SEVIERVILLE - On Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced their minor league coaching staff assignments for the 2017 season. The Smokies will be welcoming back three returning coaches including manager Mark Johnson, pitching coach Terry Clark, and strength coach Mike Megrew. The Smokies have three coaches who will be making their debut with the Smokies in 2017. Jacob Cruz will assume the role of hitting Coach, Ricardo Medina will take over as a coach, and Mike McNulty joins the Smokies as the trainer.
Johnson will be entering his second season as manager of the Smokies in 2017, and his seventh season in the Cubs' organization. Prior to Johnson's debut with the Smokies in 2016 he was able to lead the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to the Carolina League Championship in 2015 as well as Kane County to the Midwest League Title in 2014. Johnson will be looking to repeat this success for 2017 seen at Myrtle Beach and Kane County by improving on the Smokies' 2016 record of 58-81.
Johnson spent eight seasons in the Major Leagues as a catcher with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. In 332 career games, Johnson tallied a .218 batting average with 16 home runs and 83 runs batted in. The catcher retired following the 2010 campaign after spending two seasons in the Cubs' organization with Triple-A Iowa. Johnson was drafted by the White Sox in the first round (26th overall) of the 1994 Draft out of Warner Robbins High School in Georgia.
2017 will also mark the second season at the Smokies for Pitching Coach Terry Clark. Prior to joining the Cubs' organization last year, he had spent the previous two seasons as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Seattle Mariners. Prior to his time with the Mariners, Clark spent 13 seasons as a minor league pitching coach with the Jackson Generals (2013), Round Rock Express (2011-12), Oklahoma City RedHawks (2009-10), Frisco RoughRiders (2005-08), Buffalo Bisons (2003-04), Akron Aeros (2001-02) and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (2000).
Clark spent parts of six seasons in the Majors as a right-handed pitcher with the California Angels, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers. In 91 career appearances (27 starts), the California native posted a 10-23 record with a 5.54 earned run average and 109 strikeouts. Clark was drafted by the Cardinals in the 23rd round of the 1979 Draft out of Mount San Antonio College in California.
Mike Megrew joins Clark and Johnson as one of the three personnel on the coaching staff making their return to the Smokies. Megrew will assume the role of the strength coach, and will be entering his fourth season in Kodak and fifth season in the Cubs' organization. Megrew spent seven seasons (2002-08) in the Dodgers, Marlins, and Padres farm systems as a left handed pitcher.
"We are excited to have Mark Johnson, Terry Clark, and Mike Megrew returning to the Smokies for the 2017 season," Stated President and COO Chris Allen. "They are all exceptional coaches we believe their work ethic can lead the Smokies in the right direction. We are also very pleased to welcome the newcomers to the team, as we will show them what Tennessee hospitality is all about."
Jacob Cruz will be making his debut with the Smokies and the Cubs' organization as a whole in 2017 as the hitting coach. Cruz has spent the last six seasons as a hitting coach in the Arizona's farm system, and most recently at the Arizona League Diamondbacks (2015-16). Cruz played nine major league seasons from 1996-2005 as an outfielder and hit .241 with 19 homers and 105 RBI in 409 games. The former outfielder was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round (32nd Overall) of the 1994 Draft out of Arizona State University.
Ricardo Medina joins the Smokies as a coach, but is no stranger to the Cubs' organization. Medina will be entering his 19th season with the Cubs' organization and his first season with Tennessee. The coach assumed the same role last year for the Class A Affiliate South Bend Cubs. Medina spent six years (1989-94) in the Cubs farm system as a first baseman and third baseman during his playing career.
2017 will mark the fourth season in the Cubs' organization for trainer Mike McNulty, and his first with the Smokies. McNulty previously served the same role for South Bend in 2016, Eugene in 2015, and Mesa in 2014.