During the 2016 Cubs Convention, Myrtle Beach Pelicans broadcaster Scott Kornberg sat down for a series of four interviews, with current members of the Cubs (Justin Grimm), the media (which includes our very own Brett Taylor, as well as Carrie Muskat) and members of the front office. On the latter, Kornberg was able to talk to Cubs Director of Player Development Jaron Madison – an important, if unheralded member of the Cubs team. You can listen to the full interview here, or check out a transcript on the CCO here. I’ve also captured the highlights below, along with some of my own thoughts.
- Madison believes the Cubs, and more specifically the scouting and player development arm, spend an exhaustive amount of time learning about who each one of their players is as a person. There’s a lot to be gained from scouting and statistical analysis, but Madison wants to know that each one of the players they draft and develop are going to be hard-working, dedicated individuals that have what it takes to be a pro player on and off the field.
- Because he came to the Cubs a year after Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, Madison didn’t need to change much of the infrastructure or processes of the player development program. The biggest thing to work on, at the time, was educating their scouts on the focuses of what the new Cubs were looking for.
- He spoke about preparing the Minor League system/development program differently for different types of players. Some polished, college hitters will rise fast (he mentions Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber) and require a different minor league experience than other, more toolsy/raw athletes.
- It has been particularly helpful to have Jason McLeod in charge of both Scouting and Player Development. In this manner, the Cubs have been targeting the types of players that better fit/suit their development strategy.
- One of the biggest challenges for young managers (in the minor leagues) is striking a balance between the desire to win (and the positive experience gained by winning) and the importance of player development. “We’re not going to sell out to win an individual game. The biggest thing we’re trying to do is develop our players.”
- Victor Caratini, the catcher the Cubs got in exchange for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio at the trade deadline in 2014, is someone who Madison feels broke out at the end of the year. He expects Caratini will continue to improve and become someone you hear a lot more about in 2016. Chesny Young and Mark Zagunis are also players that Madison feels are underrated and/or have bigger futures ahead of them.
- In terms of next season, Gleyber Torres is penciled in to be the starting shortstop for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans – a team that figures to have a young, but talented starting pitching staff, as well (Trevor Clifton, Jake Stinnett, etc…).
- On the merit of his bat alone, 2015 first round draft pick Ian Happ should start out with Myrtle Beach, but that might not be the actuality in 2016. Happ has committed to becoming a second baseman, and that might slow down his rise through the minor leagues a little bit. Given the Cubs’ current situation in the majors, a slow, thoughtful development should be just fine for the talented middle infielder.