Draft Preview - Chicago Cubs

Here is the twelfth part in my series, this time focusing on the Chicago Cubs and their scouting director Tim Wilken.

Owner: Tribune Company, bought club in 1981
General Manager: Jim Hendry, promoted in July 2002
Scouting Director: Tim Wilken, first draft was 2006

Looking Back

2006 Draft: $5.0 Million Budget

1. Tyler Colvin, OF, Clemson, #13 overall: In Tim Wilken's first draft, the Cubs decided to reach for an athletic outfielder in the first round, despite the fact that they didn't pick again until the fifth round. Colvin wasn't even really considered a strong first round prospect, making his pick at #13 questionable. Following players selected: Travis Snider, Chris Marrero, Jeremy Jeffress. Signing bonus: $1.475 million.
2. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Notre Dame, #149 overall: This choice could be seen from a mile away, as the Cubs were the main candidates to choose Samardzija and make an attempt to lure him away from football. He was a borderline first round talent, making this gamble quite solid. Following players selected: Luke Hopkins, Cory Van Allen, Chris Errecart. Signing bonus: $1 million, signed Major League contract later.
3. Josh Lansford, 3B, Cal Poly, #179 overall: Lansford had good baseball blood and was signable, making him an attractive choice here. He was expected to go somewhere in this general area. Following players selected: Brian Jeroloman, Zech Zinicola, Brae Wright. Signing bonus: $155,000.
4. Steve Clevenger, SS, Chipola JC (FL), #209 overall: A solid hitter, Clevenger was expected to go somewhere in this range to someone who believed he might develop a little power. Normal seventh round pick. Following players selected: John Baksh, Sam Brown, Andy Bouchie. Signing bonus: $130,000.
5. Billy Muldowney, RHP, Pittsburgh, #239 overall:
A pitchability college righty with little projection, Muldowney was chosen as a relatively safe pick. Some saw him as a future reliever, despite his starting success at Pitt. Following players selected: Dan O'Brien, Sean Rooney, Shane Hill. Signing bonus: $98,500.
Other Notable Selections:
RHP Chris Huseby (11th), Martin County HS (FL), $1.3 million bonus (overslot); OF Drew Rundle (14th), Bend HS (OR), $500K bonus (overslot); C Blake Parker (16th), Arkansas; 3B Jovan Rosa (22nd), Lake City CC (FL), $180K bonus (overslot)

2007 Draft: $6.1 Million Budget

1. Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress HS (CA), #3 overall: Vitters was a hot prospect from start to finish during his senior year, making him an easy choice in the top five. This was a solid pick by the Cubs' management. Following players selected: Daniel Moskos, Matt Wieters, Ross Detwiler. Signing bonus: $3.2 million.
2. Josh Donaldson, C, Auburn, #48 overall: Expected to go somewhere in this range, Donaldson was a solid hitting catcher. He was relatively new to the catching position, but there were few that doubted he'd stick back there. Following players selected: Michael Burgess, Wes Roemer, Charlie Culberson. Signing bonus: $652,500.
3. Tony Thomas, 2B, Florida State, #97 overall: Thomas was a huge surprise during his junior year at Florida State, coming out of nowhere to become a top 100 pick. This was about where he was expected to go, making this a solid choice. Following players selected: Brian Friday, Eric Niesen, Steven Souza. Signing bonus: $360,000.
4. Darwin Barney, SS, Oregon State, #127 overall: Barney was overdrafted here by a couple of rounds, as most teams thought little of him both defensively and offensively. His approach left something to be desired. Following players selected: Quincy Latimore, Tim Bascom, Derek Norris. Signing bonus: $222,750.
5. Brandon Guyer, OF, Virginia, #157 overall: Guyer was an infielder at Virginia, but the Cubs drafted him as an outfielder. He was expected to go somewhere in this range as a speedy kid with a decent hit tool. Following players selected: Andrew Walker, Jake Arrieta, Brad Meyers. Signing bonus: $148,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Ty Wright (7th), Oklahoma State, $42K bonus; 3B Marquez Smith (8th), Clemson, $30K bonus

