Tomy Sanchez, Armando Gabino, Wilme Mora, Dom Nunez, Luis Devers and Scott Kobos – Feature photo by Rich Biesterfeld

The Arizona Complex League (ACL) kicks off its season on Monday evening, June 5. The Cubs, led by first year manager Nick Lovullo, will face off at home against the Angels. The opening day roster is comprised of a mixture of players from international signings and from last year’s draft. With the elimination of the ‘short season’ leagues prior to 2021, it has become more common for players to spend more than one season in the ACL and there are a number of returning players this year. Throughout the summer, there will also be members of the organization who are recovering from injuries playing in games as part of their rehab assignments.  The league typically plays night games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and a day game on Saturday. Wednesday is a camp day for workouts and Sunday is an off day.

Tentative Opening Day Roster:

  • IF: Alexis Hernandez, Geuri Lubo, Chris Paciolla, Jefferson Rojas, Lizardo Ruiz
  • OF: Brayan Altuve, Ke’Shun Collier, Raino Coran, Jefferson Encarnacion, Frank Hernandez, Cristian More, Christian Olivo, Anderson Suriel
  • SP: Carlos Garcia, Mason McGwire, Yenrri Rojas, Freilyn Silverio
  • RP: Gabriel Agrazal, Dominic Hambley, Wilme Mora, Gleiber Morales, Eligio Paredes, Matt Peters, Luis A Reyes, Wilber Rodriguez, Tomy Sanchez
  • C: Jairo Diaz, Dilan Granadillo, Adán Sanchez, Wally Soto

Players to watch:

  • Carlos Garcia – Carlos was born in Cuba and signed as an international free agent in May, 2021. He spent all of the 2022 season on the restricted list due to a PED suspension. Since his return, he has looked strong and led the staff during Extended ST with the lowest WHIP and OppBA. (Based on stats compiled by Arizona Phil!)
  • Mason McGwire – Mason was an 8th round pick in 2022 out of Capistrano Valley HS and has the pedigree of having a father (Mark) who is a former major leaguer. Mason has a lean build while still generating good velocity on his pitches. He has averaged 1 K per inning during Extended Spring Training and will most likely be in the starting rotation for the ACL team.
  • Gleiber Morales – Gleiber signed with the Cubs in December 2019 out of Venezuela. He pitched in the DSL in 2021 and briefly in 2022 before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of that season. Now that he’s healthy again, he’s looking to make his mark in the ACL. During Extended ST, he led the team in strikeouts, but also surrendered the most walks, so he can be dominating, if he can better master the command of his pitches.
  • Chris Paciolla – Chris was a 3rd round draft pick out of Temecula Valley HS in 2022. He has played a lot of shortstop and 3rd base, while also seeing some time at 2nd base. He gets to balls quickly and has a quick release to his throws. As Chris gets a little older, I suspect his lanky frame will fill out more and which will increase his power potential.
  • Jefferson Rojas – Jefferson is another international free agent signing from 2022 and hails from the Dominican Republic. He has played shortstop, 2nd and 3rd base and was named to the 2022 DSL Summer League All-Star team while leading his team in batting average and hits. Jefferson has a great work ethic which has earned him the respect of his teammates.
  • Adán Sanchez – Adán signed as an international free agent out of Panama in January, 2022. He possesses a solid frame that fits his position as a catcher. Adán brings some slug to the line-up and has a strong arm behind the plate. When you factor in that he just turned 18, he’ll be a fun prospect to watch.

Same name, new position

In some situations, the coaching staff may approach a player to propose a change of position when they see potential which could open more possibilities for the player. The Cubs have had a history of success with several players who have participated in their catcher conversion program – Willson Contreras, Bryce Windham and Miguel Pabon. Frank Hernandez (outfielder) and Lizardo Ruiz (infielder) are both  currently participating in the program to learn the catching trade. Raino Coran has been an outfielder and has begun transitioning to be a pitcher. He’s very early in the process and has just begun throwing off of a mound.

That guy looks familiar!

The Cubs have a state-of-the-art facility in Sloan Park in Arizona and frequently use the tools there for the players going through the rehabilitation process. This spans situations like players who have had Tommy John Surgery (Codi Heuer, Ethan Roberts, Drew Gray, Tyler Schlaffer, etc.) and are in the rehab process for close to a year or more, to short term injuries such as a broken bone or muscular injury (Bryce Windham, Cole Roederer, Dom Nunez, DJ Artis). In order to get some game experience before returning to an affiliate level team, many of these players will be temporarily assigned to the ACL team. Some players who may be seeing some action in ACL games early in the season include: Luis Devers, Drew Gray, Ed Howard, Scott Kobos, Joel Machado and Kenyi Perez. As they complete their rehab, they will return to their full-season club assignments and other players in the system may be added to the ACL roster.