|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|The Cubs really wanted California prep third baseman Josh Vitters and were thrilled when the Royals made a final-day decision to pass on him. He's one of the best hitters in the draft. Chicago has had trouble developing catchers, but they may finally have found one in Auburn's Josh Donaldson (supplemental first round).|
CHICAGO--One year after scouting director Tim Wilken went way outside the box to pick Tyler Colvin (ranked 170th by Baseball America) in the first round of the 2006 draft, the respected Cubs executive followed a more traditional road this year.
He used the third pick on the kid Baseball America thought was, well, the third best player in the draft--Cypress (Calif.) High third baseman Josh Vitters.
Whether he is picking the 170th kid or the third one, when Wilken takes someone he likes in the first round, it's usually wise to take notice. During his long tenure with the Blue Jays, Wilken was key in drafting 12 straight first-rounders who made it to the major leagues, including Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay, Shannon Stewart and Vernon Wells.
Wilken was pumped up to get Vitters.
"We're extremely happy to have Josh," Wilken said. "I've been fortunate enough to be around some good first-rounders in the past and I think he's got the capability to make it in the majors. If it happens in three years, four years, five years--I can't answer that question. But in my mind, he's going to be a front-line major league baseball player."
The righthanded Vitters hit .390 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 24 games this year and had an .890 slugging percentage despite missing some time at the start of the season because of pneumonia.
"I took off about two-and-a-half weeks and missed five games," Vitters said. "I came back probably a little bit too early because I wanted to help the team. It's hard watching the team play and not being out there. I played through it a little bit. It was worth it."
He thought that maybe the early-season illness would hurt his draft status a little but didn't dwell on it.
In 2006, he hit .352 with nine homers, 32 RBIs and won a ton of honors including the MVP of the Cape Cod Classic and was an Aflac all-American. He signed a letter-of-intent with Arizona State but now he said he hopes he can sign quickly with the Cubs and get a kick-start on his career.
Scouts love his swing and plate awareness. The only part of his game that receives criticism is his defense, but the Cubs believe there is plenty of time to get that under control.
It's been a great two years for the Vitters family. Last year, his older brother Christian was taken in the 10th round by the Athletics and currently plays for low Class A Kane County.
"A lot of my success I attribute to him," Josh said of Christian. "We always played whiffle ball in the front yard and stuff like that. We've played baseball for a lot of years together and along with my parents, he's played a big role in my success."
• After taking a high school player in the first round, the Cubs chose 10 straight college players before picking Ryan Acosta, a righthander from Clearwater Central Catholic High.
• The Cubs picked Virginia teammates Brandon Guyer (a right fielder) and Casey Lambert (a lefthanded reliever) back-to-back in the fifth and sixth rounds.