Cubs' scouting gurus in heated debate over draft
It's getting to be crunch time in the Cubs' draft war room.
"Here in Chicago, we've got 20 guys in the room," said Jason McLeod, senior vice president for scouting and player development. "The days are long. It can get contentious in there when we start debating players. That's a great thing. We want debate. We don't want everyone to agree all the time.
"We're on Day 3 right now. We've had two pretty productive days of meetings so far."
Baseball's amateur draft is Monday, and the Cubs pick sixth overall and have four picks in the first 67 -- including compensatory picks for losing free agents Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.
The Cubs' system needs pitching, which McLeod acknowledged, but he said another word is more important.
"The buzz word we use is 'impact' and who is going to provide the best impact for the organization, and that's the direction we're going to be going in," he said. "We definitely feel there's a need for impact in the organization. The one thing we know, and when you get to see it first hand, is you need power pitching. You need impact players to get into the postseason and go deep into the postseason."
Last season, the Cubs took high school shortstop Javier Baez in the first round, and he recently joined the organization's Class A Peoria team. The Cubs like another high school shortstop this year in Carlos Correa, but he may not be there at the sixth selection. The team worked out both Correa and left-handed pitcher Max Fried at Wrigley Field on Wednesday as they continue to get first-hand looks at many potential picks.
"Pitching will definitely be a focus in this draft," McLeod said. "It's not going to be a need-based pick, especially that first pick, but once we get past the first pick, and it could be pitcher, it might not be a pitcher. But it is something we are certainly going to try to address. It is a need for the organization.
"We're not going to overdraft pitching just because we need it. It's got to fit the criteria we're looking for in the draft. I'd be real surprised if the draft is over and we didn't feel really good about the pitching that we took in this draft."
This will be an important draft for the new Cubs management team, which has stated as its goal to build from within. Tim Wilken ran the previous six drafts for the Cubs, and he is still on board as director of amateur and professional scouting.
McLeod gave Wilken his due.
"Oh, it's incredible," McLeod said. "Timmy's pretty much leading the player-to-player discussions. He sees everybody. I think of myself as leading the structure and framework of the meetings and trying to get us all in the right direction of what we're trying to do. Timmy's experience, not only scouting, but with the staff, he knows how our scouts think. It's just been invaluable to us."