Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cubs Convention Day 3

Throughout the weekend at the Hilton it was noticeably less packed. For the first time, the convention was not a sell out. However, it was still packed.

On Sunday there were just two sessions. Many people are always cleared out by the final day, and when you top that off with the lower attendance to begin with this year and the Bears game- the two sessions were not all that crowded.

The first session was called "The 25 Club". Wayne Messmer chatted three of the Cubs 25-year-olds about life in the bigs. Tyler Colvin, Scott Maine and Darwin Barney were on the panel. James Russell was also scheduled to attend, but he did not show up.

Colvin told a story about an elementary school teacher who gave him a low grade on an essay about his career goal. She told him that becoming a Major League Baseball player was not a realistic goal. He showed her. Tyler also said that he was never a standout player growing up.

Darwin Barney hit over .600 in high school but still did not get drafted until after he went to college. When asked about a avoiding the temptation to go out and party in the city of Chicago, Barney said that it is pretty easy since he has a wife and a two-year old to go home to. Colvin said the same, but instead of a child he has his beloved dog.

Scott Maine said that Greg Maddux gave his season a huge boost by the instruction he gave him this season. Colvin credited Billy Williams and Derrek Lee as guys who have given him hitting advice.

Next up was the annual Down on the Farm session hosted by Vineline editor Mike Huang. Before the session, a handout describing Cubs prospects that will appear in the February issue of Vineline was passed out. Albert Cabrera and Rob Whitenack are the two guys who Vineline editors think will make a big splash in 2011.

In the past, they have listed 50 names from the farm, but this year they cut it down to 20. Here is the list:
  • Tony Campana, OF
  • Brett Jackson, OF
  • Chris Carpenter, RHP
  • Jay Jackson, RHP
  • Welington Castillo, C
  • Aaron Kurcz, RHP
  • Rafael Dolis, RHP
  • Junior Lake, INF
  • Ryan Flaherty, INF
  • DJ LeMahieu, INF
  • Micah Gibbs, C
  • Marcos Mateo, RHP
  • Reggie Golden, OF
  • Trey McNutt, RHP
  • Brooks Raley, LHP
  • Chris Rusin, LHP
  • Hayden Simpson, RHP
  • Kyle Smit, RHP
  • Josh Vitters, 3B
  • Logan Watkins, UTL

DJ LeMahieu, Jay Jackson and Chris Carpenter were all at the minor league session. The guys enjoyed their first Cubs Convention experience and the thrill of getting their names announced at the Opening Ceremonies.

All three guys had different draft day stories to share. Carpenter followed the whole thing with his family. DJ watched from his room at LSU with some teammates since the Tigers were still in the College World Series at the time. Jackson did not even watch his draft. He was outside shooting baskets when he got the text that he was a Cub.

Oneri Fleita (farm director) and Tim Wilken (scouting director) were both at the session. Fleita talked about how much he hates making the phone call to tell someone that they are traded or released. Wilken mentioned that a player's "make up" on and off the field is taken into consideration.

Tim talked about the Matt Garza,mentioning the fact that the Cubs have a lot of depth in their organization at positions like shortstop and catcher. Jim Hendry worked on the deal for three to four months. Wilken actually spent time at the end of the 2010 season watching Carlos Pena and Fernando Perez play in person. Both were already on the Cubs' radar.

Even though the Cubs are coming off a down year, the Cubs Convention was just as much fun as it always is. There is a lot of hope for the future in this organization. Welcoming Kerry Wood back, honoring Ron Santo and introducing the two ex-Rays to Chicago were the highlights of the weekend.

Click if you missed my recaps of Day 1 or Day 2. I'll have some more Convention wrap-up thoughout the week.

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