The Cubs are finally beginning to invest some real money into player development now that the Ricketts family has taken over as owners. This is exciting news for me as a Cubs fan. If you don’t think player development matters take a look at the New York Yankees. Derek Jeter was a 1st round draft pick in 1992. Mariano Rivera was signed as an amateur free agent in 1990. Andy Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft. Bernie Williams was signed as an amateur free agent in 1985. Jorge Posada was drafted in the 24th round of the 1990 draft. Those players helped form a dynasty in the mid to late 90s.
The Cincinnati Reds are another example of player development paying off without the luxury of a large payroll for expensive free agents that your big market franchises have. All Star first baseman, Joey Votto, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft. Jay Bruce was drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft. Drew Stubbs was a 1st round pick in 2006. Homer Bailey was a 1st round pick in the 2004 draft. Johnny Cueto was signed as an amateur free agent in 2004 and Aroldis Chapman was singed as an amateur free agent in 2010. These players were instrumental in helping the Reds to the playoffs in 2010 and should provide the Reds with a bright future. The Reds also acquired some quality players through trades in Edinson Volquez, Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen.
The Cubs have done so-so in the last 10 years in the amateur draft. In 2001, we drafted Mark Prior in the 1st round, Ryan Theriot in the 3rd round, Sergio Mitre in the 7th round and Geovany Soto in the 11th round. 2002 wasn’t as kind though, but we did manage to draft Randy Wells as a catcher in the 38th round. In 2003 Ryan Harvey was our 1st round pick and unfortunately he never worked out for us. We also drafted Jake Fox in the 3rd round, Sean Marshall in the 6th round, Casey McGehee in the 10th round and Tim Lincecum in the 48th round but obviously he didn’t sign with us. In 2004 our draft didn’t work out too well. We drafted Mark Pawelek in the 1st round in 2005, but he never panned out. In 2006 we drafted pretty well. Tyler Colvin in the 1st, Jeff Samardzija in the 5th, Jeremy Papelbon in the 19th (Jonathan’s brother) and a few others that are still in our system working their way up. 2008 and 2009 seem to be decent drafts for us too, but time will tell. Most importantly we need to draft well, sign amateur free agents like Carlos Marmol (1999) and develop these players better than we have done in the past. Combine all of that with the ability to spend a lot of money and the Cubs will hopefully start winning on a regular basis and finally bring home a World Series Championship.