The roster includes seven infielders with Arismendy Alcantara, Pierre LePage and Elliot Soto up the middle and Greg Rohan and Richard Jones on the corners. Anthony Giansanti who was in the Chiefs outfield last August has made the conversion to the infield and will see time at third base as well. Jones and Rohan also played both the infield and outfield last season and could see time in both places.
Alcantara is a 19-year old native of the Dominican Republic who hit .283 last season in 59 games for the Northwest League's Boise Hawks. He led the NWL in triples with six and also collected seven stolen bases, 24 RBI and scored 29 runs.
Giansanti hit .296 for the Chiefs last season in 30 games from August 1 to the end of the season. He had 10 doubles, 13 RBI and nine runs scored while also hitting .337 with 17 runs scored in 27 games for Mesa. Giansanti was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Siena College in June, 2010.
Jones started the 2010 season with the Chiefs and hit .216 with two homers, eight doubles and 17 RBI in 37 games. He then played in 68 games for Boise hitting .287 with five homers, 16 doubles and 42 RBI. The 22-year-old was drafted in the ninth round in 2009 out of the Citadel where he hit .379 with 17 homers and 69 RBI.
LePage played second base for both Mesa and Boise last season hitting .345 with one homer, 20 doubles, four triples, 38 RBI and 39 runs scored. He was with Mesa for just two games before earning Northwest League Post-Season All-Star status with Boise. The 22-year-old was a 13th round pick by the Cubs in 2010 out of the University of Connecticut.
Rohan was also on the Chiefs Opening Day roster last season hitting .298 with 17 doubles, five homers and 53 RBI in 75 games. After a July promotion to Daytona he hit .250 with 15 RBI and eight doubles in 41 games. A 24-year-old native of Ohio, Rohan was drafted in the 21st round in 2009 out of Kent State University where he hit .349 with 15 homers and 63 RBI.
Soto, 21, p layed at three different levels last season after being a 15th round draft choice in June. In three games with the Chiefs in early July he was 1-for-9 and he wernt 6-for-16 in four games with Mesa. Soto finished the season hitting .271 with 10 doubles, a triple, 21 RBI, 24 runs scored and five stolen bases in 48 games with the Boise Hawks. Soto is from the Chicago area (Algonquin, IL) and was recruited to Creighton University out of Dundee Crown High School in Carpentersville, IL.
The 2010 outfield includes two returnees in Matt Szczur, and DJ Fitzgerald. The other outfielders on the Opening Day roster are Cuban-born Rubi Silva who signed with the Cubs in December and Smaily Borges who will be a player-coach.
Borges, who played outfield for Daytona last season, will be a player/coach on the Chiefs roster, a first in franchise history on an Opening Day roster. Borges, a Cuban-born Dominican resident, hit .227 in 74 games for Daytona last season and he is 27 years old.
Fitzgerald, 22, hit .283 in 99 games for the Chiefs last season with six homers, 30 extra-base hits, 46 RBI and 56 runs scored. He also played in 19 games for the Chiefs in 2009 after being drafted in the 22nd round out of Dyersburg State CC in Tennessee.
Silva is a newcomer to the Cubs organization after defecting from Cuba and signing with Chicago in December. The 20-year-old outfielder played for the Cuban Junior National Team and in 2008-0 hit .276 with 10 triples and four homers for La Habana in Cuba's Serie Nacional.
Szczur played for the Chiefs briefly last August before returning to Villanova University to help the Wildcats in their attempt to defend a football National Championship in the FCS. In 25 games with Boise, Mesa and Peoria last year, Szczur hit .347 with 10 doubles, 10 RBI and 24 runs scored. A 21-year-old New Jersey native, Szczur was drafted in the fifth round last June and Baseball America ranks him as the Cubs #7 prospect.
The opening day roster contains two catchers: Sergio Burruel and Micah Gibbs.
Burruel hit .273 last season with the Mesa Cubs in 25 games with two doubles, a triple, a home run and 14 RBI. A 19 year old who was drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 draft, Burruel was born in Mexico but went to high school in Phoenix, AZ at Trevor G. Browne High School.
Gibbs hit .203 last season in 42 games for Boise with 13 RBI and seven doubles after also playing one game for Mesa. The 22-year-old Texas native won a National Championship at Louisiana State University in 2009 and won a Gold Medal with Team USA in the 2008 World Championships. He was the 97th overall selection in the 2010 draft as the Cubs took Gibbs in the third round.
The 2010 Opening Day roster consists of 14 pitchers: Jeff Antigua, Dallas Beeler, Eduardo Figueroa, Yohan Gonzalez, Cam Greathouse, Marcus Hatley, Graham Hicks, Eric Jokisch, Austin Kirk, Robinson Lopez, Juan Serrano, Bryce Shafer and Hayden Simpson.
Antigua was on the Chiefs 2010 Opening Day roster and he was 4-5 with a 4.16 ERA in 21 games, 17 starts last seasons. An arm injury in August ended his season early with 88 strikeouts and 33 walks in 93 innings. Antigua, 20, signed with the Cubs in 2006 out of the Dominican Republic and went 4-0 for the Chiefs in the last month of the 2009 season.
Beeler made nine appearances and two starts with both Mesa and Boise last season as he bounced back from Tommy John surgery. In those outings he was 0-3 with a 2.95 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. Beeler, 21, was drafted in the 41st round of the 2010 draft out of Oral Roberts University after also pitching at Seminole State College.
