The Iowa Cubs have released their 2009 Opening Day roster. The roster includes top pitching prospect, Jeff Samardzija.
The 2009 roster also features nine players from Chicago's 40-man roster and 15 returning players from last season.
Among the returners is Chicago Cubs' 2008 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Mitch Atkins, who led the farm system with 17 wins and 132 strikeouts last season. Atkins is tabbed to get the Opening Day start for Iowa on Thursday at Round Rock. Jose Ascanio, who led Iowa with 11 saves in 2008, Esmailin Caridad, Samardzija, and Randy Wells will join Atkins in the starting rotation.
The Iowa bullpen will consist of right-handers Justin Berg, Jesse Estrada, Chad Fox, Kevin Hart, Greg Reinhard and Jeff Stevens. Iowa's 2008 Pacific Coast League All-Star, J.R. Mathes, and Jason Waddell will be the lefties out of the bullpen.
Handling catching duties for the Cubs will be veteran Mark Johnson, who hit .266 with Iowa in 2005, and Chris Robinson.
The versatile infield includes Andres Blanco, 2008 Southern League Player of the Month for August 2008, Jake Fox, Matt Matulia, Luis Rivas, Nate Spears and Bobby Scales, who set career marks with 15 homers, a .320 average, and 94 runs in 2008.
Sam Fuld will be joined by Doug Deeds, Jason Dubois, Brad Snyder and So Taguchi in the outfield.
Manager Bobby Dickerson enters his first season as the I-Cubs skipper, while hitting coach Von Joshua returns for his fourth season and Mike Mason begins his second season as Iowa's pitching coach. Trainer Matt Johnson begins his second season in Des Moines.
The Cubs open the 2009 season Thursday, April 9 at Round Rock.
--Iowa Cubs Media Relations
CLASS AA TENNESSEE
This year's 25-man Smokies roster will take on a whole new look, as two-thirds of the players (17) arriving to East Tennessee will call Smokies Park "home" for the first time.
Headlining this year's roster is catcher Welington Castillo, rated the #5 Cubs prospect in Baseball America. A 2008 Futures Game participant and 2008 Florida State League Mid-Year All-Star, Castillo hit .298 with 25 runs and 24 RBIs in 57 games for Tennessee last year after being called up. Steve Clevenger, who also spent time with the Smokies last season, will join him behind the plate.
The 2009 crop of infielders looks to be strong as newcomers Darwin Barney, Tony Thomas and Jonathan Mota join returnees Matt Camp, Blake Lalli and Kyle Reynolds. Barney, Thomas and Mota all played together on the Florida State League title-winning Daytona Cubs (High-A) last season. Camp and Lalli move to the infield dirt from previous spots on the 2008 Smokies roster as outfielder and catcher, respectively.
The team's lineup in the outfield will look completely different than during any time in 2008, with newcomers Jim Adduci, Brandon Guyer, Richie Robnett and Ty Wright coming on-board. Adduci and Wright are making the jump to Tennessee from Daytona, while Guyer comes from the Peoria Chiefs (Low-A). Chicago acquired Robnett in the Michael Wuertz trade this past February.
On the mound, returnees Casey Lambert, Alex Maestri and James Russell will team up with Jay Jackson, rated the #9 Cubs prospect by Baseball America. Other newcomers to Smokies Park include Todd Blackford, Hung-Wen Chen, Casey Coleman, John Gaub, Jeremy Papelbon, Blake Parker, Vince Perkins, Jayson Ruhlman, and Brian Schlitter. Every newcomer except for Gaub and Perkins moved up from Daytona; Gaub was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade last December, and Perkins from the Joliet Jackhammers (Northern League).
The Smokies kick off their 2009 season this Thursday, April 9, in Jacksonville against the Jacksonville Suns.
--Rennie Leon, Tennessee Smokies
CLASS HIGH-A DAYTONA
The Daytona Cubs 2009 roster includes six top ten draft picks including the Cubs first round selection in the 2006 draft, Tyler Colvin. Of the 25-man roster, seven players return from last year's championship team. Marcos Mateo, who made the 40-man roster, returns to Daytona after holding right handed hitters to a .208 average last year. Mark Reed was an All-Star and batted .256 in 48 games. Drew Rundle, who arrived late to Daytona, led the entire Northwest league in slugging percentage with a .563 mark. Russ Canzler was second on the team in home runs with 12 and RBI with 59.
Colvin led the Southern league in triples, was first on the Tennessee Smokies with 80 RBI and finished second with 14 home runs. Starlin Castro, rated the seventh best prospect in the Cubs organization by Baseball America, batted .311 last year in Mesa. Jovan Rosa led the Midwest League and the entire Cubs organization with 43 doubles in 2008. Marwin Gonzalez led the Boise Cubs with 43 RBI.
Buddy Bailey returns to Daytona after managing the Tennessee Smokies in 2008. This is Bailey's second stint with the Daytona Cubs and his fourth year in the Cubs organization. Bailey managed the Venezuelan National team to a Caribbean World Series title this past winter.
Bailey is joined by hitting coach Richie Zisk, pitching coach Tom Pratt and trainer Bob Grimes. A former Major League All-Star, Zisk returns to Daytona for his thirteenth straight season. Zisk has been involved in the Cubs organization for all but two seasons since 1987. Tom Pratt returns as the Cubs pitching coach and is in his 10th year with the organization. Bob Grimes returns for a second straight season in Daytona and this year will mark his 25th in the organization.
The Daytona Cubs will open their season against the Brevard County Manatees at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday, April 9th at 7:05 p.m.
--Mike Silverman, Daytona Cubs
Headlining for the Chiefs this year are Cubs top overall prospect Josh Vitters, 2008 2nd round pick Aaron Shafer, Cubs #8 prospect Ryan Flaherty, and hurlers Chris Huseby and Chris Archer. Rebel Ridling, Luis Flores and Josh Harrison highlight the returning Chief players from 2008. The 2009 roster includes 11 players who played in at least one game with the Chiefs last season.
Among the infielders, Rebel Ridling will play first base while Josh Harrison and Junior Lake will split time at second. Ryan Flaherty will be the shortstop with Josh Vitters at third base. David Macias rounds out the infield as a utility player.
The 2009 outfield includes Cliff Andersen, Kyler Burke, Tony Campana and Nelson Perez. Both Ridling and Harrison could also see time in the outfield as they did for the Chiefs last season.
The opening day roster contains two catchers who were with the Chiefs last season: Luis Flores and Mario Mercedes.
The 2009 Opening Day roster consists of 13 pitchers: Chris Archer, Jeff Beliveau, Ryan Buchter, Alberto Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Erik Hamren, Marcus Hatley, Chris Huseby, Kevin Kreier, Mike Perconte, Jose Pina, Aaron Shafer and Josh Whitlock.
The season opener is Thursday April 9 at 6:30 pm at home against the Kane County Cougars.
--Nathan Baliva, Peoria Chiefs