For today’s Down on the Farm Report we pick up where we left off on Monday, taking a look at the Cubs’ minor league coaching staffs. Monday’s post covered the Daytona Cubs, Tennessee Smokies and Iowa Cubs, so today we start with the Cubs Low-A clubs. These guys will be working with the really young prospects that need some instruction, so having the right coaches is important.
Class-A Peoria Chiefs
Manager- Casey Kopitzke
Kopitzke was in the Cubs’ organization as the manager of the Boise Hawks in 2009, but this will be his first year in charge of the Chiefs. He spent two seasons (’07-’08) as the minor league catching coordinator for the Cubs. As a player, Casey was drafted by the Cubs in the 27th round of the 1999 June draft. His minor league catching career all took place in the Cubs’ organization. Kopitzke’s playing career finished in 2006 with a 30-game stint in Iowa. He returned as a coach the very next season.
Pitching Coach- David Rosario
Rosario served as the pitching coach on Kopitzke’s staff in 2009, and the two will make the jump up to Peoria together. David has been a pitching coach in the system since 2005. He was with the Hawks from ’05 to ’06, then made one year stops at both Peoria and Daytona before returning to Boise in 2009. One of Rosario’s accomplishments was leading the 2008 Daytona Cubs’ pitching staff to a Florida State League title.
Hitting Coach- Barbaro Garbey
This will be Garbey’s second season as the hitting coach for the Chiefs. Before going in to coaching, Barbaro spent three years in Major League Baseball as a utility man. He played with the Detroit Tigers in 1984 and 1985 and then appeared in 30 games with Texas in ’88 before disappearing from the big league scene. In his first year after coming over from Cuba, Garbey played a key role for the 1984 World Champion Tigers. He has coached for the West Michigan Whitecaps, Peoria Chiefs, and Tennessee Smokies in his time with the Cubs. His brother and sister were both Olympic athletes.
Class-A Short Season Boise Hawks
Manager- Jody Davis
Since his All Star playing career with the Cubs and Braves, Davis, like Ryne Sandberg, has returned to baseball as a minor league coach. Jody is another guy who could be on a big league staff in the future. He was a fan/Harry Caray favorite in his eight years as a Cub catcher.
In 2010, Jody Davis will return to the dugout as a manger after spending last season in an unfamiliar role as the minor league catching coordinator. Prior to that, he managed the Peoria Chiefs (2006) and the Daytona Cubs (2007-08). Since the Boise Hawks do not begin their season until after the First Year Player Draft in June, Davis will serve as the manager of the Cubs “Extended Spring Training” team at Fitch Park in April and May.
Many guys that are ticketed for Boise or Rookie Ball will play in these games at Fitch as they await the start of their seasons. Guys recovering from injuries will also be assigned to Davis’ extended spring squad.
Pitching Coach- Jeff Fassero
Another familiar name to Cubs fans, Fassero is set to begin his first year as a coach after a 16 year big league playing career. A native of Springfield, Illinois, Jeff played with the Cubs in 2001 and 2002. He also pitched for the Expos, Mariners, Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals, Rockies, D’backs, and Giants. Jeff announced his retirement in February of 2007, but after that he did some pitching in Mexico. Fassero posted a career ERA of 4.11.
Hitting Coach- Ricardo Medina
Medina played in the Cubs’ organization as a minor league corner infielder from 1989-1994. In 2007, he returned to the Cubs managing the Mesa Cubs Rookie Ball team to a 27-29 record. Since then, he has coached for the Cubs’ Dominican Summer League team and for Mesa. This will be his first year on the Boise staff. Medina also has international coaching experience as a coach for Panama in the 2007 Baseball World Cup and in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. His brother, Rafael, is a former big league pitcher.
Rookie Ball Mesa Cubs
Manager- Juan Cabreja
Cabreja is set to embark on his seventh year in the organization and his second as Mesa’s manager. The Arizona League will be comprised of mostly guys who are drafted in June. Their season will not begin until after the First Year Player Draft. Mesa plays their home games at Fitch Park. Juan’s club went 29-27 in 2009, which was good enough for a 3rd place finish.
Pitching Coach- Rick Tronerud
Rick has found a nice home as the Mesa pitching coach, a position he has held for 10 straight years. Tronerud pitched for four years in the Oakland A’s farm system from 1978-1981 all at AA. He was a 14th round draft pick in 1972. Rick has lots of experience working with young ballplayers, which should work to his advantage as the Mesa Cubs’ pitching coach.
Hitting Coach- Desi Wilson
Wilson will join Mesa after serving as the Peoria Chiefs’ hitting coach last season. He had a brief one year playing career, hitting .271 for the Giants in 1996. Wilson, a first baseman, retired from professional baseball in 2006 after a 16-year playing career. His final years were spent with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League. Desi jumped right into coaching taking over as manager for the Anderson, SC team in the newly former South Coast League (independent league). He joined the Cubs in 2008, spending the next two years with Peoria and Boise.
Dominican Summer League Clubs
The Cubs will have two teams in the DSL against this year. Here is a brief look at some of the coaches.
DSL Cubs #1 manager- Manuel Callado
DSL Cubs #1 pitching cocach- Leo Hernandez
This will be Leo’s 15th year with the club! As a player, Hernandez got into 85 games over the course of a four-year big league career. Most of those games were with Baltimore, but the final seven were with the Yankees in 1986.
DSL Cubs #1 hitting coach- Alberto Garcia
This will be Garcia’s first year as the DSL Cubs hitting coach. He is making a return to the Cubs system after he spent five years there as a player from 2003 to 2007. He played first base and outfield. He reached his peak in 2007, playing in three games with AAA Iowa and 11 games with AA Tennessee. The rest of his career was spent at Class A or lower.
DSL Cubs #2 Manager- TBA
DSL Cubs #2 Pitching Coach- Anderson Tavares
Tavares will handle pitching duties for the Cubs for the fourth year in a row. As a player, Tavares was in the Cubs organization from 2003-2005. His best season was a 12-9 year with Class-A Lansing in 2003. That season he posted a 3.24 ERA in 25 starts.
DSL Cubs #2 Hitting Coach- Leo Perez
This will be Leo’s second year as a pitching coach in the Dominican.
More About Brandon
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Farm Report Notes
Look out for the final part of our minor league coaching staff series next week on Monday! We will take a look at the Cubs’ roving instructors.
Minor League Opening Day is just two weeks away! Starting on April 8, my reports will feature updates and recaps from all of the Cubs minor league games plus other news and notes.