CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today announced the club has invited 19 non-roster players to Major League Spring Training, which begins Wednesday, February 17 when pitchers and catchers are invited to report in Mesa, Ariz. Their first workout will take place on Thursday, February 18. Position players report to camp Monday, February 22 with the team’s first full workout Tuesday, February 23.
Overall, 12 of the 19 invitees are homegrown players either drafted or originally signed by the Cubs. Additionally, each of the club’s last four first-round draft picks will be in camp: outfielder Tyler Colvin (2006, now on the club’s 40-man roster), infielder Josh Vitters (2007), righthander Andrew Cashner (2008) and outfielder Brett Jackson (2009).
Seven pitchers – lefthanders J.R. Mathes and James Russell and righthanders Cashner, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, Jeff Kennard and Vince Perkins – have been invited to major league camp, as well as catchers Robinson Chirinos, Steve Clevenger, Blake Lalli and Chris Robinson. Infielders Darwin Barney, Matt Camp, Starlin Castro, Bryan LaHair, Bobby Scales and Vitters have also been invited, along with outfielders Jackson and Brad Snyder.
Darwin Barney, 24, begins his fourth pro season after hitting .293 (136-for-464) with 24 doubles and 49 RBI in 137 games with Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2009. A right-handed hitter and fielder, he was selected by Chicago in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft after helping Oregon State University to the 2006 and 2007 College World Series titles.
Matt Camp, 25, was converted from an infielder to an outfielder prior to last season. Camp spent a majority of 2009 with Triple-A Iowa, batting .282 (98-for-348) with 13 doubles, one triple, two homers and 44 RBI in 99 contests. He opened the season with Double-A Tennessee, owning a .298 (14-for-47) average in 14 games before his promotion. This marks the left-handed hitter’s fifth season in the Cubs organization after being selected by Chicago in the 13th round of 2006 Draft.
Andrew Cashner, 23, was selected by the Cubs in the first round (19th overall) of the 2008 Draft. The righthander went 3-4 with a 2.60 ERA (29 ER/100.1 IP) between Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last year, surrendering just one home run in 100.1 innings of work. In five June contests in 2009, the TCU product owned a monthly-best 0.93 ERA (2 ER/19.1 IP) with 14 strikeouts, holding the opponent scoreless in four of those five contests. Cashner is ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs’ Number Four prospect entering 2010
Starlin Castro, 19, was signed by the Cubs prior to the 2007 season and begins his fourth year in the organization. He batted a combined .299 (140-for-469) with three homers and 49 RBI in 127 games between Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. The right-handed hitter was named to the 2009 All-Star Futures Game for the World Team, going 1-for-1 with a run scored in the World’s 7-5 victory over the USA. He hit .376 (38-for-101) with 10 RBI in 26 games with the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. Castro is ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs’ top prospect entering 2010.
Robinson Chirinos, 25, who begins his 10th season in the Cubs organization, was converted from an infielder to a catcher prior to the 2009 campaign. Chirinos set numerous career highs in his first season as a catcher, batting .294 (77-for-262) with 11 homers and 52 RBI in 81 games between Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. The right-handed batter and fielder was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cubs July 2, 2000 at the age of 16.
Steve Clevenger, 23, batted .290 (89-for-307) between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, collecting 16 doubles and 36 RBI in 94 games. The left-handed batter has hit .286 or better in each of his first four pro campaigns since he was selected by the Cubs in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft.
Casey Coleman, 22, went 14-6 with a 3.68 ERA (61 ER/149.0 IP) in 27 starts with Double-A Tennessee en route to the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2009. The righthander surrendered two or fewer walks in 18 of his starts last season, while tossing 6.0 or more innings 13 times. He is entering his third pro season after being selected by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2008 Draft.
Thomas Diamond, 26, joined the Cubs September 4, 2009 when he was claimed off waivers from Texas. The righty combined to go 2-3 with one save and a 4.20 ERA (26 ER/55.2 IP) in 38 games (one start) between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma City. In 117 career minor league games (77 starts) in the Rangers’ system, Diamond is 31-17 with two saves and a 4.01 ERA (194 ER/435.0 IP), striking out 487 batters while walking just 241. He was selected by Texas in the first round (10th overall) of the 2004 draft.
