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Cubs Minor League Roster Updates and Info from AzPhil

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Not sure everyone checks out AzPhil's stuff, and it's a very useful link. He has the updated rosters (as of the 31st) for each of our minor league squads. Some more guys will be cut, and some more guys will be downshifted, but there's very little chance of guys moving up at this point in time. It's interesting that, unlike last year, there aren't many aggressive moves. Last year, Jay Jackson/Casey Coleman/Brandon Guyer in AA and Dan McDaniel/Ryan Searle/Starlin Castro in A+ were certainly aggressive. Certainly this speaks to the system being in a stronger position overall than it was entering 2009. Case in point - AAA Iowa is largely made up of guys that have been in the system for a few years, if not their whole career. There aren't the outside veteran fillers that there have been in years past (for example, Hector Carrasco). Some general thoughts on how as thing stands: After all the hype from instructs, a bit disappointed to see Rafael Dolis in A+ as of now. That said, I wonder if this is the Jose Ceda plan and letting him start and work on his arsenal (great fastball that has hit 100, but still could use consistency on the breaking ball/changeup). Good to see Josh Vitters in Daytona. I had slowly started to convince myself that Tennessee wasn't a bad idea, but Daytona's the better spot for him. There's probably a solid chance that Raley and/or Rhee won't stick with Daytona once another period of downshifting occurs, but those would be semi-aggressive moves that should be followed if they do stick. Oh, he also had updates on Cubs minor league releases. The Grim Reaper tapped slick-fielding 21-year old Dominican SS Robert Bautista, 1B-C (ex-3B) John Contreras, 20-year old Dominican RHP Diego Encarnacion, 21-year old Venezuelan RHP Robert Hernandez (considered a fairly decent prospect a couple of years ago before a PED suspension sidetracked his career), 22-year old 5'8 Dutch 2B Dwayne Kemp, veteran AAA RHP Jeff Kennard (who got an NRI to big league camp but got cut early), RHRP Kevin Kreier (5-4 3.77 ERA at Peoria in 2009), RHP (ex-3B) Josh Lansford (son of ex-MLB 3B Carney Lansford), 21-year old Dominican RHP Dionis Nunez (3-3 2.84 ERA at Boise in 2009), 3B Jordan Petraitis (2009 28th round draft pick out of Miami of Ohio), Iowa Cubs RHP Gregory Reinhard (acquired from TB for RHP Jae-Kuk Ryu in 2007), 21-year old Venezuelan OF Kevin Soto, RHP Josh Whitlock (2008 26th round pick out of the U. of West Virginia), Australian OF Sean Williams, and RHP Hank Williamson (7-4 4.93 ERA with 87 K in 84 IP at Daytona in 2009, one of the two pitchers the Cubs got from Baltimore for Felix Pie prior to the 2009 season). The Cubs then re-signed John Contreras (who was converted to catcher a year ago) and it appears that he will be a player-coach with Peoria. The headliner of the group is Robert Hernandez, who was a fascinating arm with a good low 90's fastball and a plus change. He came on the radar as a 18 year old in Low A in 2007, with 103.2 solid innings. Nothing great, but considering age and potential, there was hope for more. Then, the offseason came and the PED suspension hit. He didn't have a bad 2008 in Peoria when he came back, but he didn't progress (and missing time obviously didn't help), and the Cubs kept him in XST/Boise for 2009, where he was good. An intriguing talent, but clearly the Cubs were bothered with him a bit, and while I'm disappointed, not a loss that I'll be pondering that long. Dwayne Kemp was an intriguing Mike Fontenot-esque-ish player, but was banged up a lot. Sean Williams and Kevin Soto were raw, toolsy OF talents, but I'm not going to lose sleep over their loss. Nunez was a mldly intriguing arm as was Kreier, but neither guy had great arms that would force a team to keep them around. Bautista could field, but he didn't have a bat. Lansford was a conversion from 3rd to the mound, but the reality is, while we've been accustomed to conversion guys sticking, they really should be exceptions. I know he had decent raw stuff, but considering age and future (pen arm at best), it isn't a big loss. Wilken drafted Jordan Petraitis twice. Admittedly, don't know that much off the top about Diego Encarnacion, but if he had the stuff, he would've stuck around considering age/level. We lose 3 decent (to varying degrees) pen arms in Hank Williamson, Jeff Kennard, and Greg Reinhard. It wouldn't surprise me if all three saw time in the bigs. Williamson is a bit disappointing, but at the end of the day, we had a logjam of pen arms in the upper levels and we were bound to lose some guys. We might lose a few more decent guys (we cut Vince Perkins about a week ago, another decent arm), but that's how things go when your system improves and gets better.

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