Lee, Watkins & Cerda to Headline 2010 Chiefs

Antigua, Beliveau and Rosa among 2009 returnees

By Nathan Baliva / Peoria Chiefs | April 4, 2010 9:05 AM ET

PEORIA, IL- The Chicago Cubs have announced the players who will comprise the 2010 Opening Day roster for the Peoria Chiefs, barring any injuries in the final Spring Training game on Sunday. Headlining for the Chiefs this year are the Cubs #6 prospect Hak-Ju Lee, #7 prospect Logan Watkins, and former fourth round pick Matt Cerda. Jovan Rosa, Jeffry Antigua, Jeff Beliveau, Mario Mercedes and Jose Valdez are the only five returning Chief players from 2009 while Jordan Latham pitched for the Chiefs in 2008. The initial roster has one remaining opening with a pitcher expected to be added on Wednesday before the regular season begins.

The roster includes six infielders with Hak-Ju Lee, Logan Watkins and Matt Cerda up the middle and Justin Bour, George Matheus and Greg Rohan on the corners.

Lee, the #6 prospect in the Cubs organization according to Baseball America, hit .330 last season as Boise's starting shortstop. The 19-year-old South Korean native led the Northwest League with 25 stolen bases and runs scored (56) while finishing third in hits (87) and fourth in average. Signed in June 2008, Lee missed the 2008 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery before leading off in all 65 starts for Boise last year.

Watkins, the #7 prospect in the Cubs organization according to Baseball America, hit .326 in 72 games last season for Boise with 29 RBI, 14 doubles and 14 steals. He started 63 games at second base and was top five in the Northwest League in games, at-bats, runs, hits and PA/K. A 21st round pick in 2008, Watkins had a scholarship offer to Wichita State before signing with the Cubs.

Cerda played in just seven games last season for Boise before being injured. He started four games at catcher and two at second base while hitting .174. A former Little League World Series star, Cerda was drafted out of Oceanside High School in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. The 19-year-old was signed to play at the University of San Diego before signing with the Cubs and hitting .253 in the Arizona Rookie League in 2008.

Bour hit .258 for Boise last season with two homers, 13 doubles and 27 RBI. He started 46 games at first base and committed just two errors. Bour also hit .273 with 2 hr and 13 RBI in 14 games with Mesa. A 25th round pick last June out of George Mason, Bour is a former All-CAA selection, Freshman All-American and the younger brother of former Dayton Dragon Jason Bour.

Rohan appeared in 61 games for Boise last season starting 31 at third base and 20 at first base. He collected 21 RBI with 14 doubles and four homers while batting .249. A 23-year-old native of Ohio, Rohan was drafted in the 21st round last June out of Kent State University where he hit .349 with 15 homers and 63 RBI.

Matheus played all over the infield for Boise in 2009 with 27 starts at third base, 18 at shortstop and 12 at second base. In 59 total games he batted .229 with five doubles and 22 RBI. A 21-year-old Venezuelan native, Matheus signed with the Cubs in 2007.

The 2010 outfield includes Richard Jones, Jesus Morelli, Alvaro Ramirez and Jose Valdez. Valdez finished last season with the Chiefs after Brett Jackson went down with a late-season hand injury.

Jones began the 2009 season with the Mesa Cubs hitting .319 with seven homers and 17 RBI in 12 games. He moved up to Boise and hit .244 in 33 games with two homers, five doubles and 15 RBI. Jones caught 30 games last season and played just one in the outfield. The 22-year-old was drafted in the ninth round last June out of the Citadel where he hit .379 with 17 homers and 69 RBI.

Morelli appeared in 38 games for the Arizona Rookie League Cubs last season hitting .279 with 26 runs scored, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases. He hit .317 in the Dominican Summer League for the Cubs in 2008 as an 18-year-old after signing a free agent contract.

Ramirez, 24, spent the 2009 season in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .372 with two homers, seven doubles, 24 steals, 30 RBI and 40 runs scored in 58 games. He was acquired by the Cubs as a free agent in 2009 after spending three seasons in the New York Yankees system. With the Yankees, Ramirez played two seasons in the DSL and then hit .238 in 39 games in the Rookie Gulf Coast League in 2008.

Valdez began the 2009 season with Boise hitting .302 with 17 stolen bases and 21 runs scored in 54 games. A switch-hitter, Valdez joined the Chiefs on August 29 and hit .375 over the final eight regular season games while also swiping eight bases and scoring nine runs. He was the lead-off hitter in both playoff games after Brett Jackson was injured. Valdez, 22, signed with the Cubs in 2007.

The opening day roster contains two returnees from the 2009 Chiefs: Jovan Rosa and Mario Mercedes. Rosa has played first and third base with the Chiefs the last two seasons and is in his first season as a catcher while Mercedes also played with the Chiefs in 2008 and 2009.

Rosa began the 2009 season with High-A Daytona batting .220 with two homers, 19 doubles and 33 RBI in 69 games, all at first or third base. He joined the Chiefs in July and hit .301 with four homers, 13 doubles and 32 RBI over the final 40 games while battling two different injuries. His dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth homer tied the Chiefs first playoff game before the eventually fell to Cedar Rapids in ten innings. Rosa set the Chiefs single-season record for doubles with 43 in 2008 as he hit .293 with 81 RBI. Rosa, 22, was born in Puerto Rico but now resides in Connecticut where he attended high school. He was drafted out of Lake City CC in Florida in the 22nd round of the 2006 draft

Mercedes spent all of 2009 with the Chiefs batting .271 with one homer, 11 doubles and 14 RBI in 50 games. His homer, which was his first since 2005, came in late April as a pinch-hitter against the Burlington Bees. Mercedes was primarily the backup catcher last season to Michael Brenly and was the Chiefs third catcher in 2008 when he batted .218 with 18 RBI in 52 games. Mercedes his .315 in 37 contests at Boise in 2006 and .271 in 32 games with the Hawks in 2007. He earned a Florida State League Championship ring with the Daytona Cubs in 2008 after playing in the final five regular season games and making the playoff roster.

