Epstein sees progress in the Cubs system

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' long-term player development plan appears to be on schedule. The new front office wrapped up its second amateur draft on Saturday and is also seeing good results come in throughout the minor league level.

The team’s No. 1 draft choice in 2010, Javier Baez, hit four home runs in a game on Monday night, sending positive shock waves throughout Cubs Nation.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein explained the next step for Baez or any prospect on his way up the minor league ladder.

“We ask players to execute their player development plan and that is how they get to the next level,” Epstein said.

“Incumbent in that is dominating the level of competition where you are at. A night like that (is great) if it’s part of a longer period and so far it has been this month. He has clearly dominated his competition which gets him closer to moving up. Any one night or any one game doesn’t change that. It is more of a progression pattern of play.”

It appears Cubs fans have locked into the minor league teams and players while blocking out some of the less-than-stellar play at Clark and Addison.

“You want to please your fans by putting a winning team on the field at the major league level,” Epstein said. “That is the most important thing. But I do think most real baseball fans do get excited about young players. Even ones that are still in the minor leagues. They like to follow them, see them improve a little bit before they become stars. Than they can root them on when they come up here, when they start their major league career at Wrigley.”

The Cubs stepped up their player development plan by drafting seven college pitchers in this year’s draft.

“I think there is a real wave of talent coming through our minor leagues that will be fun for our fans to watch,” Epstein said. “We hope they get to know them really well over a long period of time that includes many, many winning seasons.”

Epstein and his organization know that they don’t have a free pass when it comes to showing some meaningful progress every season.

“The average fan demands a winning product on the field ,” Epstein said. “That is what motivates us. This is not a grand experiment or anything like that. All we are trying to do is put winning teams on this field year in and year out to make our fans happy.”