"We are excited to have Casey join the Chiefs staff," said Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen. "He has a great baseball background having been with the Cubs either as a player or coach for 11 years. He knows the system and already knows the players from Boise who will likely by with the Chiefs this season. He is in position to be the next in a long line of young managers who have had success in Peoria on their way up the ladder to the Majors."
Kopitzke is a newcomer to the Chiefs staff but has spent 11 seasons in the Cubs organization as a player, coach and manager. Last season he managed for the first time with the Boise Hawks of the Short Season-A Northwest League. The 31 year-old guided the Hawks to a 34-42 record in 2009 and a third place finish in the East Division of the NWL. He managed possible future Chiefs and top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Logan Watkins, Matt Cerda and Chris Rusin. Before managing the Hawks last season, Kopitzke served as the Cubs roving catching coordinator from 2007-2008 and made numerous stops in Peoria and other venues around the Midwest League to work with Chiefs catchers and hitters.
Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Kopitzke was drafted by the Cubs in the 27th round of the 1999 draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He began his pro career as a catcher with Eugene in the Northwest League in 1999. Kopitzke spent the 2000 season in the Midwest League with the Lansing Lugnuts hitting .224 with 22 RBI in 68 games. The following year he moved up to the Florida State League and hit .240 for Daytona. Kopitzke spent the 2002 and 2003 seasons with Double-A West Tennessee in the Southern League. In 2002 he hit .221 and in 2003 batted a career-best .261. He caught for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in 2004 hitting .215 with a homer and 17 RBI before going back to West Tennessee for the 2005 season. Kopitzke retired after the 2006 campaign in which he hit .239 in 30 games for Iowa.
"I'm very excited to be coming to Peoria," Kopitzke said. "I always enjoyed my time there as a rover. The stadium is awesome, one of the best in Minor League Baseball and the fans are great with their support. I'm also looking forward to being back in the Midwest where I grew up and in a league that I played in. It will be fun to be back in those stadiums and see the new ones as well."
Overall Kopitzke played in 495 Minor League games hitting .230 with two homers, 44 doubles, 122 RBI. He was known as a defensive catcher committing just 11 errors in 2,057 chances between 2002 and 2006. In his nine years as a player, Kopitzke caught future Major Leaguers Mark Prior, Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, Ricky Nolasco, Randy Wells, Sean Marshall, Sergio Mitre, Todd Wellemeyer and Rich Hill among others. He played for current Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley in 2001 with Daytona and current Cubs third-base coach Mike Quade was his manager in Iowa in 2004 and 2006. Other coaches Kopitzke has worked with include current Washington Nationals third-base coach Pat Listach, Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz, Orioles bullpen coach Alan Dunn and former Cubs hitting coach Von Joshua.
"I learned a lot last year (as a first year manager) knowing that I didn't have all the answers," Kopitzke said. "I went into Boise wide-eyed and took it all in. We played hard every day and the players have great ability and now we want to build on that. Our guys last year brought a fun game to the park every day. They ran and played great defense and always put pressure on the other teams. It was a fun and exciting group of players and I'm confident that style will translate to Peoria."
A graduate of East DePere High School in Wisconsin, Kopitzke earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from UW-Oshkosh in 2001. He and his wife Erin currently live in DePere, Wisconsin. At the age of 31 on Opening Day 2010, Kopitzke will be the Chiefs third-youngest manager ever. Only Brian Rupp who was 27 for the season opener in 1999 and Joe Maddon who was 30 for the first game in 1984 were younger than Kopitzke will be for the Chiefs on April 8 when he takes the field in Clinton.
Barbaro Garbey returns to the Chiefs as the hitting coach after a very successful 2009 campaign in which Peoria led the Midwest League with a .278 team average. Under Garbey, the Chiefs also led the MWL in home runs, slugging percentage and total bases. The offense was top three in doubles, hits, runs scored, RBI and OPS. The Chiefs were one of just two teams to have two players (Rebel Ridling and Kyler Burke) finish in the top 10 in the MWL in batting average and Josh Vitters led the league in home runs and RBI at the time of his promotion to Daytona. Overall last season, Garbey helped top prospects Josh Vitters, Kyler Burke, Brett Jackson, Ryan Flaherty, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Harrison and Rebel Ridling to successful campaigns. Before returning to the Chiefs in 2009, Garbey was the hitting coach for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies in 2007 and 2008. The 2008 team hit .262 while the 2007 squad hit .271. Garbey has worked with the likes of Sam Fuld, Jake Fox, Wellington Castillo and Tyler Colvin during his time with the Cubs. Garbey first worked in Peoria in 2006 when he helped Jody Davis manage the Chiefs to the playoffs. Prior to joining the Chiefs in 2006, Garbey coached youngsters at the Total Sports Facility in suburban Detroit. He has also worked in the Detroit Tigers organization as the hitting coach in West Michigan in 2003 and in Oneonta of the New York-Penn League in 2002.
