By Mark Grote–
(CBS) The big league club is in the playoff chase, another catching prospect is on the rise, September call-ups are about to hit and Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod is with the team on the current West Coast road trip.
So it was a perfect time to ask McLeod some questions.
Grote: What have you seen in Javier Baez at Triple-A Iowa this season? Is he ready to make an impact at the big league level?
McLeod: It’s been an up-and-down year for him, having dealt with a lot of adversity on an off the field. But I think we are seeing Javier peak and putting himself in position to come up here and help this club next month. The big thing with Javier has been consistency and controlling the effort level at the plate (72 strikeouts in 65 games). That’s been a constant with him this year. Controlling the approach and controlling how big the swing gets. He finally seems to be coming around much more consistently. (Baez is hitting .314 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs.)
Grote: What about right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. and infielder Mike Olt down at Triple-A? Will they be here?
McLeod: We are still going to have those discussions throughout the week, and most of those roster players are going to be in the discussion. Really, a lot is going to depend on Joe (Maddon) and what he thinks we might need. How much pitching does he want? What types of position players does he want? That’s part of the reason I am on this trip, is to talk through some of those things with Joe.
Grote: The last time you and I spoke, you said to keep an eye on 23-year-old Double-A catcher Wilson Contreras. Is he still must-see?
McLeod: I can’t speak highly enough about the year he’s had (.328 batting average, eight homers, 70 RBIs and an .885 OPS in 116 games). He has put himself on the national landscape in terms of people talking about prospects and, in particular, catching prospects. You are looking at a physical, athletic catcher who is really maturing behind the plate and at the plate. We always knew that the physical ability was there, but he was really raw and played with a lot of emotion, which would sometimes get the best of him. But he’s showing the maturation process that you would hope for, and he’s going to be one of our better prospects.
Grote: Are you surprised by the success of the big league team this year?
McLeod: Well, I would like to say ‘yes’ in the sense that we couldn’t have expected that Kyle Schwarber, 14 months ago, would be hitting in the two-hole for a team that is pushing for a playoff spot. I’ll say this: What is not surprising is the way they’ve carried themselves. It has been a lot of fun to hear Anthony Rizzo and some of the guys on the coaching staff talk about what the rookies have brought to the team with their presence and in the clubhouse.
Grote: What about you? Would you like to run your own show some day?
McLeod: It’s nice when people say things like that, but we have so much good going on here that is finally starting to come to fruition. All that is in front of me right now is continuing to help the Cubs be better and help get guys get up here that can help the major league team.
Mark Grote is the Cubs pregame and postgame host on WBBM. Follow him on Twitter @markgrotesports.