Wilken has been in scouting for 28 years, including 24 with the Toronto Blue Jays, for whom he served as an area scout, Minor League coach and manager, national cross-checker, scouting director, director of U.S. scouting and vice president of baseball operations.
Wilken contributed to the Blue Jays' signing and developing players including Casey Blake, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Delgado, Ryan Freel, Jay Gibbons, Shawn Green, Roy Halladay, Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Steve Karsay, Jimmy Key, Alex Rios, Shannon Stewart, Vernon Wells, Craig Wilson and Michael Young. Eleven of his first-round picks with the Blue Jays reached the big leagues.
In 1980, Wilken coached Toronto's Pioneer League affiliate, and coached and managed its Gulf Coast League affiliate in 1981.
After his promotion to national cross-checker in 1989, the Blue Jays draft was ranked in the top five each year, producing four Rawlings Gold Glove winners and two Cy Young Award winners. In 2003, Toronto was named Baseball America's Organization of the Year.
Wilken served as a special assistant to the general manager for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for three years starting in 2003 before joining the Cubs in the winter of 2005.
This past June was Wilken's first draft for the Cubs, and he picked Clemson's Tyler Colvin in the first round (13th overall). Baseball America tabbed Colvin as the Northwest League Player of the Year after he batted .268 in 64 games with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs. Colvin went 5-for-5 on July 27, falling a homer shy of the cycle. In the month of July he hit .314.
Colvin wasn't ranked that high in the pre-draft scouting reports. Wilken said he likes to target middle infielders because they're generally the best athletes available.
"There are some situations that dictate [you take the best player available] but you can't always do that," Wilken said earlier this year. "There might be a player who you say is the best player but the guy's signability might have something to do with that. To say you're taking the best player is good in thought."
The Scout of the Year Program was founded by scouts Tony Pacheco, Jim Russo and Hugh Alexander in 1984. The first year only one scout was honored, Howie Haak of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1985, long-time baseball executive Larry Himes became involved in developing the award and expanded the award to three recipients each year, one from each region of the country.
Each year, the scouting directors from each organization submit names of active scouting personnel who have accumulated 25 years of experience in a full-time scouting capacity to be eligible for the Scout of the Year Award.
In August the list of nominees is sent to every Major League Scout. They may vote only for nominees in their region. Wilken and the two other recipients will be honored at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.