A few weeks ago, the Cubs reshuffled their management structure especially at the top of the Cubs minor-league system. One of those moves included Matt Dorey moving from Director of Player Development to Director of Player Personnel. Dorey sat down with Gordon Wittenmyer, and Tony Andracki of NBC Sports to discuss some of those changes along with what’s happening with the Cubs’ System.
Dorey spoke at length about his role and explained that even though his new title is Director of player personnel, he’s still going to have his hands and imprint all over the Cubs’ system. One thing he’s going to be doing in 2022 is working with all the affiliates from the Dominican all the way up to Iowa to make sure that they have the right facilities and developmental practices needed for the Cubs’ prospects. In addition, Dorey said he’ll also be involved in working with Dan Kantrovitz in some capacity on the draft. Dorey expressed that he’s still a scouting and talent evaluator at heart.
In addition, Dorey will be helping Jared Banner, the new Director of Player Development, settle into the role and get to know all the ins and outs of what the Cubs are doing. From the sound of it, Dorey’s going to have a lot of pots on the stove, and when the man the major league squad gets going, he’ll be adding even more. Dorey‘s new role is going to allow him to touch every aspect of baseball operations while Banner will oversee the day-to-day operations of the minors. With the departure of Jason McLeod, the Cubs probably expect Dorey to fill a lot of the shoes of McLeod.
As for the upcoming season, Dorey said the Cubs minor league system is locked and loaded and ready to go. Right now there’s a group of about 30 players out in Mesa who are working on getting ready for the season. He did mention that Kohl Franklin and Riley Thompson have both been released from rehabbing their shoulder issues from last year and are ready to begin ramping up for the season when given the go ahead.
Dorey also laid out a schedule for the Cubs for the next month. The Cubs will have a mini camp for minor leaguers beginning on February 21 and then their actual reporting date to begin spring training will be March 2 for physicals. The camp should be in full motion by the 6th or the 7th. That will give prospects a full four weeks of camp before they head to the new affiliates while some will stay in extended spring training.
One of the more interesting parts of the conversation was when Dorey spoke at length about how the Cubs provided housing, food, and rides for the players that worked out this winter. He also said that the Cubs are looking into building dorms/permanent housing for each affiliate for during the regular season. One of the Cubs’ biggest concerns in Myrtle Beach and South Bend is finding adequate housing for the odd time frame. Considering that South Bend is a college town and Myrtle Beach is a vacation getaway, the hotel structure does not always work best all the time.
It was really a cool moment in the podcast when Andracki brought up the recent Baseball America farm system rankings that had the Cubs at number 15. Most of you that have read North Side Bound, Cubs Central, Ivy Futures, and Out of the Vines the past few months know that we have thought highly of the young talent Cubs have acquired in the past year. Dorey echoed our belief in these young prospects when he said internally “We’ve always known..” how good they were and how good they can be. Dorey also added that just getting back some formerly top rated prospects who were injured to a fully healthy status will make the ranking even higher than 15.
The highlight of the interview was when questioned about whether Caleb Kilian could make it to Chicago this summer, Dorey responded, “I don’t want to say no” and the Kilian was on in Mesa working on the “the pitch design he started in the fall.” That’s a pretty good vote of confidence.
One thing Dorey loves about the system right now is the tools most elite prospects have and the depth of tools the Cubs will have at their disposal. He seemed to be gushing a little bit and he almost seemed giddy when talking about Pete Crow-Armstrong, whom he referred to as PCA. He said that Crow-Armstrong moved out of rehab mode and will be seeing live at-bats on day one of spring training and he has even added some strength to his frame. Nice!
As for the influence of new GM Carter Hawkins, Dorey said that Hawkins will have his imprint over the system but that there is absolutely no secret sauce when it comes to pitching development and that the Cubs would have to earn their luck and be humble to pivot when things aren’t working well. Dorey finished up by talking about the Cubs depth of shortstops and really only spoke at length about Cristian Hernandez and the potential of Luis Vasquez after missing most of last year.
Overall, it was a really well done podcast with a lot of interesting topics. While Dorey didn’t really drop any sleepers for us to watch for this spring, you can be rest assured there will be some guys breaking out in time. With no major league spring training or regular season in sight, the minors could be all Cub fans have for awhile…