Cubs Optimistic on Vitters Front

The August 15 deadline to sign 2007 draft picks is less than two weeks away and the Cubs' first overall pick, Josh Vitters, is to date unsigned.

Since Major League Baseball included a new mandatory August 15 deadline for signing recent draft picks in its new Collective Bargaining Agreement (good through the 2011 season and signed last October), teams now have just over two months to sign drafted players.

In years past, a first-round draft pick that was not signed by the first week of August would hardly be cause for alarm.

But as of Friday, a total of 13 clubs had yet to sign their first overall picks. Only four of the top 10 overall picks have been signed to date, and only one of the first five overall picks – Pittsburgh's Daniel Moskos – has been signed.

Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken is optimistic that the Cubs will come to an agreement with their first pick before the August 15 deadline.

"It's just a thing where all options are being weighed," said Wilken.

Vitters, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound third baseman from Cypress (Calif.) High School, batted .390 in 24 games during his final prep season.

A right-handed batter, he hit nine home runs with six doubles and 29 RBIs, missing nearly two weeks of his season from a bout of pneumonia.

Prior to the draft, Vitters committed to Arizona State of the Pac 10.

"Everything has been positive," Wilken said of the talks between the Cubs and Vitters. "We've been in steady contact with Josh. I'm sure something will transpire here and probably start heating up by the end of next week."

Added Wilken: "There's not anything that we're hiding here. I don't think there's any panic on either side of the coin. If anything, all of our talks and meetings have been pleasant. There's nothing that's been alarming or negative. Everything has been positive."

To date, the Cubs have signed 29 of their 50 overall draft picks in 2007.

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