After earning back-to-back Manager of the Year honors in the Midwest League and the Carolina League, Mark Johnson has been promoted to AA Tennessee for the 2016 season. Buddy Bailey, who spent the past four seasons leading the Smokies, will switch spots with Johnson in Myrtle Beach.
Johnson joins Tennessee after spending this offseason as the manager of the Arizona Fall League's Mesa Solar Sox and last year with Myrtle Beach. Johnson has spent past campaigns with Kane County (2013-14) and Boise (2011-12). Over the course of his five-year managerial career, Johnson has accumulated a 300-265 record and a .531 winning percentage.
The 40-year old played eight seasons in the Major Leagues as a catcher with the White Sox, A’s, Brewers and Cardinals. In 332 career games, Johnson tallied a .218 batting average with 16 HR and 83 RBI. The backstop retired following the 2010 campaign after spending two seasons in the Cubs' organization with AAA Iowa. Johnson was drafted by the White Sox in the first round (26th overall) of the 1994 draft out of Warner Robbins High School in Georgia.
If there’s any coach in the minors that’s being “developed” its Johnson. Already on the staff when Theo Epstein took over baseball operations, Johnson has worked his way from the short-season Northwest League to the Southern League. Johnson went right from the playing field to the dugout in 2011 with Boise and has been advancing towards the majors ever since. If you’re looking for homegrown talent to replace Joe Maddon down the road, Johnson may be the man.
In his sixth season with the Cubs organization, Johnson will be surrounded with new faces as first-year pitching coach Terry Clark joins the organization. Clark spent the last two seasons as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Seattle Mariners after serving as a pitching coach in the minors for the Indians (2000-2004), Rangers (2006-12) and Mariners (2013). Clark appeared in parts of six big league seasons with the Angels (1988-89), Astros (90 & 96), Braves (’95), Orioles (’95), Royals (‘96), Indians (‘97) and Rangers (’97), going 10-23 with one save and a 5.54 ERA (232.2 IP) in 91 games. He was a 23rd round pick of the Cardinals in 1979 out of Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California, the same school that produced Cubs scout and former big leaguer Keith Lockhart.
Desi Wilson starts his fourth year as the AA hitting coach and his ninth with the organization. Wilson played one year in the majors for San Francisco, hitting .271/.338/.677 in 41 games in 1996. Osmin Melendez joins as an assistant coach after serving in a similar role last season with South Bend. Jon Fierro, in his fifth year in the organization, is the team's athletic trainer and Mike Megrew enters his third season as the team's strength and conditioning coach.
Based on the coaching assignments, the Cubs will not be fielding a team in Venezuela after three seasons. Last year, only four teams competed in the league. The Cubs will have two teams in the Dominican instead.
Marty Peavy returns to Iowa and Jimmy Gonzalez is back at South Bend. Jesus Feliciano gets his first chance at the helm, taking over at Eugene for Gary Van Tol, who returns to the Emeralds staff as a bench coach. Pitching coach David Rosario heads back to low-A where he will work with the young arms of Justin Steele, Carson Sands, Oscar De La Cruz and Dylan Cease. Rosario spent the last two years with starters Duane Underwood, Jen-Ho Tseng, Paul Blackburn, Tyler Skulina, and Daury Torrez at Kane County and Myrtle Beach.
Other new faces in the minors include: Rod Nichols (Iowa-pitching coach), Jeremy Farrell (Mesa-hitting coach), Chris Valaika (Mesa-hitting coach), and Lance Rymel (Mesa-rehab coach).
Here’s a look at the rest of the 2016 field staff for the minors:
Marty Pevey begins his fourth season as Triple-A Iowa's manager after serving as Chicago's catching coordinator for three seasons from 2010-12. Pevey served as the Single-A Peoria manager in 2009, his first season with the organization. Pevey has a combined 32 years of professional experience (13 years as a player and 19 years as a manager, coach or coordinator), and was named the 2009 Midwest League co-Manager of the Year. Joining Pevey at Iowa will be newly hired pitching coach, Rod Nichols, who spent the last three years as the Philadelphia Phillies major league bullpen coach. The 2016 campaign will mark Nichols' 17th season as a coach. Originally selected by Cleveland in the fifth round of the 1985 draft, he appeared in seven big league seasons, going 11-31 with a 4.43 ERA (203 ER/412.2 IP) in 100 games (48 starts). Brian Harper returns for his fourth season as Iowa's hitting coach after managing AA Tennessee in 2011 and High A Daytona in 2012. A former catcher, Harper played 16 seasons in the majors with seven teams. Rounding out the coaching staff is former Cubs farmhand Leo Perez, who begins his eighth season as a coach in the organization and second with Iowa. Shane Nelson joins Iowa as the team's athletic trainer after handling the same duties in Tennessee the past two seasons. Sean Folan is the club's assistant athletic trainer after last year serving as Mesa's minor league rehab athletic trainer and strength coach while Ryan Clausen enters his third season as Iowa's strength and conditioning coach.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Buddy Bailey takes over as the manager of Myrtle Beach after spending the last four seasons as Tennessee's manager, going 290-266 (.521). Bailey spent three years as Daytona's skipper prior to joining the Smokies, and helped the team to the 2011 Florida State League Championship. Next season will mark Bailey's 28th year as a manager and his 11th with the organization. Handling pitching coach duties at Myrtle Beach will be Anderson Tavarez, who served as Eugene's pitching coach last season. Prior to joining Eugene, Tavarez spent two years with Mesa. Tavares played in the Cubs system from 2000-05 and worked as a pitching coach with the Cubs Dominican Summer League team from 2007-12. Mariano Duncan returns for his fourth season as the club's high-A hitting coach after serving the previous two campaigns as Tennessee's hitting coach (2011-12). The 12-year major league veteran (1985-87, 1989-97) joined the Cubs in 2011 after spending the previous five seasons (2006-10) as the Dodgers major league first base coach. Juan Cabreja is the team's assistant coach after serving as the Dominican Cubs manager in 2014-15. Toby Williams begins his third year as a trainer in the Cubs organization and his first with Myrtle Beach after serving as the trainer in Mesa last season. Jason Morriss enters his fourth season in the organization, second with Myrtle Beach, as a strength and conditioning coach.
