The Cubs announced the coaching staff for the upcoming 2016 season for the top four levels of the minor leagues today, and the faces of 2016 will look a lot like the faces of 2015. In fact, all four managers from 2015 will return in 2016, although two of them will be changing places.
Starting off with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, Marty Pevey returns for his fourth season at the helm in Des Moines. He'll be joined by returning hitting coach Brian Harper and assistant hitting coach Leo Perez. Ryan Clausen will return as the strength and conditioning coach and will now have a new assistant strength and conditioning coach, Sean Folan. Folan worked in the Cubs complex in Mesa last season.
The new faces at Iowa is new pitching coach Rod Nichols, who joins the team from the Phillies, where he served as the major league bullpen coach last season. Also new to Iowa is trainer Shane Nelson, but he has been a trainer in the Cubs system for six seasons now.
The Double-A Tennessee Smokies have a new manager as Mark Johnson, who guided the Kane County Cougars and Daytona Beach Pelicans to league titles the past two seasons, moves up one level to stay with the same "class," so to speak. The new pitching coach is Terry Clark, who had served the past two seasons as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Mariners. Prior to that, he had spent 13 years as a minor league pitching coach.
Hitting coach Desi Wilson returns to the Smokies from last season. Osmin Melendez is the new Smokies assistant coach after serving in a similar position for the South Bend Cubs last season. Jon Fierro is the athletic trainer, also joining the Smokies from South Bend. Mike Megrew returns to Tennessee as the strength and conditioning coach.
You may have guesses with Johnson moving up to Double-A that last season's Smokies manager, minor league veteran Buddy Bailey, moves over to the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Bailey has been managing in the minors since 1983 and has a career managing record of 1936-1830. With a good season by the Pelicans, Bailey could win his 2000th game as a manager this season.
Anderson Tavarez is the new Pelicans pitching coach after serving as the Eugene Emeralds pitching coach last season. Mariano Duncan returns to Myrtle Beach for another season as their hitting coach. Juan Cabreja is the assistant coach after serving as the manager of the Cubs team in the Dominican Summer League.
Jason Morris will work his second season as the Pelicans strength and conditioning coach and while athletic trainer Toby Williams joins the club after being the trainer in Mesa last season.
In addition, the Pelicans made more news by announcing their new broadcaster for 2016 and it's Scott Kornberg, who worked the broadcasts for the Winston-Salem Dash last season and calls football and basketball for Western Illinois. Former Pelicans broadcaster Nathan Barnett got promoted to Double-A Frisco (yes, I know it doesn't work like that, but the Pelicans and Frisco affiliates are owned by the same investment group, so it does work like that in this case) and Kornberg has some big shoes to fill. But we're sure that he'll put forth just as much effort as Barnett did and that he'll be as good a friend to Cubs fans as Barnett was.
Finally, the South Bend Cubs announced their coaching staff for 2016 and manager Jimmy Gonzalez lead the Indiana nine for a second-straight season. David Rosario will be the South Bend pitching coach after holding the same job for the Carolina League champion Pelicans last season. Guillermo Martinez is the hitting coach after serving as a coach for the Smokies last season. Ricardo Medina has been in the Cubs organization in various roles since 1999 and will be the new assistant coach this season.
Athletic trainer Mike McNulty and strength and conditioning coach Ed Kohl return to South Bend from last season.
I have not received word on the coaches for Eugene or Mesa yet. I'll let you know when I do.
If that sounds like a lot of coaches, it is, and the Ricketts family ownership has greatly expanded the number of personnel in the minor leagues over what it was under the Tribune. We've seen the payoff in recent years and it looks like a pretty sound investment at this point. Here's to another successful year in 2016.