Cubs Draft Preview
By Jim Callis
Scouting Director: John Stockstill (first draft: 2001).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking third)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking second)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 21st)
Stockstill's drafts have gone much deeper than his initial picks, allowing Chicago to build one of the strongest farm systems in the game, with talent from top to bottom and prospects at every position save catcher. The Cubs haven't just thrown big bonuses around to find talent. They've made astute picks well beyond the first round.
Two years ago, after starting off with Prior, Chicago also found blue-chip prospects in Andy Sisco and Brendan Harris. Righthanders Ricky Nolasco and Sergio Mitre (seventh) added to the Cubs' impressive pitching depth.
Chicago took advantage of having 10 picks in the first four rounds last June. Lefthander Luke Hagerty looked like a steal at No. 32 overall until blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery this spring. The Cubs still added quality southpaws in Justin Jones and Rich Hill, not to mention several more righthanders in Chadd Blasko, Matt Clanton and Billy Petrick. First baseman Brian Dopirak had more raw power than any high school player in the draft. Several late-round picks also have shown promise, most notably righthander Jason Wylie (12th).
Seventeen of Stockstill's 26 picks (65 percent) in the first 10 rounds have come from four-year colleges, one of the higher ratios in the game. But that's been a product of how Chicago's draft board has stacked up rather than an overriding philosophy. Sisco, Nolasco, Mitre, Jones, Petrick and Dopirak all were high school products, while Clanton came from junior college. In general, the Cubs are going to take the best player available and have the money to sign him.
They don't have extra picks in 2003 and will give up their second-rounder as compensation for Mike Remlinger. But Chicago will get the opportunity to add a significant player at No. 6. The last five times the Cubs have had a top 10 selection, they have come away with Kerry Wood (1995), Jon Garland (1997), Corey Patterson (1998), Luis Montanez (2000) and Prior.
None of the teams picking ahead of them is known as a heavy spender in the draft, so Chicago could get a shot at any player who drops because of his perceived bonus demands. If he doesn't sign with the Orioles as a draft-and-follow, Chipola (Fla.) JC lefthander Adam Loewen could fall. He might cost $4 million or more, but the Cubs haven't been afraid to give big money to talented college pitchers.