April 5, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein talks to the media before the game against the Washington Nationals on opening day at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Based on comments made by Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations Theo Epstein at this morning’s Spring Training press conference, the team will focus primarily on pitching depth in the June draft – something anticipated by many, given the team is prospect-rich in terms of position players.
Last summer, I penned a piece for FanSided that focused inherently on the top several slots in this year’s draft, and it has only become more relevant with time:
"Of the teams with the top four picks in next year’s draft – the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs – the Cubs have the fewest number of top pitching prospects, according to MLB.com prospect rankings. The Cubs have seven pitching prospects among their organizational top 20, followed by the White Sox with eight, Houston with nine and Miami with eleven."
According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, Epstein said the team will draft primarily arms this year, but nothing is certain with regards to the team’s first-round pick, which comes in at fourth overall, behind only Houston, Miami and the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox.
Epstein also said that he believes the team’s current pitching prospects are “undervalued”, but he did admit that he would like to have about “twice as many” in the system as he does currently.
According to Baseball America, the Cubs have three pitching prospects among the organizational top ten. At number three, C.J. Edwards, who was acquired in the trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas last year, comes in, followed by Pierce Johnson (6) and Arodys Vizcaino (10).
Vizcaino is projected as a reliever, based on this morning’s press conference, and he is also reportedly healthy – a big boost for a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2013. In the offseason, Hoyer and Epstein added another left-hander, Wesley Wright, to the mix, which should help take the load off James Russell, who has made 151 appearances over the past two seasons.