Cubs' McLeod happy with this year's draft
Cubs scouting and player-development chief Jason McLeod emerged for some fresh air Thursday after spending Monday-Wednesday heading the team's efforts in the amateur draft.
McLeod gave his standard line.
"I know I say this every year," he said. "You're always happy the day after, in the immediacy after, but with having those extra picks we had this year, I thought we were really able to address what we thought were some organizational shortcomings, with some of the graduations to the major leagues and some of the players we've traded away the last couple of years."
The Cubs selected 42 players in 40 rounds, with two compensatory picks for losing free agents Wade Davis and Jake Arrieta.
McLeod called top pick, shortstop Nico Hoerner out of Stanford, someone akin to outfielder Albert Almora Jr., McLeod's first pick in 2012.
"He is a high-contact guy, and like Albert, he can barrel balls up all around the zone," McLeod said.
There are a couple of nice stories in the final two rounds. The Cubs took Wauconda High School's Pierson Gibbs in Round 39. Gibbs was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2016 and received the Charlie Donovan Memorial "Passion for the Game" award, which is given to an individual "who has exhibited passion for their craft within the game or business of baseball." The award is presented by the Chicago Scouts Association.
In the final round, they drafted infielder Itamar Steiner from Niles North High School. Steiner's father, filmmaker David Steiner, was killed in a bus crash in Uganda in 2016.
"You don't sign all 40 players that you're selecting," McLeod said. "A lot of times you're taking kids late in the draft just to build that relationship with them for when they end up in college. Those things will happen not every year."
Picking up steam:
First baseman Anthony Rizzo's homer in Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Phillies was his 10th of the year and second in two days. He now has 42 RBI. He also has 175 homers as a Cub, moving into 13th place in franchise history and surpassing Andre Dawson's 174 Cubs homers.
"I've felt good now for a little while," said Rizzo, who has 19 RBI in his last 18 games with an at-bat. "It's just a matter of staying with the routine, staying with the process. It's a game of 700 at-bats. You've always got to remember that."
One more day:
Shortstop Addison Russell tested his sore left middle finger Thursday morning by swinging the bat and taking grounders and throws. Russell hurt the finger swinging the bat this past Sunday at New York. If he is OK Friday, he may be able to come off the bench, but he's not likely to start against the Pirates until Saturday at the earliest.