Garbey, 41, made history in 1980 when he became the first player to ever leave the Cuban National team and come to the United States as one of 125,000 who left Cuba in the Mariel Boatlift. The infielder/outfielder signed with Detroit in 1980 and made his debut in April 1984. He played 110 games as a rookie that season getting time at first base, second base, third base, outfield and DH. Garbey batted .287 that season with five homers, 17 doubles and 52 RBI as the Tigers led the AL East from day one and won the World Series in five games over San Diego. Garbey spent the next season in Detroit under Hall of Fame Manager Sparky Anderson before he was traded to Oakland. In 1988 he played in 30 games for Texas before retiring.
The Garbey family has a long history of successful athletic accomplishments both in Cuba and the United States. He is half brother to Livan and Orlando Hernandez, who have combined to win four World Series in the last nine years. In 1978, Garbey was a member of the Cuban National Team that won the World Amateur Championships. His older brother Rolando won Cuba's first ever International Gold Medal in the light-middleweight boxing class at the 1967 Pan American Games and then won a Silver Medal in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and a Bronze in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. His sister Marcia took 4th at the 1972 Munich Olympics in the long jump, which at the time was the highest ever finish for a Cuban woman in a track event.
Pitching coach David Rosario returns to the Chiefs for the second time after spending 2008 in Daytona and 2009 in Boise. The 2009 Boise Hawks posted a team ERA of 4.76 while the 2008 Daytona Cubs won the Florida State League title in large part thanks to Rosario's pitching staff. The D-Cubs led the FSL in 2008 with a 3.51 ERA while winning 73 games. They led the league in least amount of hits and runs allowed while also saving 37 games. With the Chiefs in 2007, Rosario's staff posted a 4.02 ERA and 71 wins while missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Since starting with Boise in 2004, Rosario has worked with top Cubs prospects including: Andrew Cashner, Jose Ceda, Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson, Casey Lambert, Alex Maestri, Jeremy Papelbon, Blake Parker, James Russell, Mitch Atkins, Donnie Veal and Jerry Blevins.
Rosario, 41, was born in Brooklyn, NY but calls Manati, Puerto Rico home. He served as Boise's pitching coach in both 2005 and 2006. Boise posted a 44-32 record in 2006 with a 3.80 team ERA and 300 more strikeouts than walks. Before joining the Cubs system, Rosario pitched professionally for 18 seasons for Manati in the Puerto Rican Winter League and was a bullpen coach for Manati for four seasons. He also managed in the Puerto Rican Summer League. As a player, Rosario pitched in the minors with the Cubs (1986-1992), Yankees (1993) and Expos (1994). He played in Peoria in 1987 for Jim Tracy going 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 23 relief appearances. That pitching staff included future Major Leaguers Shawn Boskie, Heath Slocumb, Mike Harkey and Pat Gomez. Rosario was traded from the Cubs to the New York Yankees during the 1991 season and won back-to-back International League titles with the Columbus Clippers. The 1992 team is widely considered to be one of the best Minor League teams of the last 30 years. Managed by Rick Down, the 1992 Clippers were 95-49 with a roster that included Bernie Williams, Bob Wickman, J.T. Snow, Brad Ausmus and Russ Springer. Rosario was a key component in the bullpen going 8-5 with a 2.33 ERA and six saves in 54 games.
Dan Golden is another newcomer to Peoria as the Chiefs athletic trainer. The Libertyville, IL native began his career as the Cubs athletic training intern in 2007 and spent last season with Boise working with Kopitzke and Rosario. In addition to former Chiefs Brett Jackson, Dae-Eun Rhee and Jeffry Antigua, Golden also worked last year with top Cubs prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Logan Watkins, Brooks Raley, Austin Kirk and Chris Rusin. He worked the Instructional League this fall for the Cubs in Mesa with former Chiefs Kyler Burke, Rebel Ridling and Ryan Flaherty. Golden is a 2006 graduate of Western Illinois University and he worked as the Hoffman Estates High School Assistant Athletic Trainer before joining the Cubs organization.
As for the 2009 Chiefs staff, manager Marty Pevey is now the Cubs roving catching coordinator while pitching coach Rich Bombard and athletic trainer Kelly Vanhove are no longer with the Cubs organization. Former Chiefs managers Ryne Sandberg will manage Triple-A Iowa while former Chiefs skipper Jody Davis will return to managing with the Short Season-A Boise Hawks. Davis did not manage in 2009, serving instead as the Cubs roving catching coordinator.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.