Talking Shop with Tim Wilken

The 2006 draft is only a few weeks old, but Cubs Director of Scouting Tim Wilken is already making plans for the organization's wish list in 2007. In between, he has managed a couple of stops on the minor league circuit to evaluate some of the talent from previous Cub drafts. (Free preview of premium content.)

We caught up with Tim Wilken recently and got his thoughts on the following subjects.

On the 2006 draft:

"I've got a pretty good feeling about this thing. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out in the next four to six years. I'm excited to get these players out and let the evaluations begin.

"I have a slightly different draft philosophy in the sense that I like to take guys up the middle: shortstops, second basemen, center fielders, catchers. This draft wasn't real strong as far as middle infielders go, although we took a fair amount. A lot of guys, if they don't end up playing shortstop, they're good players who end up playing different positions. That's one reason why I've always taken a liking to shortstops. There have been a fair amount of middle infielders that ended up playing with a lot of different clubs and I think their value ends up being pretty darn wanted in trade situations."

On the 4-6 year development process:

"Some players are going to take longer to develop than others naturally, so that's why I say four to six years -- especially when you have some of the high school players and guys who are making possible position switches on down the road. As we can see through history, there have been some late developers in the draft. It sometimes takes that long and I think this draft leads credence to that because there weren't a lot of slam-dunk picks."

On Tyler Colvin's season ending in the College World Series:

"I think his contract will be done pretty soon, and I would say it would be done within the week or two."

On Jeff Samardzija:

"He's got a chance to be a front-line pitcher and top-of-the-order guy. He's got a very free and easy arm action; a very fast arm and a very coordinated delivery. He has a chance to have a solid to average slider, if not better. There's a lot of untapped promise there. He's very competitive and has a chance to be a power pitcher that could be a top of the rotation guy."

On the risk of drafting a two-sport athlete:

"It was a situation where we felt pretty good about our chances with Jeff. He's conveyed to us his desire to play baseball and is definitely not going into this half-assed. He's going into this with the intention of being a major league pitcher. He has those capabilities. We'll just see how it takes its course in the upcoming months and years. We knew about his football capabilities and we know he's a high profile guy for the NFL, but it wasn't something we were afraid of."

On how much of a role Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry played in drafting Samardzija:

"He'd gotten to meet with the family and with Jeff. He's naturally real good friends with [Notre Dame coach] Paul Mainieri, as I am. I'm sure that had some factor in our decision to take Jeff. At that point in the draft, it was my read to take Jeff. I felt that some clubs didn't think they could dabble into this. It was an 'eye of the beholder' decision, but Jim feels very solid about this situation with Jeff. Jeff is extremely serious about baseball and hopefully somewhere down the line, we'll make it a situation where it will be hard for him to not want to become a full-time Chicago Cub."

On other top-round selections:

"I'm excited to see what this (Josh) Lansford kid is going to do. I think he was a much better player later in the year. He swung the bat really well toward the end. Fielding-wise, he made some errors early in the year, but was playing well defensively the last month and a half. I'm excited to see what (Steve) Clevenger is going to do with the bat. I think he has a good chance to be a good hitter. All of our reports on (Billy) Muldowney have been good. It looks like we're also going to get (Cliff) Anderson signed pretty soon. I've seen (Jake) Renshaw pitch in the past and I like his stuff and the way he competes. Beyond that, we've got some pretty good players in the later rounds. I can't wait to see these guys get out of the woods a little. I know the first year you have to throw away sometimes, but I think some of these guys have a chance to really hit the ground running."

On ninth-round pick Cliff Anderson (OF, Cottonwood HS, Utah):

"He's a strongly built young man. He has good strength to his swing, but there's enough looseness to it that it's not a stiff swing. He's got a good approach at the plate and is going to have what I call 'big field' power from left-center to right-center. Our area guy there, Steve McFarland, is also our manager at Boise and has very good thoughts on him. Also, Sammy Hughes, our regional guy, got to see him. We brought him in for a workout in Mesa at the end of May when we were getting ready for our pre-draft meetings. He swung the bat well there and ran well. He's a very strong kid and defensively, he looks like he breaks on the ball well in the outfield. We're not sure yet whether he's going to play center or left, but I like his chances with the bat and I love his competitiveness. I wish I could have got to see him in a live game, but you have to go with what your scouts are saying and he seemed to be the right fit at that point in the draft."

On how much time he's had to look at players in the system and to grade the chips already in place:

"I like to generally spend 5-6 days with each club so I can see all of the starting pitchers and of course most of the every day players. I'm going to be doing that all summer. My emphasis is to work the organization and to see if I can contribute in terms of evaluations so that later on, it may achieve some viewpoint going into the 2007 draft as far as what our strengths and weaknesses are."

After watching Double-A West Tennessee:

"I was pretty impressed with some of the pitchers. I liked (Carlos) Vasquez, the reliever. Chris Shaver pitched a very good game the other day so I was pretty impressed with him. Scott Moore is playing tremendous defensively. He made a hell of a play the other night at third. And Chris Walker has been steady and hits well at the plate. These guys field and catch the ball very well. There are a lot of good players on this club."

On his plans for the rest of the summer:

"I'll be going to cool Mesa, Arizona for four or five days here pretty soon, and then to Cape Cod for several days to see some of the guys eligible for the '07 draft and to get our Christmas list going there. Right after that, I come home to Florida to see our Daytona club play against Clearwater."

After watching Rich Hill in Triple-A Iowa's series versus Omaha:

"The whole thing for Rich is command and control. The more he has of that and can keep the ball down in the zone like any other pitcher -- that's the whole key to his game. Naturally, his curveball is his best pitch and his strikeout pitch. He can pitch with that in the big leagues, but he's going to have to command that fastball. Hopefully, the next time he's up there, he'll have figured that out and his delivery will be more consistent. If he does, he'll have success in Chicago."

On Felix Pie:

"I've not had much time to see him, but the main thing is making sure he's leaving that bat in the strike zone longer and is staying on the ball better. He's definitely got some pop in that bat and has a chance to be a pretty good hitter."

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