2008 Draft: $5.5 Million Budget

1. Andrew Cashner, RHP, TCU, #19 overall: Cashner had the best pure fastball in the draft a year ago, having been a reliever in college. However, the Cubs drafted him as a starter, and he was expected to go around here somewhere. Following players selected: Josh Fields, Ryan Perry, Reese Havens. Signing bonus: $1.54 million.
2. Ryan Flaherty, SS, Vanderbilt, #41 overall: A high-character hitting machine at Vanderbilt, Flaherty was expected to go somewhere in the second round, making this a slight overdraft. However, his hit tool was that good. Following players selected: Jaff Decker, Wade Miley, Jeremy Bleich. Signing bonus: $906,000.
3. Aaron Shafer, RHP, Wichita State, #65 overall: A pitcher with a huge arm, Shafer was considered a first round prospect before getting hurt his sophomore year. He never regained that status, but was expected to be a second round pick. Following players selected: Dennis Raben, Cody Satterwhite, Javier Rodriguez. Signing bonus: $625,000.
4. Chris Carpenter, RHP, Kent State, #97 overall: Carpenter was also a first round prospect once upon a time, and injuries got in the way. Drafted twice before, this was actually about a round below where he was expected to go. Following players selected: Aaron Pribanic, Scott Green, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Signing bonus: $385,000.
5. Matt Cerda, SS, Oceanside HS (CA), #131 overall: Cerda was an overdraft by a few rounds, as his small stature and lack of athletic tools made him an undesirable. However, the Cubs believed in his bat. Following players selected: Steven Hensley, Brett Jacobson, Sean Ratliff. Signing bonus: $500,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Jay Jackson (9th), Furman, $90K bonus; SS Logan Watkins (21st), Goddard HS (KS), $500K bonus (overslot)

Those are the three drafts run by Tim Wilken since joining the Cubs from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Wilken also has eight years of experience in the Blue Jays' front office, including five years as scouting director there from 1996-2000 before being promoted to Assistant GM and VP for the 2001 season. In general, Wilken has been a man recruited by many front offices for his player evaluation talent, and he generally has the ear of his general manager. That's good freedom for a scouting director. Looking at his drafts, Wilken seems kind of run of the mill in terms of getting value at his picks. He generally sticks to perceived draft value, and while he rarely picks a player that has slided to him in lower rounds, he also rarely overdrafts players, as well. Jeff Samardzija represents an obvious exception, but there was definite Jim Hendry fingerprints all over that pick. In general, Wilken loves his college players in the early rounds. First round picks are generally made by a scouting director and general manager consensus, though I don't think Wilken would have picked anyone other than Vitters had he had complete control himself. Wilken does a good job of mixing hitters and pitchers, and he was able to add two good arms after the first round a year ago, though they came with checkered injury histories. Getting Ryan Flaherty in there meant a solid group of hitting and pitching, though I didn't particularly like the Cerda selection, which was a little off from his normal drafting routine. Besides the obvious Notre Dame connection there is with the Cubs, Wilken doesn't show any particular geographical trend when choosing college players, as he's done major programs, mid-majors, and JUCO players. So it's pretty hard to simply predict which player Wilken might like, other than the fact that they'll likely be from college. Overall, he's done a nice, solid job in the drafts, with little splashes on the good or bad side.

As for draft budgeting, the Cubs have been fairly middle of the road in general. The slight 2007 bump is due to a higher first round selection, which skews the overall budgeting amount by the greatest margin of any other pick differences. The Cubs own pick numbers 31, 79, 109, 140, and every 30 after that, so basically no extra and no less picks than is regularly allotted. Using slotting from a year ago, the first five rounds with these picks would cost $2.269 million, and since slots are being brought down 10%, that would mean the Cubs' slots for the first five rounds would equal roughly $2 million. That low number probably means that the Cubs will reach a little in those rounds or later, meaning they might be a candidate to bust slots a few times. I'd wager that their final budget is again in the $5 million range, making them prime candidates to reach overnight deals between the first and second days of the draft next week. The ripple could mean a nice infusion of higher-ceiling talent into a relatively low-ceiling system. Their payroll is the highest ever, but I don't think that will greatly affect how they spend in the draft, as the difference between $2 and $5 million is negligible for good players. Keep an eye on some picks that they might make that might be considered questionable due to signability issues, as they could surprise by signing them anyway with a little extra money.

Connecting the Cubs to specific players, I've seen some info that they're hard after Indiana righty Eric Arnett, who might not be there when they pick. I do have Arnett falling in my latest mock, but that's far from a guarantee. They'd also love to get Notre Dame's AJ Pollock for obvious reasons, but the interesting news is that they might like some prep pitchers such as a Matt Hobgood, Garrett Gould, or Chad James. Matt Purke might also be an option to a lesser extent, if he falls. Athletic outfielders such as Brett Jackson, Tim Wheeler, and Jared Mitchell could also enter the equation. Looking beyond that, I've connected them most recently to Chris Dwyer of Clemson and Jeremy Hezelbaker of Ball State, and others like Derek McCallum of Minnesota, Ryan Jackson of Miami, David Hale of Princeton, and Jason Stoffel of Arizona might be good options. Matt den Dekker is probably on their radar, too. In general, there are a good number of solid, yet unspectacular college players in this class. Keep this in mind, though. Kentrail Davis, who would fit their philosophy, is a Scott Boras client, and he doesn't get along with the Cubs, so scratch him off the list. A JUCO player might pop up, mainly Jabari Blash, but don't count on it.

All bonus information came from BA, and writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG. Go to their sites for draft coverage. They’re awesome.

What do you guys think? What do the Cubs do?

Previous Draft Previews:

Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles
Colorado Rockies
Chicago White Sox
Washington Nationals
Los Angeles Angels

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