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Cubs hire new farm director amidst front office moves

2 months agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs front office is continuing to fill out.

The team is hiring Jason Kanzler as director of player development and promoting Ryan Otero to director of pitching, sources confirmed. Kanzler takes over for Jared Banner, who was promoted to assistant general manager earlier this offseason after losing assistant general manager/vice president of pitching Craig Breslow to Boston and Otero assumes the lead job of the Cubs’ pitching department. Breslow is the chief baseball officer for the Red Sox.

Kanzler joins the Cubs’ organization from Houston, where he served as the Astros’ assistant hitting coach for the last two seasons. Kanzler was pivotal in helping shortstop Jeremy Peña adjust in the fall of 2022, a turnaround that sparked the rookie to win ALCS and World Series MVP honors as Houston won their second Fall Classic.

The Cubs farm system is among the best in the business — FanGraphs ranks them at the top of their farm system rankings. It’s quite a turnaround for the Cubs, who ranked 22nd in FanGraphs’ rankings entering the 2021 season. That season, the Cubs traded away the core of the 2016 World Series winning core.

Since then, the team has acquired top prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcántara and Ben Brown via trade. They’ve also augmented that through the draft with players like Jordan Wicks, Cade Horton and Matt Shaw. That has them confident about the organization’s long-term future.

They’ve also seen plenty of unheralded prospects — like Christopher Morel and Javier Assad — debut and contribute in big ways to the big-league team. The Cubs know that several of those prospects could contribute in 2024 in big ways, so Kanzler joins the organization at a pivotal time.

Otero’s promotion comes at a time when the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure has been at its best. The organization’s struggles to produce homegrown pitching had been well-documented, but pitchers like Wicks, Assad, Horton, Adbert Alzolay and others have helped reverse that notion. He joined the organization in 2018 as a player development assistant and rose to assistant director of pitching.

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