From amateur scouting to player development to the research and development department, 26-year-old third baseman David Bote is a billboard for what the Cubs aspire to be.
While most of the organization’s recent success revolves around top 10 draft picks, shrewd trades and the $155 million investment in Jon Lester, the Cubs take a lot of pride in Bote, an 18th-round pick in 2012, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein’s first draft in Chicago.
Rick Schroeder, a longtime scout who was dismissed by the end of that season, lobbied for Bote, who couldn’t stick as a Division I walk-on at Liberty before transferring to Neosho County (Kan.) JC.
At a time when the Cubs were bursting with position-player prospects, Bote didn’t reach Double-A for good until 2017, his sixth pro season.
The analytics wing of the front office noticed Bote’s eye-popping exit velocity and saw big league potential. As the son of a high school coach who won multiple state titles in Colorado, Bote was willing to adjust and open to working with the organization’s hitting instructors.
All that history combined with Bote’s desire to take care of his young family led to the five-year, $15 million extension the Cubs announced within the first week of this season.
As Epstein said: “It’s really cool for our minor league guys who are grinding away to see that someone who had never even really locked down everyday at-bats in the minor leagues as of a couple years ago can play his way into being able to secure a long-term deal.”
Club options could keep Bote in Chicago through 2026.
“His work ethic and his desire to get better are really reassuring for us to make a commitment like this,” Epstein said.
In terms of Bote’s floor, the Cubs believe they have a plus defender who can move all over the infield and a righthanded hitter who can crush lefthanders. But the Cubs also hope there are more chapters left in this unbelievable story.
“Everything I do is continual,” Bote said. “It should get mundane. Success is mundane. Success is doing the same things over and over and over. It’s not going to be flashy. It’s continual effort every day.”
— After buying out his UCLA commitment for $1.2 million, the Cubs aggressively assigned outfielder Cole Roederer to low Class A South Bend, expecting that the 2018 second-rounder will be a fast learner at the age of 19.
“We were on the fence whether we were going to send him to South Bend or keep him in extended (spring training) for a while,” farm director Jaron Madison said. “He just played his butt off and earned a chance to go there and break with the club. We feel really good about his presence in the box and the professional at-bat that he’s going to give those guys.
“His ability to control the zone was kind of the separator, because we know he’s not going to expand the zone or just swing at anything. That makes you feel more comfortable that he’s going to put together a good season.”
— The Cubs believe Miguel Amaya, who turned 20 last month, has a chance to develop into one of the industry’s top-50 prospects this summer at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach. The young catcher from Panama spent almost his entire offseason at the team’s Arizona complex, getting bigger and stronger with the idea of avoiding the second-half drop-off he experienced after last year’s All-Star Futures Game.
Patrick Mooney is a senior writer for The Athletic Chicago