CHICAGO – Next week’s baseball draft might not be able to help the Cubs as quickly as they may have wanted.
Jason McLeod, the club’s senior vice president of scouting/player development said the draft is loaded with pitching, a key organization need, but that most of those talented arms are from the pool of high-school talent.
The Cubs are trying to rebuild the organization primarily for the long term, so in that sense pitchers that will take a little longer to develop will make sense. But as the recent 12-game losing streak showed, there are some gaps that need to be filled in the short term as well, not just on the mound but in various areas of the roster as well.
“I think what we’ve seen so far the high-school pitching has been really strong this year,” McLeod said. “It’s a down year in college position-player wise which is never a great thing. But it’s a strong high-school class and there is some depth in the college pitching as well.”
It could be that college-pitching depth where the Cubs focus on first, but just because pitching is a need doesn’t mean the team will necessarily go there with the sixth overall selection Monday.
“The buzz word we use is impact,” McLeod said of the first-round pick. “Who will provide the best impact for the organization and that’s the direction we’re going to go with that pick.”
The Cubs have already targeted about eight or nine players they wouldn’t mind taking with their first overall pick.
About 20 members of the scouting and player-development staff have been working long hours this week, in addition to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
And before the opening day of the draft arrives, the Cubs expect to work out up to 40 draft-eligible players at Wrigley Field, also putting them through an interview process. As reported by ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine earlier Wednesday, one of those players will be 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa of Puerto Rico.
The Cubs are already well versed in what guys like Correa can do on the field, but meting with them is also an important part of the evaluation process.
“It was something that Theo and I started doing back in Boston about seven years ago where he and I, either we went to see the player ourselves to meet with them or we brought them into Boston and now Chicago to ask some very pointed questions,” MeLeod said. “Any time you make a selection it’s a significant investment not only in money but in the organization. You only get one chance per round.”