- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Vice-president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod invited Kerry Wood to talk to the 10 prospects last weekend, and asked Prior to speak to the players today at Wrigley Field.
"Having all the hype and the pressure to perform in this arena, who better than those two guys having been two of the most hyped Cubs prospects in the last 15 to 20 years," McLeod said.
Prior pitched five years for the Cubs, compiling a 42-29 record with a 3.51 ERA before numerous arm injuries caused him to retire. The 32-year-old California native is still trying to get back to the major leagues, having pitched for the Yankees, Padres and Red Sox minor league clubs over the last six seasons.
McLeod was asked if a minor league pitching contract was available with the Cubs.
"I know Mark from San Diego and that is how this whole thing came about," McLeod said. "I don't know what the deal was when he left (the Cubs). I don't know if there were bad feelings. All I know is I reached out to him a little over a week ago or so. I told him about our program and asked if he would mind coming in to talk to these young guys.
"I thought he would say 'No,' but he was fired up about it. He said 'I would love to come to talk to those guys.' He could not stay for the Cubs convention because his daughter's birthday is this weekend."
The Cubs' minor league camp took place at Northwestern University's indoor football facility.
McLeod said that the Cubs will continue to host these mini-camps for their top prospects to prepare them for on and off the field realities that major league players face to begin their careers.
Prior's best season was 2003 when he was 16-6 with a 2.43 ERA while leading the league with 245 strikeouts. He was the losing pitcher in the notorious 'Bartman Game' that season when the Cubs lost to the Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the NLCS. The Cubs were just five outs from their first World Series appearance in 46 years before blowing a three-run lead.