Tim Wilken on 2008 Draft, Cubs' War Room

The 2008 MLB Draft is here and Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken talks to InsideTheIvy.com about this year's class, what it's like inside the Cubs' war room, and more.

What do you make of this year's class? Is it geared more toward high school or college, pitching or hitting?

Tim Wilken: It probably adheres more toward high school, a lot more toward first basemen than in the past. It's got some depth to it. There is pretty much a little bit of everything. A little bit of a weakness is outfielders.

Given that the Cubs stockpiled a lot of outfielders early on in the draft last year, I wonder if perhaps the organization is a little more set in that area now.

Tim Wilken: Not necessarily. I don't think you can ever have enough of those. Other people say, ‘No, you need more pitching, or starting pitching.' Well, if it's not there, you can't force it. Then, you start going for depth I think. It just depends on the lay of the land and how it goes. We're sitting at 19th, we don't know what's going to get there, but we make our progression and this has got some pretty good depth to it for about a good three to five rounds. I think we're just going to take what we can.

Is your philosophy always been to take the best player available to you in each draft, regardless of position, or does it vary from year to year?

Tim Wilken: Yeah, that's pretty safe to say, until you get to a certain situation where you think the top cream leaves and all of a sudden you get into a part of the draft that doesn't have the excitement. Then what you do is start trying to draft for weakness.

What is it like in the ‘war room' on draft day: your leader-boards, the phones ringing. What is the atmosphere like on the day of the draft and the days leading up to it?

Tim Wilken: Basically, here's what we've got: we've got about seven or eight guys that are constantly here. We brought in all of our scouts on Monday and Tuesday of last week. They flew in Monday and the other group on Tuesday. So we had meetings Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, then we had kind of a local workout Wednesday night. Thursday, we went out and had a couple of guys come in and work out from outside the area, some higher-profile guys.

Friday, we had regionals here where we flew some guys to. All of the scouts that went back home after meetings, we covered every regional. Also Friday night there was a high school All-Star game here in Arizona; we went to that. Saturday, we got back and started meeting about 12 and then went to the Arizona State regional, which had Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, ASU and Stony Brook. Then we had two more guys come in Sunday morning to work out and we've been kind of meeting Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That's the way it's been.

Lots of burning the midnight oil.

Tim Wilken: Yeah, and they start probably at 7:30 and in some cases we go to 9 or 10 o'clock at night. We go through lots of films, probably anywhere from eight- to twelve-hundred guys up on our boards. We rank probably the first 65, then by position after, and then we have a board for unsignables.

We have another board for medicals, and then another board for summer-type drafts, and then some for after the draft if we need to fill some rosters out. So we have six full-length boards that are about a good 48 inches long and high, and every one of those boards are pretty much full.

Are we going to see some signings of fifth-year seniors this year?

Tim Wilken: No, they cut that out on us. It was not tabled, it was not voted upon; it was just given to us. That's just the way it's going to go, and that came from the commissioner's office in New York, and they don't know whose wagon to tail. … Once again, they're just trying to control what they view to be money that shouldn't be spent, and they're taking away the value of the player. But, that's the way it goes.

It would seem to me that in the process, they're also taking away the hard work of the scout that goes to see some of these players.

Tim Wilken: Sure, all of the relationships that have been cultivated through the years -- there have been a lot of good cases, so they can't say it's all been ill-spent. It's a shame.


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