Cubs hire Henry Blanco as Quality Assurance Coach
Henry Blanco is back with the Cubs as the new quality assurance coach. Blanco replaces Juan Castro, who left the Cubs organization after one year to join the Braves as assistant hitting coach. The Cubs have filled their coaching staff under new manager Joe Maddon.
The former catcher with the North Siders (2005-08), Blanco played 208 games for the Cubs with a slash line of .255/.293/.387. He spent 16 years in the majors, breaking in with the Dodgers in 1997 and also played Colorado (1999), Milwaukee (2000-01), Atlanta (2002-03), Minnesota (2004), San Diego (2009), New York Mets (2010), Arizona (2011-12), Toronto (2013) and Seattle (2013). He was a coach and bullpen catcher for the Diamondbacks last season. Blanco played in 971 MLB games with 72 HR and a career .223 average. He was known for his defensive skills as he threw out 43 percent of base stealers during his career.
With a pile of young talented catchers in the Cubs minor league system, the addition of Blanco gives another voice and mentor to the young backstops. While the Cubs have added talent behind the plate in the minors, they’ve also established a strong infrastructure with Mike Borzello, the catching and strategy coach at the MLB level, as well as Tim Cossins, the Cubs minor league catching and field coordinator. While some Cub fans are disappointed Russell Martin didn’t sign, great progress is being made at minor league level when it comes to catching.
Hot Stove News
The Minnesota Twins have won the bidding process to negotiate with Korean left-hander Hyeon-Jong Yang, a 26-year-old who some project as a middle-of-the rotation starter. Scouting reports have the lefty with a 92-95 mph fastball to go along with a curve, slider and change. The Cubs were rumored to Yang but then again they’ve been linked to most free agents..........The Dodgers acquired RHP Mike Bollinger from Arizona for cash considerations.
Venezuelan Winter League
Willson Contreras’ fourth homer of the season gave Aragua a 2-0 lead but they ended up falling to Lara 13-3. Contreras (.300) also walked but committed two errors......Joseph Ortiz earned his 4th hold in La Guaria’s 6-4 win over Caracas but allowed his first runs (2) of the season on two hits in two-third of an inning. Yoanner Negrin got the start for Caracas and allowed two runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings and didn’t figure in the decision. It was Negrin’s first start since Oct. 25 (0-3, 5.40 ERA, 18.1 IP).
Dominican Winter League
Licey had a pair of Cubs in the starting lineup as CF Arismendy Alcantara (.286) had two singles and scored once while 2B Marco Hernandez (.235) went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in the 4-3 loss to Toros. Alberto Cabrera got the win for the Toros, tossing two scoreless frames with four punchouts........Junior Lake (.244) doubled, walked and fanned twice in Estrellas’ 3-1 win over Aguilas. Marcos Mateo picked up his league-leading 13th save with a scoreless ninth. Manny Ramirez (.287) was 1-4 in the loss.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
Christian Villanueva (.254) pinch hit in the 10th inning and was intentionally walked in the 2-1 win by Obregon in 10 over Los Mochis.
Puerto Rican Winter League
Both games were rained out.