Cubs Draft Preview: “It’s a fun time for the organization” originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Cub Scouts were back in the draft room this week, discussing the players and making a plan for this weekend.
“Everyone was thirsty enough to do this,” Cubs vice president of recruiting Dan Kantrovitz said. “Not just the Boy Scouts, but I think the whole front office. “It’s a fun time for the organization.
This year’s draft isn’t quite what MLB scouting departments are used to. It is only 20 rounds and is taking place for the first time outside of June. But the three-day event, starting Sunday, is much closer to par than last year’s five-round affair. And last year was also Kantrowitz’s first draft with the Bear cubs.
“This is the first time we’ve brought our entire screening department together since last January,” Kantrowitz said this week, “so it’s really starting to feel real.”
As the Cubs move into a new era – Javy Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are all in contract years, and an 11-game losing streak has made the Cubs likely to become sellers at maturity – this draft becomes as important as any other to set up the next cycle for extended success.
“The top draft teams stack a good pick and a good decision on top of another year after year,” said Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer. “I think if you do that you end up with a really good system.”
Kantrovitz believes in choosing the best player available, rather than drafting according to need. This applies whether the big league team is in the middle of a championship window or under reconstruction. So the fact that the Cubs are in a transition period doesn’t affect his approach to this draft.
“At the end of the day, you want to get the most valuable assets possible,” Kantrovitz said. “And if that ends up not fitting from a position point of view, there is always the possibility that you can trade that asset.”
Exerting more influence on the Cubs’ selection board are the ripple effects of last year draft modified by pandemic. With just five rounds, some undrafted players signed with teams as free agents, but others stayed in school.
“There are definitely more college players this year that we’re looking at who are over 22 (years old), for example,” Kantrowitz said. “In the past, there weren’t a lot of guys in our draft who were 23 or 24.”
The in-person screening process returned to normal this spring, with the return of baseball to high school and college – as well as the addition of the very first MLB Draft combine. But the Cubs borrowed at least one method from last year’s process: Zoom interviews.
“It’s just not practical or possible for all of our scouts to meet with every player in person,” Kantrovitz said. “The tool to meet these players on Zoom is one that will probably be with us in the long term.”
This year, the Cubs have the No. 21 pick in the first round. In Denver, where the draft will run alongside All-Star events, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is expected to be the Cubs representative.