Brett Jackson, 21, compiled a .318 batting average (67-for-211) with six doubles, three triples, eight homers and 36 RBI in 53 games between Rookie-League Mesa, Single-A Boise and Single-A Peoria in 2009. Selected by the Cubs in the first round (31st overall) of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Jackson batted .303 (146-for-481) with 91 runs scored, 25 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs and 85 RBI in 152 career games with the University of California-Berkeley. Jackson is ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs’ Number Two prospect entering 2010.
Jeff Kennard, 28, spent the 2009 season with Triple-A Louisville in the Reds’ system, going 3-1 with two saves and a 2.83 ERA (17 ER/54.0 IP) in 40 games before signing a minor league deal with Chicago this offseason. Kennard has appeared in 338 minor league games, all but one in relief, within the Yankees (2001-07), Angels (2007-08) and Reds (2009) organizations. The righty attended Rend Lake Community College in Ina, Illinois.
Bryan LaHair, 27, spent his entire career in Seattle’s organization before signing with the Cubs this offseason, making his major league debut in 2008. In 2009, Bryan batted .289 (132-for-457) in 121 games with Triple-A Tacoma, while setting a career high with 26 home runs. In 45 major league games, the left-handed hitter is 34-for-136 (.250) with four doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. LaHair owns a .287 batting average (789-for-2746) with 194 doubles, seven triples, 96 home runs and 461 RBI in 716 career minor league games.
Blake Lalli, 26, was named to the Southern League post-season All-Star team after finishing 2009 with a .314 batting average (117-for-373), five home runs and 52 RBI in a career-high 118 games for Double-A Tennessee. Signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in May of 2006, Lalli boasts a .304 batting average (339-for-1115), 79 doubles, 20 homers and 159 RBI in 332 career minor league contests.
J.R. Mathes, 28, earned Pitcher of the Year honors for Triple-A Iowa, going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA (52 ER/129.1 IP) in 26 games (21 starts) last season. The lefty ranked ninth in the Pacific Coast League in ERA. This marks his seventh season with the club after being selected by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2004 Draft. He is 56-37 with a 4.20 ERA (361 ER/773.0 IP) in 146 career minor league games (129 starts).
Vince Perkins, 28, owns a 33-33 mark with six saves and a 3.69 ERA (238 ER/581.0 IP) in 182 career minor league appearances (89 starts) spanning eight seasons. The righthander combined to go 7-2 with five saves and a 3.02 ERA (29 ER/86.1 IP) in 53 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2009. Perkins, who was signed by the Cubs as a minor league free agent prior to the 2009 season, was a member of Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009 and has spent time with the Blue Jays (2001-06), Brewers (2006-07), White Sox (2007-08) and Cubs organizations.
Chris Robinson, 25, earned Iowa’s Most Valuable Player honors after hitting .326 (101-for-310) with 37 runs scored, 22 doubles, three triples, two homers and 48 RBI in 91 games for the I-Cubs last season. The 2009 Pacific Coast League All-Star attended the University of Illinois, played for Team Canada in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 and was acquired by the Cubs from the Detroit Tigers August 20, 2006 for INF Neifi Perez.
James Russell, 24, was selected by the Cubs in the 14th round of the 2007 Draft. The southpaw combined to go 5-6 with a 4.03 ERA (46 ER/102.2 IP) in 37 games (12 starts) with Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2009. He is 11-16 with a 4.63 ERA (123 ER/239.0 IP) in 66 career minor league games (40 starts) and his father, Jeff Russell, pitched for five teams during a 14-year major league career.
Bobby Scales, 32, made his major league debut with Chicago in 2009 following 11 seasons and more than 1,000 career minor league contests. He appeared in 51 games for the Cubs last season and hit .500 (7-for-14) with two homers and five RBI as a pinch-hitter. A switch-hitter and right-handed fielder, he begins his 12th pro season after he was originally selected by San Diego in the 14th round of the 1999 Draft.
Brad Snyder, 27, batted .278 (66-for-237) with 16 doubles, three triples, 14 homers and 44 RBI with Triple-A Iowa in his first season in the Cubs organization, but was limited to just 69 games due to a sprained left wrist. The left-handed hitter and fielder began his career with Cleveland after he was selected in the first round (18th overall) of the 2003 Draft out of Ball State University.