6/4 First-year player Draft notes
Two of Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken’s No. 1 Draft picks are now on the Major League team in Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin. Wilken was the Blue Jays scouting director in 1995 when the team chose Colorado high schooler Roy Halladay. Keep the following story in mind as the Cubs head into next week’s First-Year Player Draft, which begins Monday:
Wilken watched Halladay play high school games in Arvada, Colo., and said: “You could see he was a good competitor. You could see he was a pretty strong young man.”
Halladay went to the Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin, Fla., shortly after he signed. It was early July.
“There was a pitching coach there who said, ‘He looks awfully pale,'” Wilken said. “‘If I start running him foul line to foul line, he’s going to die in this Florida heat.’
“I put $20 down on the bench and said, ‘Who’s your best runner?'” Wilken said. “He said it was this Dominican kid. So they run, and after four pole-to-pole sprints, the Dominican kid broke down and goes on one knee and is gasping for air. Halladay is still running and just drills him into the ground, running-wise.
“I picked my $20 up and said, ‘Never judge a book by its cover,'” Wilken said. “‘And, by the way, [Halladay] finished third in Colorado in cross country in high school.’ The stamina and durability, you don’t always see that with a high school kid. He had a fast arm. You hear that he has good work ethic. You never know it until you sign him and get him into pro ball and then you really find out how dedicated he is to the sport.
“It also showed you how sometimes players get better through perseverence. He had a hiccup in Toronto and was sent back to ‘A’ ball. Roy never said a word about it. [Pitching coach] Mel Queen gave him a new arm slot and from that day on, you knew what Roy Halladay was all about.”
* The Cubs have the 16th pick in the first round of the Draft, which will be held over three days and begins Monday, with MLB.com offering live coverage and analysis of the entire Draft. The first round and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, beginning with the Draft preview show at 5 p.m. CT.
– Carrie Muskat