Draft updates and the Wilken factor

Draft updates and the Wilken factor

Posted by Bruce on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 23:44
Shortstops and pitchers were the order of Day 1 of the draft for the Cubs. They went with right-hander Andrew Cashner out of TCU with the 19th pick overall, and scouting director Tim Wilken gushed about how Cashner had put on some good weight since the Cubs drafted him last year out of junior college. Cashner opted not to sign back then, instead heading to TCU, where he had 9 saves this year. The Cubs got a pick between the first and second rounds for having lost free agent Jason Kendall to the Brewers in free agency. They used that pick to take shortstop Ryan Flaherty, a power-hitting shortstop out of Vanderbilt. Flaherty may move to third in pro ball. After that, the Cubs chose right-handed pitcher Aaron Shafer out of Wichita State, righty Christopher Carpenter out of Kent State (Steve Stone's school), shortstop Matthew Cerda out of Oceanside (Calif.) High School, righy Justin Bristow out of East Carolina University and infielder Josh Harrison out of the University of Cincinnati. Both Flaherty and Cerda are left-handed batters. This was Wilken's third draft for the Cubs after 25 fruitful years with the Blue Jays and a stint with Tampa Bay. The thing I like about Wilken is that he doesn't care what I think, he doesn't care what you think and he doesn't care what Baseball America magazine thinks. He drafts the guys he and his people feel will develop best for the big club. Wilken made big waves two years ago when he took outfielder Tyler Colvin and pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The jury is still out on both players, with Colvin needing to improve his on-base ability and Samardzija still needing to adjust to pro baseball after playing football and baseball at Notre Dame. Last year, Wilken took third baseman Josh Vitters third overall. Vitters has been bothered by a hand injury this year. Not that Wilken is arrogant or anything like that. I find him plain-spoken and honest, and he does have a track record on which to run. You never know about drafts until a few years down the road, and it's the mid- to late rounds that can make or break you. So keep an eye on Wilken picks such as infielder Steve Clevenger, infielder Josh Lansford, lefty James Russell and outfielder Drew Rundle. It's always fun on draft day with Tim because he doesn't hide his feelings or give you the same old lines about being surprised that a guy "fell" to the Cubs at a certain pick. You get a sense that he really believes in the picks. Let's see how it plays out.
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