South Bend Cubs
Jimmy Gonzalez begins his third season as a manager in the organization, his second with South Bend. Gonzalez made his managerial debut in 2014 with Rookie-League Mesa after serving as hitting coach with the club in 2013. A former catcher, he played 14 minor league seasons after he was selected in the first round of the 1991 Draft by Houston. Handling pitching coach duties at South Bend will be David Rosario, who begins his 12th year in the Cubs system. Rosario served in the same role with Myrtle Beach last season. Guillermo Martinez begins his third season as a coach in Chicago's organization and first as a hitting coach with South Bend. He spent last season as a coach with Double-A Tennessee. Ricardo Medina joins South Bend as the team's assistant coach and has been with the Cubs organization since 1999 as a coach, manager or scout. Mike McNulty joins South Bend as the team's athletic trainer after serving in the same role last season with Eugene. Ed Kohl enters his sixth year in the organization and his second as South Bend's strength and conditioning coach.
Jesus Feliciano begins his third season as a coach in Chicago's organization and his first as a manager with Eugene after spending last season as South Bend's hitting coach. He enjoyed a 16-year playing career from 1998-2013, including action in 54 games with the Mets in 2010. Joining the staff at Eugene will be pitching coach, Brian Lawrence, who enters his first season as Eugene's pitching coach after serving in the same role with South Bend in 2015. Lawrence made his coaching debut in 2012 in the Independent Frontier League and spent 2013 as the pitching coach of Single-A Lake Elsinore in the Padres system. The former right-hander went 50-63 with a 4.19 ERA during a six-year big league career with the Padres and Mets. Ty Wright, who spent seven years as an outfielder in the Cubs minor league system, is the team's hitting coach after serving as a coach with Mesa last year. Gary Van Tol will serve as a coach after spending the last three seasons as Eugene's manager. Logan Severson begins his first season as the athletic trainer in Mesa after interning with Triple-A Iowa in 2012. Ryan Nordtvedt enters his fourth season in the organization and his second as Eugene's strength and conditioning coach.
Carmelo Martinez enters his 19th season in the organization, and begins his second-straight season as manager with Mesa after serving in the role from 1999-2003, and again in 2006. Martinez previously served as the Cubs Latin America field coordinator for six seasons and played in the majors from 1983-91 with the Cubs, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Royals and Reds. Ron Villone begins his fifth season as a coach in the Cubs organization and second with Mesa. A former left-handed pitcher, he played in all or part of 15 major league seasons from 1995-2009 with 12 teams. Jeremy Farrell and Chris Valaika are the team's hitting coaches. Farrell, the son of Red Sox manager John Farrell, begins his first season as a coach after a seven-year minor league career. Valaika, who played in 99 major league games with the Reds (2010-11), Marlins (2013) and Cubs (2014), begins his first year as a coach in the organization. Lance Rymel, a former catcher selected by the Cubs in the 28th round in2012, is in his first season as Mesa's rehab coach.
Dominican Cubs I
Claudio Almonte is the manager of the Cubs first of two Dominican League teams after serving as the team's hitting coach the previous two seasons. Eduardo Villacis is the team's pitching coach after serving in the same role with the Venezuela League team last year. Jose Cueto, who spent four seasons in the Cubs farm system from 1999-2001 and 2004, joins the organization as the team's assistant pitching coach. Carlos Ramirez joins the organization as the team's hitting coach while Antonio Valerio and Jovanny Rosario will serve as assistant coaches. Jose Alvarez begins his third season as the club's athletic trainer, and Tomas Sanchez enters his third season as the team's strength coach. Sanchez will be joined by Amaury Gonzalez, who joins the organization as a strength coach.
Dominican Cubs II
Pedro Gonzalez is in his first year at the helm of the second Dominican League club after managing the Venezuela Cubs the previous two campaigns. Armando Gabino enters his second season as a pitching coach in the organization after a playing career that saw him pitch in seven games over two seasons with the Twins and Orioles. Franklin Blanco will be the club's hitting coach and is in his 10th season with the organization. Carlos Rojas joins the organization as an assistant coach following a 10-year minor league career as an infielder from 2003-12, including 2003-07 in the Cubs farm system. Arnoldo Goite enters his third year in the organization and his first as an athletic trainer for the Dominican club. Manny Estrada begins his second year as strength and conditioning coach.