By John Manuel
December 22, 2005
The Cubs lost a scouting director when John Stockstill left the organization to join his brother with the Orioles. But they gained one quickly when Tim Wilken, a 27-year scouting veteran, left the Devil Rays to take over the Cubs' scouting department.
“We are thrilled to have Tim join the organization," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said in a statement. "To add him to our staff at this time of his year with his track record is a real plus. He is considered in our industry to be one of the finer amateur scouts, and his track record for the Blue Jays speaks for itself.
“We also want to express our deep appreciation to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization for letting us both speak to and hire Tim at a point in the year when most clubs are working towards next season.”
Stockstill, whose brother Dave is the Orioles' farm director, became the Orioles' director of professional scouting. Wilken spent his first year with the Devil Rays, in 2003, and the last two of his 24 years with the Blue Jays organization doing professional coverage. But when the Rays had him do some amateur coverage in 2004, Wilken realized how much he missed that aspect of his job. He was in charge of the Rays' draft in 2005 and loved every minute of it.
"It felt like this job wasn't half as hard as it felt the last couple of years I did it in Toronto," Wilken said. "I realized in 2004 how much I had missed it, even when I kind of got burned out on it toward the end there with the Blue Jays."
Wilken's departure is the last major piece to leave the Rays' front office, though general manager Chuck LaMar and Cam Bonifay, his player development lieutenant, were fired after the season, while Wilken chose to leave. A replacement for Wilken had not been named. Wilken said he had to listen when the Cubs and Hendry, himself a former scouting director, beckoned.
"I was geared into being with the Devil Rays through 2006, and I felt we had a really good staff in Tampa, and I felt good about the three-regional system (of crosscheckers) that we had set up," said Wilken, who lives in Florida and will work from his home for the Cubs.
"Jim Hendry is a big-time factor, he knows what the grind is like having been a scouting director and has a real idea of what it entails. He's given me the autonomy to get done what the Chicago Cubs feel needs to get done."
Wilken's track record of getting things done in Toronto was impressive. As a crosschecker (1989-94) and as scouting director ('95-2000), he played a vital role in the Jays' streak of 12 straight first-round picks who reached the major leagues from 1988 (Ed Sprague) to 1999 (Alex Rios), with such impact players as Shannon Stewart, Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells in between.