(CBS) The Cubs have seen one of baseball’s best farm systems diminish in recent years, for good reason of course. The influx of top talents rose through the organization and last season led the big league club to its first World Series championship in more than a century.
It’s the task of senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod to continue bringing young pieces through the organization and up to the big leagues. He’s relishing the challenge.
“When you run guys like Kris Bryant, (Kyle) Schwarber, (Addison) Russell was in Double-A when we traded for him, Javy Baez, when you have this steady stream of impact players coming through your system pretty quickly and contributing to the major league club, you understand the build-up of ‘What’s next? What’s next?’” McLeod said on Hit and Run on 670 The Score on Sunday.
“Certainly, we’ve taken some hits on that front. But one thing I’ve reminded myself about and we talk about in the office is just how young our current core players are in the major leagues – how young our position players are in particular – and knowing that those guys are going to be really good for here and the long-term future of the organization. That’s going to allow us to go out and replenish what we feel we need to.”
After building a core in the majors, the Cubs parted ways with three of their top prospects over the last two Julys to ensure a chance at the World Series. Last summer, the team traded top prospect Gleyber Torres and a package of three others – including two more prospects – to add Aroldis Chapman as a three-month rental. Chapman proved to be an instrumental piece in the Cubs’ championship run.
Two weeks ago, the Cubs traded top heralded prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the White Sox in a move that brought in left-hander Jose Quintana and his team-friendly contract.
For McLeod, seeing major prospects traded away is unique. His task is to identify talent and help it develop, but he understands president of baseball operations Theo Epstein must ensure contention at the big league level.
“That’s always tough,” McLeod said of the win-now trades. “And you see them grow as men, too, and you get close to them. So that’s always tough to make a move like that. But we understand it’s part of the business, and we understand that the greater goal is to make the major league club as strong as it can be.”
The Cubs’ current list of top prospects, according to MLB.com, is led by corner infielder Jeimer Candelario, who has played sparingly in stints in the big league in the last two seasons. With Ian Happ now working comfortably in the majors, the Cubs’ lone top-100 prospect is Candelario. By comparison, the rebuilding White Sox have 10 prospects on the list, all within the top 68.
McLeod’s job will be to keep restocking the farm system with young talent – even when that means drafting at the bottom of the order. The Cubs have their young core of players. Now they want to add more.
“To me, it’s always a greater challenge once you get there to stay at the top,” McLeod said. “To continue to add pieces to your major league club and to your organization that are going to help you long term.”
Listen to McLeod’s full interview below.