If you were looking for someone with decision-making authority on the baseball side in the Chicago Cubs’ organization yesterday, you were going to have to go somewhere other than Chicago (or Pittsburgh).
President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod, and Amateur Scouting Director Jaron Madison were all at the University of Oklahoma yesterday to meet with prospective first round pick Jonathan Gray, per Cubs.com. The big Sooner pitcher could be the number one or number two pick in this year’s draft, which begins June 6, and very few believe there’s even a chance he slips to number three. That’s obviously important to the Cubs, since they pick second.
In that regard, to find the Cubs visiting Gray with the top men in the front office should be no surprise. It doesn’t mean the Cubs are putting the full-court press on Gray – pre-Draft deals are not permitted (technically) – or that they expect he’ll necessarily be their pick. Instead, I’d imagine that they’re doing the final stages of due diligence on a guy that could legitimately be their pick. Indeed, I’d expect similar visits to Stanford righty Mark Appel, and maybe San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
The Cubs’ number two overall pick of is of critical import to the long-term rebuilding process, and they can’t afford to whiff. To that end, they’re going to make sure they know everything they possibly can about any player they consider selecting.
That said, the fact that the Cubs are making this kind of visit to see Gray this close to the Draft confirms that he could be the guy, if he’s still on the board at number two. Not that the Cubs’ interest at this point was a secret or in doubt.