Cubs announce baseball operations hirings and promotions, establish mental skills program

MESA, AZ - The Chicago Cubs today announced a series of baseball operations hirings and promotions, including the establishment of the club's new mental skills program, the hiring of Manny Ramirez (Hitting Consultant) and Kevin Youkilis (Scouting and Player Development Consultant) and several additions and promotions in amateur and professional scouting.

The club's new mental skills program, which is designed to assist major and minor league players with the mental aspects of baseball, will be structured as follows:

- Josh Lifrak, Director, Mental Skills Program - Josh joins the Cubs after spending the last 10 years as the senior mental conditioning consultant at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. While at IMG, Josh developed and implemented mental skills training programs for hundreds of athletes spanning a multitude of sports, including baseball.

- Darnell McDonald, Coordinator, Mental Skills Program - Darnell has been promoted to this role after joining the club's front office last April as a baseball operations assistant. McDonald retired from a 16-year professional career at the end of spring training last year, a career that included all or part of seven seasons at the big league level.

- Rey Fuentes, Latin Coordinator, Mental Skills Program - Rey begins his third season with the organization and first in this role following two years as cultural programs coordinator. Fuentes graduated from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., in 2002 with a degree in Exceptional Student Education.

- Dr. Ken Ravizza, Consultant, Mental Skills Program - Dr. Ravizza is a professor of Applied Sport Psychology at Cal-State Fullerton and has served as a consultant to the U.S. Olympics team for more than 20 years, as well as many professional organizations, including the Tampa Bay Rays, under manager Joe Maddon, the Los Angeles Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The club also added Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis in the following roles:

Manny Ramirez, Hitting Consultant - Ramirez joined the Cubs last season as a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa. A two-time World Champion and 2004 World Series MVP, Ramirez played 19 major league seasons with the Cleveland Indians (1993-2000), the Boston Red Sox (2001-08), Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-10), the Chicago White Sox (2010) and Tampa Bay Rays (2011). He batted .312 with a .411 on-base percentage and a .585 slugging percentage, good for a .996 OPS. In his new role, Ramirez will continue to work with the club's major and minor league hitters on the fundamental and mental aspects of hitting.

Kevin Youkilis, Scouting and Player Development Consultant - Youkilis recently retired from an 11-year major league career with the Boston Red Sox (2004-2012), Chicago White Sox (2012) and New York Yankees (2013). He played briefly in Japan in 2014. The two-time World Champion was a career .281 hitter with a .382 on-base percentage and a .478 slugging percentage, good for a .860 OPS. In his role, Youkilis will assist the front office by scouting amateur and professional hitters in Northern California and will work with hitters in the minor league system under the direction of the hitting coordinator.

The following promotions and additions have taken place in amateur scouting:

- Tim Adkins, named Midwest/Northeast Crosschecker. For Adkins, this is a promotion from area scout.

- Trey Forkerway, named Central Crosschecker. For Forkerway, this is a promotion from area scout.

- Daniel Carte, hired as an Area Scout, Ohio Valley. Carte joins the Cubs from West Virginia University, where he served as an assistant coach.

- Kevin Ellis, hired as an Area Scout, South Texas/Louisiana. Ellis joins the Cubs from the San Diego Padres, where he was an area scout.

- Greg Hopkins, hired as an Area Scout, Northwest. Hopkins most recently scouted the northwest for the Pittsburgh Pirates through the 2013 campaign.

- Alex Levitt, hired as an Area Scout, Deep South. Levitt joins the Cubs from Vanderbilt University, where he served as baseball operations director in addition to recruiting and advanced scouting duties.

The following promotion and addition have taken place in professional scouting:

- Terry Kennedy, Major League Scout. For Kennedy, this is a promotion from professional scout.

- Jason Parks, Professional/Amateur Scout. Parks joined the Cubs last year after spending the better part of the previous four years at Baseball Prospectus as the head prospect writer for the site.