Cubs Announce Spring Training Invites

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today announced the club has invited 19 players to Major League Spring Training, which begins Wednesday, February 13 when pitchers and catchers are due to report in Mesa, Ariz. Position players report to camp Monday, February 18 with the team's first full workout Tuesday, February 19.

Seven pitchers – lefthanders Ed Campusano, Geoff Jones and Les Walrond and righthanders Esmailin Caridad, Jose Ceda, Chad Fox and Mike Smith – have been invited to major league camp, as well as catchers Welington Castillo, JD Closser, Josh Donaldson and Koyie Hill. Infielders Andres Blanco, Luis Figueroa, Micah Hoffpauir, Casey McGehee and Bobby Scales have also been invited, along with outfielders Tyler Colvin, Josh Kroeger and Andres Torres.

Andres Blanco, 23, signed with the Cubs as a minor league free agent November 20, 2007, after spending his first seven seasons in Kansas City's system. The switch-hitter played 78 big league games with the Royals from 2004-2006, batting .252 with 19 RBI. Blanco last year missed time due to hamstring strains in both legs, appearing in 28 games for Triple-A Omaha.

Ed Campusano, 25, was re-acquired by the Cubs October 10, 2007, after he missed last season recovering from left elbow surgery while with Detroit. Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2001, he produced a 3.17 ERA (75 ER/213.0 IP) with 77 walks and 224 strikeouts in 109 minor league contests (19 starts) before Milwaukee selected him in the major league portion of the 2006 Rule 5 Draft and traded him to Detroit.

Esmailin Caridad, 22, was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent December 19, 2007. The six-foot, 195-pound righthander spent 2007 with the Hiroshima Carp. He was 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA (14 ER/31.1 IP) in 25 relief appearances for the Carp's Dominican club and later appeared in two Central League contests.

Welington Castillo, 20, owns a .273 batting average in 168 minor league contests since he was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in December of 2004. Last season, the right-handed hitter batted .271 for Single-A Peoria, including a .323 average (31-for-96) off southpaws.

Jose Ceda, 20, enters his third season with the Cubs after being acquired from San Diego June 31, 2006 in exchange for Todd Walker and cash considerations. He held opponents hitless in his final 23.1 innings pitched (15 appearances) for Single-A Peoria in 2007. Between Mesa and Peoria last season, he posted a .099 batting average against (16-for-162).

JD Closser, 27, spent time in the majors with Colorado from 2004-2006, batting .239 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI in 160 contests. He began last season with Triple-A Nashville in Milwaukee's system before he was traded to Oakland May 4. He completed the year at Triple-A Sacramento, hitting .238 with 11 homers and 45 RBI for the Rail Cats. The switch-hitter was originally selected by Arizona in the fifth round of the 1998 Draft.

Tyler Colvin, 22, has batted .288 with 27 home runs and 134 RBI in his first two minor league seasons, including a .299 mark between Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last year. Chicago's first round selection (13th overall) in the 2006 Draft, the left-handed batter was a Florida State League All-Star in 2007 and was a member of the gold-medal winning Team USA in the 2007 Baseball World Cup.

Josh Donaldson, 22, was named a Short-Season All-Star by Baseball America while his .460 on-base percentage between Mesa and Boise ranked third-best among all minor leaguers and his .590 slugging percentage ranked 13th. Originally selected by the Cubs in the second round of the 2007 Draft, he batted .346 (56-for-162) in 49 contests for Boise and led Northwest League catchers with a .990 fielding percentage.

Luis Figueroa, 33, batted .302 with 22 doubles and 53 RBI in 117 games for Triple-A Fresno last season while his one strikeout per 14.47 at-bats was the best in the Pacific Coast League. He is a .276 career minor league hitter and has seen major league action with Pittsburgh (2001), the New York Mets (2001), Toronto (2006) and San Francisco (2007), appearing in a total of 22 games.

Chad Fox, 37, signed with the Cubs as a minor-league free agent January 11, 2008 for his second stint with the organization. He made 11 relief appearances for the Cubs in 2005, his last active season, and converted one save with a 6.75 ERA (6 ER/ 8.0 IP). He is 10-11 with a 3.57 ERA in 214 relief appearances in all or part of eight major league seasons.

Koyie Hill, 29, batted .322 in 47 games with Triple-A Iowa last season and played in 36 contests for the Cubs from June 1-August 20, with the club going 17-8 (.680) in games he started behind the plate. A career .280 hitter in eight minor league seasons, the switch-hitter was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2000 Draft.

Micah Hoffpauir, 27, batted .319 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI in 82 games for Triple-A Iowa last season before an injured left knee in July sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Originally selected by the Cubs in the 13th round of the 2002 Draft, the left-handed hitter owns a .280 career minor league batting average with 122 doubles, 71 home runs and 377 RBI in 604 games.

Geoff Jones, 28, spent a majority of the 2007 season with Double-A Tennessee, going 4-2 with a 1.02 ERA (5 ER/44.1 IP) in 39 relief appearances en route to Southern League All-Star honors. Originally selected by San Diego in the 32nd round of the 1998 Draft, Jones has struck out 461 batters in 477.2 career innings, walking just 182.

Josh Kroeger, 25, combined to hit a career-high 21 home runs while batting .330 between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, including a .382 mark (86-for-225) to begin the year with the Smokies. A career .283 minor league hitter with 85 homers and 471 RBI over 887 games, the left-handed hitter batted .167 in 22 games for the Diamondbacks in 2004.

Casey McGehee, 25, spent the majority of 2007 with Double-A Tennessee, hitting .273 with nine home runs and 54 RBI in 105 games. Originally selected by the Cubs in the 10th round of the 2003 Draft, the right-handed hitter has averaged 27 doubles in his first five minor league seasons.

Bobby Scales, 30, signed with the Cubs as a minor league free agent December 7, 2007 after batting a career-best .294 with 28 doubles, 11 home runs and 57 RBI in 122 games for Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate last season. Selected in the 14th round of the 1999 Draft by the Padres, the switch-hitter owns a .280 career minor league batting average in 871 contests with the San Diego (1999-2005), Philadelphia (2006) and Boston (2007) farm systems.

Mike Smith, 30, spent the 2007 campaign with Triple-A Memphis in St. Louis' farm system and finished second in the Pacific Coast League with 127 strikeouts in 159.2 innings of work. Signed by the Cubs as a minor league free agent November 20, 2007, he has appeared in the majors with Toronto (2002) and Minnesota (2006), pitching in 15 games (seven starts). Smith was originally selected by Toronto in the fifth round of the 2000 Draft.

Andres Torres, 29, signed with Chicago as a minor league free agent November 20, 2007 after batting .292 between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo in Detroit's farm system last season. The right-handed batter has appeared in 89 major league contests with Detroit (2002-2004) and Texas (2005), combining to bat .210 with 13 RBI. Torres was originally selected by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 1998 Draft.

Les Walrond, 31, went 11-5 with a 4.77 ERA (73 ER/137.2 IP) in 27 games (24 starts) for Triple-A Iowa last season. This marks his third straight invite to Chicago's major league camp after the organization signed him as a minor league free agent January 11, 2006. His most recent major league action came with the Cubs in 2006 when he appeared in 10 games (two starts). He also logged big league time with Kansas City in 2003 (seven relief outings).

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