Longtime Cubs scout Zielinski dies at 64

Longtime Cubs scout Zielinski dies at 64

CHICAGO -- Stan Zielinski, a scout for 38 years who helped the Cubs draft and sign Kyle Schwarber and Jeff Samardzija, among others, died in his sleep overnight at his home in Winfield, Ill. He was 64.

Zielinski started worked for the Cubs in 2001, and he was named the team's scout of the year in January 2016. He was inducted into the Midwest Scouts Association Hall of Fame on Dec. 10.

"Stan was an incredible scout and an unfailingly kind person," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement on Thursday. "For many of us, working closely with Stan was a highlight of being with the Cubs. He has been a big part of the heart and soul of the Cubs' scouting staff for more than 15 years; without Stan we certainly would not have won the World Series. The impact he made on this organization and his co-workers will continue to live on.

"Together we grieve his loss, and we extend our deepest condolences to Stan's wife Holly, his children Zach and Anna, the entire Zielinski family, and Stan's many friends and colleagues."

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An area scout who covered Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Zielinski was high on Schwarber, who had been drawing attention from schools because of his football skills.

"Stan was as convicted as I've ever heard him talking about this player, and this person, and how it aligned with our philosophy moving forward," amateur scouting director Matt Dorey said of Zielinski in an interview in June 2015.

On Thursday, Schwarber paid his respects on Twitter: "My condolences go out to the Zielinski family. Stan was the scout who drafted me. Baseball lost a great person."

Zielinski grew up in Chicago and attended Loyola Academy. He played baseball at St. Mary's College in Winona, Minn., but he chose golf over baseball at first. According to a June 2009 story in the Chicago Tribune, Zielinski was an assistant golf pro in Phoenix when he met White Sox scout Bill Kimball. The two went to college games, and Zielinski always had an opinion about the players. Kimball recommended Zielinski to the White Sox for a job as a part-time scout in the Chicago area in 1979.

Gary Hughes was the Expos' scouting director when he hired Zielinski to a full-time job, and Zielinski then joined the Marlins' scouting department before coming to the Cubs. Among the players he discovered were outfielder Cliff Floyd and left-handed pitcher Kirk Reuter.

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.