The 2016 Midwest League manager of the year, Jimmy Gonzalez, will return for a third season at the helm of the South Bend Cubs in 2017.
Gonzalez led the Cubs to an 84-55 record in the regular season this year, tying the team for second-most wins in South Bend franchise history. The Cubs won the first-half Eastern Division title and were knocked out of the playoffs by the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Both of Gonzalez’s South Bend teams featured top Midwest League prospects. The 2015 team starred shortstop Gleyber Torres, who was named the MWL prospect of the year. (The Chicago Cubs traded him to the New York Yankees in a four-player deadline deal involving Aroldis Chapman in late July.) The 2016 team included outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who was named the MWL MVP and prospect of the year, and pitcher Preston Morrison, who posted a 2.24 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 92.1 innings.
Gonzalez is a former catcher who spent 14 years in the minor leagues, including Midwest League stints in 1992, 1993 and 1995. In 1992, he batted .176 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in 91 games with the Burlington Astros. In 1993, he batted .227 with 15 RBI in 47 games with the Quad City River Bandits. In 1995, he batted .244 with 1 HR and 14 RBI in 35 games with the River Bandits.
Brian Lawrence will return to South Bend as the team’s pitching coach in 2017, after having served in the same role for the club in 2015. He was the pitching coach for the Northwest League champion Eugene Emeralds in 2016. Eugene’s star pitcher was left-hander Manuel Rondon, who went 6-1 with a 1.10 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 22 walks in 57.1 innings (12 starts). He likely will start the 2017 season with the South Bend Cubs.
Lawrence pitched for the San Diego Padres from 2001 to 2005, and for the New York Mets for part of the 2007 season. He pitched for the Clinton LumberKings in 1998, going 5-3 with a 2.80 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 13 walks in 80.1 IP (12 starts).
Jeremy Farrell will serve as South Bend’s hitting coach in 2017. The son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell, he joined the Cubs organization before last season after an eight-year minor-league playing career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox.
Jonathan Mota will be South Bend’s assistant coach. He played 11 seasons as an infielder in the Cubs farm system, including 151 games with the 2006-08 and 2010 Peoria Chiefs. He batted .276 with 4 HR, 49 RBI and 11 SB in the Midwest League.