5/30 Cubs prep for Monday’s Draft

Wednesday was day three of the Cubs amateur scouts discussions on who to pick in Monday’s First-Year Player Draft.

“It can get contentious in there as we start debating,” said Jason McLeod, director of scouting and player development. “It’s a great thing — we don’t want to agree all the time.”

The Cubs have the sixth pick overall plus two supplemental round selections. They will invite some players to Chicago to meet them face to face for interviews, which is something McLeod and Theo Epstein did with the Red Sox.

“Any time you make a selection, it’s a significant investment, not only in money but in the organization,” McLeod said. “You only get one chance per round. When you’re picking as high as we are this year, you want to be right, and feel good about that decision.”

McLeod said there seems to be a lot of depth in the high school pitching ranks this year and the Cubs want to improve the pitching in the system, but that doesn’t mean they will select a pitcher.

“Pitching will definitely be a focus in this draft,” he said. “It won’t be a need-based pick, especially with our first pick. It is something we’re going to try to address, it is a need for the organization. We’re not going to overdraft pitching because we need it — it’s got to fit the criteria we’re looking for. I’d be surprised if the Draft is over next week and we don’t feel good about the pitching we took.”

They are studying video, scouting reports, medical records and more. Scouting director Tim Wilken leads the player discussions and McLeod handles the framework of the meetings ongoing at the Cubs new offices. Who has the last word? Epstein.

What are the Cubs looking for?

“The buzz word we use is impact,” McLeod said. “That’s the direction we’ll go with that pick.”

He’s seen the Cubs farm system and recognizes there are needs.

“We definitely feel there’s a need for impact in the organization,” McLeod said. “One thing we know is we’re seeing it first-hand, you need power pitching, you need impact players to get into the post-season and go deep in the postseason. It takes a little bit of time to find those guys through different avenues whether it be trade, Major League free agency, the Draft and through the international market.”

This is prime time for McLeod and his scouts.

“Every Draft is our Super Bowl,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

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