The 2010 Opening Day roster consists of 12 pitchers: Jeffry Antigua, Jeffrey Beliveau, Steven Grife, Su-Min Jung, Jordan Latham, Corey Martin, Trey McNutt, Ronny Morla, Jonathan Nagle, Andres Quezada, Nicolas Struck, and Robert Whitenack.

Antigua began the 2009 season with Boise going 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in seven games and five starts. In 31 1/3 innings for the Hawks, the lefty struck out 35 and walked just ten He joined the Chiefs August 2 and went 4-0 with a 3.62 ERA in seven starts while striking out 33 over 37 1/3 innings and walking just nine. Antigua, 19, signed with the Cubs in 2006 out of the Dominican Republic.

Beliveau spent the entire 2009 season with Peoria going 5-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 29 games and seven starts. Over 96 2/3 innings the lefty struck out 117 and walked 45 while holding opponents to a .216 batting average. A 23-year-old, Beliveau was drafted in the 18th round in 2008 out of Florida Atlantic University.

Grife began the 2009 season with Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League going 1-1 with a 6.61 ERA in 14 games out of the bullpen. The right-hander recorded two saves and struck out 22 in 16 1/3 innings. The right-hander finished the season with three shutout bullpen outings for Boise in which he recorded two saves. A 23-year-old Ohio native, Grife was drafted in the 26th round last June out of Mercyhurst College.

Jung made two starts in Mesa and struck out three in three shutout innings for his first US pro experience. After being promoted to Boise, the South Korean native was 0-0 with a 4.38 ERA in eight games and seven starts. Jung, 20, signed with the Cubs in 2008 as a non-drafted free agent.

Latham missed all of the 2009 season after splitting 2008 between the Chiefs and High-A Daytona. The 23-year-old Boise native was 4-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 31 relief outings for Peoria two seasons ago. In 60 2/3 innings he struck out 59 and walked just 17 while recording three saves. He finished the 2008 season with Daytona going 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in 11 relief outings. Latham was drafted in the 29th round of the 2006 draft out of the College of Southern Idaho.

Martin was 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two relief outings for Mesa while striking out two over three innings. He pitched out of Boise's bullpen 21 times going 2-2 with a 5.21 ERA and 21 strikeouts to finish the season. A 22-year-old native of North Carolina, Martin was drafted in the 27th round last June out of Western Carolina University.

McNutt began his pro career with Mesa in 2009 going 0-1 with a 0.00 ERA in six games and four starts. He finished last season with Boise going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in seven games and two starts. The right-hander struck out 21 in 20 1/3 innings. A 32nd round pick out of Shelton State Community College in Alabama, McNutt signed in June 2009 after pitching in the Junior College World Series.

Morla is ready to make his Cubs debut after spending four seasons in the Oakland Athletics organization. Last season he was 1-7 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 games and 12 starts for Short Season-A Vancouver. Morla, 21, was acquired by the Cubs in the December 2009 trade that sent Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to Oakland.

Nagel was 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts for Boise last season. The right-hander racked up 30 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. A 23-year-old native of Springfield, MO, Nagle was drafted in the 17th round of the 2008 draft out of Independence Community College in Kansas.

Quezada came out of the Boise bullpen 18 times last season going 2-3 with a 4.84 ERA. He walked just nine and struck out 29 over 35 1/3 innings. A 24-year-old Dominican native, Quezada signed with the Cubs in 2006 and played the outfield in the Dominican Summer League in 2006 and 2007 before switching to the mound.

Struck was drafted out of Mt. Hood Community College in the 29th round last June but did not pitch professionally last season.

Whitenack went 0-4 with a 4.80 ERA in 15 games and 12 starts last season for Boise. He logged 54 1/3 innings and struck out 33 while featuring a knuckleball. A 21-year-old native of New York, Whitenack was drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 draft out of SUNY-Old Westbury.

Overall the 24-man roster includes four 19-year-olds, four 20-year-olds, four 21-year-olds, four 22-year-olds, six 23-year-olds and two 24-year-olds. Lee is the youngest player having turned 19 in November while Quezada is the oldest with his 24th birthday in March. The roster features 13 American born players, six Dominican natives, two South Koreans, two Venezuelans and one Puerto Rican born player in Jovan Rosa who now lives in Connecticut.

The Chiefs players and their coaches will arrive in Peoria Monday night April 5 and will practice at O'Brien Field Tuesday April 6. The Chiefs will host Bradley University Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. in an exhibition game with tickets available at the O'Brien Field Box Office for $6. The regular season begins Thursday, April 8 at Clinton to start a nine-game road swing through Iowa and Wisconsin. The Chiefs home opener is Saturday, April 17 at 1:00 p.m. against the Burlington Bees and tickets are available at the O'Brien Field Box Office, by calling 1-888-MYTICKET or online at www.peoriachiefs.com

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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