Cubs' scouting gurus convene with Draft on deck

Cubs' scouting gurus convene with Draft on deck

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' first pick in next week's MLB Draft won't be until No. 104 overall, coming in the third round and the second day, but that hasn't slowed the club's preparation. The Cubs' amateur scouts were scheduled to arrive in Chicago on Thursday for a week's worth of meetings.

"The lowest [pick] ever was 65th, with [Dustin] Pedroia in '04," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' director of scouting and player development, formerly a member of the Red Sox's front office. "[Picking 104th] doesn't change anything in terms of our preparation and how hard the guys have worked. For me, personally, I've actually seen more players this spring than I saw the last four years being here."

• Complete 2016 Draft coverage

In the past, McLeod would plan his pre-Draft trips to see a few players who might be first-round options. Of course, one never knows what a team can find in the later rounds. McLeod cited the Mets' Jacob deGrom, a ninth-round pick, as an example.

"I think there will be a focus on pitching, but we won't try to create it," McLeod said. "Day 1 will be interesting. Usually, I'm all suited up and I get to come out and talk about how excited we are about our first pick. This year, we might be sitting there in shorts and flip flops pulling names off the board.

"It'll give us the opportunity to prepare that evening for the next day," McLeod said. "Our mindset is to take it as a big challenge."

The 2016 Draft will take place from June 9-11, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at noon on Saturday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Worth noting

• Veteran catcher David Ross wears a wristband during games that's similar to something an NFL quarterback would wear to keep track of plays. Ross' device has a condensed scouting report on it that he can refer to in-game.

"Sometimes I have at least two pitches in my head that I want to call, and if I'm stuck in between and not sure, I can reference that," Ross said. "It's a big help for me."

It isn't that Ross forgets the scouting report, but having it handy helps reinforce his decision making.

"It helps me with the conviction of what I want to call," Ross said. "It's like, 'Man, I think I could go changeup away or fastball in,' and I look on there and changeup away is an option and fastball in isn't. That probably means he hits fastball in well, so they wouldn't put it in there as an option.

"It reassures me when I have doubt or I'm unsure about guys. It tells me how aggressive they are. It's very, very helpful."

Cubs catching coach Mike Borzello and advance scouting coordinator Tommy Hottovy help Ross put the data together.

• Speaking of catchers, Willson Contreras, ranked No. 2 on MLB.com's list of the Cubs' Top 30 Prospects, is continuing to impress at Triple-A Iowa.

Top Prospects: Contreras, CHC

"His last 12 months have been nothing short of really stellar," McLeod said of Contreras, who was the Cubs' Minor League Player of the Year last season. "He's still in that finishing phase in the Minor Leagues. It's a totally different ballgame when you come up here [to the big leagues]. You've got this pitching staff here and very high expectations for the guy sitting behind the plate.

"We're doing everything we can to prepare him for that time," McLeod said of Contreras. "We couldn't be happier with the work he's doing."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.