Cubs enjoying new affiliate being close by

Cubs enjoying new affiliate being close by

Cubs enjoying new affiliate being close by

CHICAGO -- The affiliation between Class A Kane County and the Cubs is four months of game action in, and so far it seems to be a happy marriage.

The Cougars play in Geneva, Ill., about 50 miles west of Wrigley Field.

"Yeah, it's great having it so close," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said on Friday. "When it really sinks in is when you see the Kane County players on an off-day coming into Wrigley and taking it in and watching [batting practice] and chatting up the big league players. That makes me feel great."

Kane County competes in the Midwest League and hasn't had a successful season record-wise. The Cougars went 30-36 in the first half to finish in sixth place in the Western Division, and they entered Friday in last place at 13-25.

Although Epstein said he'd like to field winning Minor League teams, the most important part of a farm system is player development. He hopes, however, to eventually field winning teams at all levels of the Cubs' system.

"Ultimately development comes first at the Minor League level, winning isn't [the priority]," Epstein said. "So we'd love to reward our affiliates with winning teams all the time, but it's not always going to happen, especially with this phase where we are and some players being really young for their level."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.