that out myself.

      I don’t think we’ll see much of a difference from the way the Cubs were run prior to the new front office.  Both the Red Sox and Padres were selectively aggressive in prospect promotion, similar to the Cubs under Hendry.  I think the Padres may have been a touch quicker to promote than the Cubs or Red Sox, but all three were similar in their handling.

      Keep in mind as well that many of the decisions regarding where to place players and how soon to promote them will come from Oneri Fleita and his staff rather than directly from Theo or Jed.  I don’t think he’ll change his course much… nor should he.

      • Eric

        I would think Hoyer might second guess some of his aggressive promotions after Rizzo’s performance last year.

      • DocWimsey

        I think that Theo’s Sox tended to draft more college players than did Hendry’s Cubs. So, a lot of guys went through the Sox system pretty quickly, but they were older in the first place.

  • RoughRiider

    It’s good to see Ty’Relle Harris back. There hasn’t been much news about him since the accident. I’m pulling for him to make a full recovery and start off where he left off.

  • Dick

    Has anyone heard about Whitenack’s progress? Was he in camp at Fitch?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He was. He’s been described as a super fast healer, but was still limited duty. He went under the knife in May, so I wouldn’t have expected him back in games until May, but Oneri Fleita has been very optimistic about his return. Assuming he’s still healthy (haven’t heard in a little while), I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back later this month.

      • hardtop

        “He’s been described as a super fast healer”

        like wolverine.  thats sweet.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Less adamantium. Only slightly less, though.

          • MichiganGoat

            But is the adamantium scrappy?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Not so much scrappy as scratchy.

          • BeyondFukudome

            Let’s get some bats corked with adamantium…

      • AB

        “but Oneri Fleita has been very optimistic about his return”

        In other news, the Earth is turning.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    The Tennessee roster is now on the Smokies website.  I think we are still waiting for Iowa roster to be finalized (and the Chicago Cubs to pick their bullpen), but other than that the four full season leagues have their rosters in.

  • Puma0821

    So I looked at the smokies roster(Who have an exibition game today) on their website, No Junior Lake. Is he going to be in AAA? Also, he is not on the I-Cubs roster but Blake Dewitt is. Is there anything to take away from this?

    Edit: Also Manny Corpas is shown on the AAA roster and Campana isn’t?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’m not sure where Junior Lake is right now.  If he has any minor injuries, he could be opening in extended spring training.  I haven’t heard of anything serious, though.

      • Puma0821

        I assume this doesn’t mean the Corpas and Dewitt will be sent down and Castillo and Camapana are in… Although that would be great!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          The Iowa and Chicago rosters are not yet final.  They are close, but not yet there.  Tennessee is closer to final than those two, but locked down quite yet.

          I definitely wouldn’t read anything into who is or isn’t on the Iowa roster.

          • DocWimsey

            How much of those rosters are “need” dependent (Tenn. needs a CFer, so we’ll put X there)? It seems like a strange situation of potentially conflicting criteria, i.e., developing players for Chicago on the other while fielding a AA team on one hand.

      • ty

        Junior is at Fitch rehabbing.

  • Eric

    I was hoping to see some exciting guys at Peroria be it Torreyes, or Concepcion or any other real well known notables. Since Peoria is the only farm team I’ll ever beable to see, since they come to Kane County. Question: Is there ever anybody exciting at Peoria or is it pretty much a bit of “meh” players, with all the notables skipping up to High A Daytona?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Reggie Golden could be the Cubs right fielder of the future.  He’s got five tool potential and is the most powerful true outfield bat in the system.

      Zeke DeVoss has a very good chance to be the Cubs lead off hitter and second baseman of the future.  He needs to work on his defense, but he should be a lot of fun to watch on the base paths.

      Marco Hernandez is the best shortstop prospect in the system, and probably the best the Cubs have had since Castro was promoted and Lee was traded.

      Pin-Chieh Chen is a very fast slap hitter who could move up the system in a hurry.  Hard to project his ceiling, but he has the tools to hit for average.

      Taiwan Easterling was much more polished than anyone expected when he started playing after the 2011 draft.  Along with DeVoss and Chen, he should make Peoria one of the fastest teams we’ve seen in a long time.

      And that pitching staff is deep.  There is a lot of potential in the Peoria rotation and bullpen.  Several of those guys could emerge as No 3 starters before its all said and done.

      This is already the most exciting and prospect-rich Low-A team we’ve seen in the Cubs’ system in years.  Peoria fans are in for a great summer.

      • Ron Swanson

        Reggie Golden came to the Cubs in a trade, no?

        • TWC

          He was drafted by the Cubs (in 2010, I think).

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Indeed.  2nd round of 2010.

      • DocWimsey

        It seems like Golden’s K rate might be a bit high for him to generate a high batting average, but his high walk rate (close to 10%) could make up for that. However, that rate is based on only 300 PAs: is his pitch recognition as good as the walks suggest?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          BA says his pitch recognition needs work, but it’d be tough for him to reach that walk rate if he didn’t have some proficiency in that department.  We’ll get a better idea now that he’s in a full season league.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          On Golden, Keith Law had him as the Sleeper prospect in the Cubs system this year:
          I was never a big Reggie Golden fan out of the draft. I saw an athletic kid with poor pitch recognition who could get tied up inside, but he has made adjustments faster than I anticipated, recognizing breaking balls better and playing stronger defense in right field. His main issue going forward will be conditioning, as he has a maintenance body with a low center of gravity, but I’m coming around on his chance to have some impact with the bat. Also keep an eye on center fielder Taiwan Easterling if you like extreme sleepers. He’s a two-sport guy who had more at-bats after signing last June than he did the previous two seasons at Florida State combined.

          • DocWimsey

            Given Law’s analysis, I wonder if a better description was that he learned how to swing at breaking balls rather than learned how to recognize them. Those are two separate skills, one of which is easier to develop from scratch than the other.

            Law makes it read like Golden is cut from the Kirby Puckett mold: is that the case?

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              I think Golden is built like a running back.

          • ty

            Interesting athlete but I do not see enough progress from the first day he arrived. Hope not but may be Nelson Perez whom I hung my hat on for too long.

  • Puma0821

    I had totally forgotten that Nate Robertson was on the team… Whats the deal with him? Iowa? Extended spring training?

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Needs tend to be filled by minor league veterans, not prospects.  For example, if Iowa needed a CF, the Cubs would not rush Szczur to Iowa just to fill that hole.  They’d shuffle some veterans around (or sign one) and fill it that way until a prospect is ready for that position at that level.

    • DocWimsey

      That makes sense. It’s just not something that gets a lot of publicity. I guess the one way I could see it affecting prospects is if you have (say) 2 top notch catchers who are AAA ready. You would want both to be playing full time, so perhaps you’d keep one at AA. However, my guess is that this problem occurs very rarely.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Happened to the Cubs last year.  Castillo blocked Clevenger from playing full time in Iowa.

        I tend to see that sort of thing more at the lower levels than the upper levels.  We’ll likely see prospects blocking other prospects or prospects being promoted to clear a blockage a couple of times this season.

        • ty

          I remember a few years ago Oneri telling me that he had 4 catchers selected to all star teams and it was a nice dilemma at the moment–believe Chirnos was traded to alleviate the log jam. I see this same scenario with middle infielders now.

  • Ryan

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see some aggressive promoting between low A, high A and AA but i doubt we see a hardly and promoting from AA to AAA or the MLB this year

  • BT

    I hadn’t thought of that.

  • ferrets_bueller

    AND fat kids? No WAY!!!

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