Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 03/29/10

Today, we continue our look at the coaches in the Cubs minor league system. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series if you haven’t yet. So far, the coaches that we’ve profiled stay with one team throughout the year. There are other coaches in the system, called roving instructors, who travel to all the different affiliates to check in. These guys are the coordinators for their area for the entire organization.

Minor League Pitching Coordinator- Mark Riggins
Mark Riggins is beginning his third year as the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator. He came over in 2008 after spending 12 years in the same capacity with the rivaled St. Louis Cardinals.

Riggins was a left-handed pitcher who played in the minor leagues from 1979-1983. His entire minor league career was in the Cardinals’ system. He spent the 1995 season as St. Louis’ big league pitching coach. He also managed the Louisville Redbirds in 1992.

Riggins will make stops in Daytona, Peoria, Iowa, and Tennessee during the first few months of the season. Each stop usually lasts around five days so Mark can see each starting pitcher for that club.

Minor League Outfield & Baserunning Coordinator- Bobby Dernier
The former Cubs outfielder enters his fourth season as a roving instructor in the organization. When he spends time with a club, Dernier usually likes to coach first base so that he can get a better look at the young base runners. Bobby’s baserunning track record speaks for itself, 218 steals and caught just 63 times in his ten-year career with the Cubs and Phillies. Dernier is a still a fan favorite everywhere he goes, signing autographs and interacting with the fans. Perhaps someday he will be a part of the coaching staff in Chicago.

Minor League Infield Coordinator- Franklin Font
Font is set for his second season as the Cubs’ minor league infield coordinator. He has been with the organization since 2002 as either a coach or manager. Prior to that, he played in the organization from 1996-2000 as a middle infielder.

Font had a .287 batting average over the five years, all at AA or lower. Font was the manager of the 2008 Mesa Cubs squad, the Boise hitting coach in 2007, a member of Mesa’s coaching staff from 2003-2004, and managed the Cubs’ Dominican and Venezuelan Rookie clubs.

Minor League Hitting Coordinator- Dave Keller
This winter, Keller was considered for the open hitting coach job with the Chicago Cubs. However, the Cubs decided to go to the free agent hitting coach pool and snag Rudy Jaramillo, so instead Dave will return for his seventh season as hitting coordinator.

Keller was a major league staff assistant and bullpen catcher for the Cleveland Indians from 2001-2003. Keller’s coaching career began when he managed for a Reds’ farmhand in 1987. As a player, he was picked by the Reds in the 28th round of the 1982 draft, but never made it past Class-A in his brief three-year career as a first baseman.

Minor League Catching Coordinator- Marty Pevey
Marty Pevey will remain in the organization in 2010, but this year he’ll find himself learning a new position as a roving catching instructor. Last year, Jody Davis coordinated the minor league catching, but this year Marty will take over as Davis returns to the dugout with Boise. Last year was Pevey’s first with the organization. He managed the Peoria Chiefs to an 81-57 mark.

Pevey broke into the big leagues and appeared in 13 games for the 1989 Expos. After that, Marty would not see the Major League Baseball diamond as a player again, partly because of injuries. After his playing career, Pevey spent nine years as a manager in the Blue Jays chain. In 1999, he returned to the big league scene as the Blue Jays bullpen coach. From 2005-2008, he was Toronto’s first base coach. After the Jays fired him in June of ’08, he brought his years of baseball experience to the Cubs.

Minor League Field Coordinator- Dave Bialas
The 2010 season will be Dave’s eighth as the Cubs’ field coordinator and his 16th year in the organization. He has a 13-year minor league managerial career under his belt. During that time, he led his club to six league championship series. As a player, Bialas was an outfielder in the Cardinals’ system from 1972-1982. His career batting average was .274. As soon as his playing days were done, he turned to managing.

Bialas was with in the Cardinals’ system from 1982-1992. Then, he became the San Diego Padres bullpen coach from 1993-1994 and held the same position in Chicago from 1995-1999. Next, he returned to the minors, taking over the AA West Tenn Diamond Jacks, a Cub affiliate at the time, in 2000.

Latin American Field Coordinator- Carmelo Martinez
Another coaching veteran, Martinez enters his 13th year with the Cubs and his third at this position. For the first ten years of his coaching career, he was on the Mesa Cubs staff. He managed Mesa from 1999-2003 and in 2006. His nine-year playing career started with 29 games with the Cubs in 1983, followed by stops in San Diego, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. He played left field and first base.

Other Cubs Minor League News & Notes

  • The Peoria Chiefs have announced that they will take on Bradley University on April 7 in an exhibition game at O’Brien Field.
  • All of the minor league baseball websites have a new format. Check it out on www.iowacubs.com or any other Cub farm hand website.
  • Chiefs’ radio broadcaster Nathan Baliva has started a new blog that he will update throughout the season.
  • Starlin Castro has been playing for AA Tennessee in Spring Training games at Fitch Park. If Castro starts the year at AA, then Ryan Flaherty and D.J. LeMahieu will see time at second and third base.
  • According to Nick Gates of Knoxnews, outfielder/first baseman Matt Spencer will start the year on the DL with a broken toe. He suffered the injury on a ball hit off hit foot last week. The left handed hitting Spencer came to the Cubs in the deal that shipped Jake Fox and Aaron Miles to Oakland this winter. He will miss the first 10-14 days of the season.
  • Tony Campana appears to be the Smokies leadoff man to start the year.
  • Several prospects dealing with position changes include Jovan Rosa (from third base to catcher/outfield) and Drew Rundle (outfielder to pitcher).
  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery and could break camp with Peoria according to the PJ Star.

Sources for Minor League Coaching Staff Series
www.baseball-reference.com/
www.chicagopressrelease.com

More About Brandon
If you have any questions or comments regarding my posts, feel free to email me at cubsblogmailbag@aol.com. All suggestions are welcome. Also, I write a blog where I post daily on the Chicago Cubs over at www.everythingcubs.blogspot.com. For more minor league updates you can follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/cubsfarmupdates.

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