When Jed Hoyer joined Theo Epstein in the Chicago Cubs’ front office late last year, he brought along with him from the Padres a dude about whom we were supposed to be excited.

We didn’t really have the same kind of first-hand knowledge of the dude’s exploits as we did about Epstein and, to a lesser extent, Hoyer. But we were told that the dude was aces, and, given the ferver of the time, we bought in. The dude had run many of the Red Sox’s drafts under Epstein, and had run a couple great ones with the Padres. Why wouldn’t we be stoked about landing the dude coming in to be the Cubs’ top scouting dog?

The dude was Jason McLeod, and the excitement, from what we’ve seen so far, was justified. Phil Rogers has a long, good write-up on McLeod, and it’s worth a read.

A notable excerpt, about McLeod’s daily duties since coming to the Cubs, and on his position on drafting pitchers:

On most mornings, one of the first things McLeod does is download the video sent overnight from his scouts in the field. It’s part of the process of getting more familiar with the best players who are eligible for the three-day draft, which Epstein believes are the most critical days of the baseball year.

“In Boston, we gave every one of our scouts a camera, and we’re doing it here,” McLeod said. “I’m not sure how many teams do that. In addition to the reports the guys file off every outing, we can watch the video. It gives us another piece that helps put the puzzle together.”

McLeod was a pitcher himself, good enough to be a 44th-round draft pick by the Astros. When it comes to evaluating pitchers, he holds certain truths to be self-evident.

For now, McLeod is at the early part of the process, where he’s red-flagging guys whose bodies or deliveries suggest future arm surgeries or difficulty handling a professional workload.

“I’m a stickler for certain things with pitchers,” he said. “If I see something that makes me think someone is an injury risk or unlikely to be a long-term pitcher, we eliminate them. It focuses us, saves everybody time.”

The article focuses heavily on McLeod’s preparation for the June Draft, which preparation sounds like it is very much already at a feverish pace.

McLeod already had a leg up on acquiring Cubs fans’ good graces by virtue of being Epstein and Hoyer’s pick of the litter for the Scouting Chief gig (technically, his title is Senior VP of Scouting and Player Development – I like mine better). And, of course, a good first Draft will put him over the top. But, until then, he’s already sounding like a good dude to me.

(Also, I briefly met McLeod at the Cubs Convention, and, per expectations, he was a cool dude.)

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    And, at least for 2012 and possibly beyond, the Cubs still have Wilken, who isn’t so bad at the draft in his own right (particularly when he has a decent budget to work with). ┬áThe Cubs should have one of the best war rooms for this summer’s draft.

  • Ron

    Clay Buckholtz…I wonder if there were any red flags about potential injury there.

    • DocWimsey

      Spinal stress fractures are pretty uncommon, so I doubt that any “red flags” even are known. (His other major DL stint was due to a torn fingernail: a better manicurist was the answer three!)

    • FromFenwayPahk

      Ron, I was just thinking this same thing as I read this! Weird. I watched Buchholtz pitch yesterday and his delivery looks strange(r). There is some extra lower body twisting in the follow through that I don’t remember from his no hitter for example. I’d love to compare his motion from pre-draft days to his early coaching up as a pro to this.

      I’d bet that just as there are some red flags, there are some yellow flags. “We want him, but we must correct motion X” (Buchholtz was always a reclamation project in a couple ways.) Who do the Cubs have today (or tomorrow) that has this kind of hidden value?

      • DocWimsey

        That might be to compensate for the stress fractures in his lower back.

  • JB88

    Reasonably, how long can the Cubs expect to hang onto McLeod before someone names him a GM?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I had that thought, too – thing is, although McLeod is probably GREAT, there are actually quite a few McLeods in baseball, and only so many GM openings (Jeff Luhnow was the most recent graduate, going to the Astros as GM from the Cards). If things go well for the Cubs in the next few years, you gotta figure he’ll get some consideration. Of course, we don’t know – maybe he doesn’t want to be a GM.

  • Kyle

    This is the sort of story that gives me shivers as a Cubs fan. The Epstein hire was nice, though we paid through the nose for him. I wondered at the time if he was really worth that premium, given the number of available executives out there.

    But when we started attracting guys like Hoyer and McLeod, I realized the answer was an unequivocal “yes, Epstein is worth it.” The chance to get guys like this into the organization is invaluable.

  • Steve

    For so long, the Cubs have botched the top picks. We are @ #6 this year and of course it’s a weak class. i was salivating over last years group and we were JUST outside of getting the prime rib of the draft. I wanted Bundy, Starling, or Bradley so dang bad.
    That being said, its the later rounds that net the real prizes.
    I feel very good about having Mcleod leading us moving forward.

  • eporter34

    So does this mean that he would automatically eliminate anyone in the future who has a Tim Lincecum type of delivery? And if so, do the Cubs miss out on the next possible Tim Lincecum just because of a funky delivery?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Eh, I’m not sure we can say for certain what his criteria is (inverted W, or whatever). In fact, I’d hope he keeps it a secret.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        I still don’t understand why more youth coaches don’t look at Greg Maddux’s delivery, show video of it and tell the kids: “Here is one of the best pitchers ever who had very little injury problems. See this delivery, love this delivery, live this delivery, become this delivery.” Or at the very least, show Mark Prior’s delivery and after every pitch, stick their nose in some poop and say, BAD PITCHER, BAD.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I don’t think the Cubs are going to steer away from unusual deliveries entirely. ┬áDillon Maples was taken before the new front office arrived, but I’ve seen a few reports that they Cubs… meaning the new front office… have no plans to change his somewhat unorthodox delivery.

    • OlderStyle

      or Dontrelle Willis? oh, wait.

  • Swaz46


    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


    • ferrets_bueller


  • http://bleachernation.com DL HUYCK

    I think McLeod will want to make a splash in the 1st Rd. I say the Cubs take the player with the best upside availiable. Hopefully a power bat preferrably Left handed that can play defense. Middle infield or outfield are possibilities.

    • ferrets_bueller

      They’ll take either the best player available pitching-wise, or the best position player available who has some plate discipline. This FO drafts hitters with good approaches almost exclusively…so if there was, say, a Corey Patterson, or Drew Stubbs…they’d probably leave him on the board.