Figueroa, 22, split the 2010 season between Mesa and Boise going 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 14 games and six starts. A native of Venezuela he signed with the Cubs in May 2007.
Gonzalez was one of the Chiefs most reliable pitchers in 2010 going 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA and four saves in 36 relief outings. He struck out 40 and walked just 16 in 56 innings while posting the lowest ERA for any pitcher with at least 50 innings of work. A 21-year-old Dominican native, Gonzalez signed with the Cubs in June, 2007.
Greathouse made seven starts for Boise last season going 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA while also going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three outings for Mesa. Overall he struck out 50 and walked 11 in 44 1/3 innings in his pro debut. An eighth round pick out of Gulf Coast (FL) Community College, the 20-year-old Georgia native originally signed with the University of South Carolina.
Hatley returns to Peoria for the third time as he continues to bounce back from Tommy John surgery that ended his 2009 Chiefs season. Last year Hatley was limited to three innings per outing in his first year after surgery and he was 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA in seven Peoria outings. In 2009 the 23-year-old was 6-6 with a 4.64 ERA for the Chiefs. Hatley was drafted out of Palomar (CA) Community College in the 39th round of the 2006 draft.
Hicks, 21, is new to the Cubs organization after pitching the last three seasons as a member of the Washington Nationals system. He was acquired with two other minor league players in exchange for LHP Tom Gorzelanny in January after going 2-6 with a 5.65 ERA in 16 starts split between Short-Season Vermont and Class-A Hagerstown. A native of Lakeland, FL, Hicks was drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2008 draft.
Jokisch is the only Central Illinois native on the Opening Day roster having attended both Virginia High School and Northwestern University. The 21-year-old was 2-3 with a 7.08 ERA in 14 games for Boise last year. He was a First-Team All-Big Ten pitcher for NU in 2010 and he pitched for Virginia/AC Central High School, 71 miles southwest of O'Brien Field. An 11th round pick in 2010, Jokisch is the first Central Illinois resident to be on the Chiefs Opening Day roster since Jordan Pals and Brandon DeJaynes in 2004.
Kirk finished the 2010 season with the Chiefs going 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in three outings while striking out 17 batters in just 12 2/3 innings. He was 4-5 with a 3.31 ERA last season in 12 games with Boise including 10 starts. Kirk, 20, is a native of Oklahoma where he was a star at Owasso High School before the Cubs drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft.
Lopez finished the 2010 season with the Chiefs going1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in four outings. He spent most of the season with the Rome Braves going 3-8 with a 4.37 ERA in 16 starts and 24 outings. Lopez, 20, was acquired from the Braves along with two others in exchange for Derrek Lee last August.
Serrano went 5-4 with a 5.48 ERA in 15 appearances for Boise last season while also going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA for Mesa. The 23-year-old was born in Cuba but now calls the Dominican Republic home. He signed with the Cubs in March 2010 after guiding Cuba to the Pan American Junior Championship Gold Medal.
Shafer spent 2010 with Mesa going 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA and a save in six outings. He was the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year at Valparaiso University in 2010 before being chosen by the Cubs in the 49th round of last June's draft.
Simpson is the #8 prospect in the Cubs system according to Baseball American despite the fact that a bout of mononucleosis kept him from throwing a pitch last season or in Instructional League. A 21-year-old Arkansas native Simpson was the Cubs first round selection last June (16th overall) out of Southern Arkansas University where he went 13-1 with a 1.81 ERA.
Overall the 25-man roster includes two 19-year-olds, four 20-year-olds, eight 21-year-olds, six 22-year-olds, three 23-year-olds, and one 24-year-old. Alcantara is the youngest played on the roster as he won't turn 20 until the end of October while Borges, who turned 27 in January, is the oldest. The roster features 17 Americans, four Dominican natives, one Venezuelan, and three Cuban born players in Borges, Serrano and Silva who now live in the Dominican Republic. Burruel, who went to high school in Phoenix, Arizona, was born in Mexico.
The Chiefs will be managed by Casey Kopitzke who led Peoria to a 71-66 record last season. Under Kopitzke's leadership the Chiefs the Chiefs came within two games of making the playoffs in the first half and overall finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the Western Division with 71 wins. Overall this will be Kopitzke's third year as a manager in the Cubs system and he is joined by hitting coach Ricardo Medina and pitching coach Jeff Fassero. Medina played for the Chiefs in the early 1990s and also served as the hitting coach in 2005. Fassero is a native of Springfield, IL and is in his second year with the Cubs after serving in the same capacity with Boise last season. The Chiefs athletic trainer is Morris, IL native AJ Larson while Blaine Kinsley is the strength and conditioning coach.
The Chiefs players and their coaches will arrive in Peoria Monday night April 4 and will practice at O'Brien Field Tuesday April 5 at 10:00 a.m. The Chiefs will practice again on Wednesday with the regular season starting Thursday, April 7 at home against Cedar Rapids at 6:30 p.m. The first 1,500 fans through the gates will receive a 2011 Chiefs magnetic schedule courtesy of Trouble Free Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. Opening Night also marks the return of Thirsty Thursday's as fans can get $2.00 16 oz domestic draft beers and $2.00 regular fountain sodas. Opening Night's Thirsty Thursday is presented by Bud Light and Brewer's Distributing with pre and post-game parties at Kelleher's Irish Pub & Eatery. For ticket information please call the O'Brien Field Box Office at 1-866-MYTICKET or visit www.peoriachiefs.com.