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.)