ATLANTA -- With a decision already made to switch things up at closer, Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer's focus is on his team’s offense and the upcoming amateur draft in June.
Hoyer, along with team president Theo Epstein and director of scouting Jason McLeod, met with Georgia-area prospects Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows this week as they prepare to select No. 2 overall.
“We are narrowing it down,” Hoyer said before the Cubs-Braves game on Sunday. “During this homestand we’ll have mid-point meetings for the scouting season and go over it. We haven’t narrowed it down to hitter vs. pitcher yet. We’ve narrowed it down to a group. We’ll meet next week and decide if that group is big enough (or) if we need to include more players in that group.”
Mark Appel of Stanford and Ryne Stanek of Arkansas are considered the top rated pitchers -- a position at which the Cubs are lacking -– but they’ve said in the past taking the best player available at No. 2, regardless of position, is probably the right thing to do.
Hoyer remains concerned with the Cubs' offense, although they did have one strong offensive performance on Saturday night, accumulating 13 hits and five runs. The days before and after were a different story.
“Friday night was the most frustrated we’ve been,” he said. “Because we only saw 97 pitches the whole game. If you’re only going to see the starter, eighth-inning guy and closer, you’re going to have a hard time winning games. We have to see more pitches.”
Friday’s starter for Atlanta, Mike Minor, only threw 84 pitches in 7.1 innings.
“That’s a trend that goes back to last year and even 2010,” Hoyer said. “As a team we have to do a better job of getting on base, better job of grinding out our at-bats. Even an out can be productive if you see 5-7 pitches. Get into the middle relief.”
The hitting might be baffling to Hoyer but the pitching is not. Each starter once through the rotation -- save Scott Feldman -- had a decent outing. And Feldman was just one out away from surviving his start.
“We’ve been in every game this year,” Hoyer said. “That’s the beauty of having good starting pitching, hopefully we can continue that.”
And if injured starter Matt Garza can return sooner rather than later, the Cubs should be even better on the mound. He threw again on Sunday in Atlanta.
“Matt feels really good,’ Hoyer said. “He feels confident. We’re making positive steps. I don’t think we want to get ahead of ourselves yet but everything is positive.”