CHICAGO -- The Cubs targeted pitching in last year's MLB Draft, but they did so without any first- or second-round selections. This year, they identified the arms they wanted early and went and got them.
The Cubs took pitchers with seven of their first eight picks and 19 of their first 28 overall in the 2017 Draft. They started Day 1 with hard-throwing lefty Brendon Little and then four straight right-handers into Day 2 before finally taking a non-pitcher in the fifth round.
Looking back on the Draft, Cubs senior vice president of player development and scouting Jason McLeod said he was pleased with the haul, especially some of the guys they got in the first 10 rounds.
"You're always happy in the immediacy after the Draft, but I think as we even step away from it and look at the mile-high view of our Draft list, we've got a lot of guys that performed at a pretty high level in college," McLeod said. "A couple guys that have started in the SEC and been successful in the SEC. A guy in Cory Abbott who went on a phenomenal run really for the last two-and-a-half months of his season at Loyola Marymount, Erich Uelmen at Cal-Poly, and then getting a high school upside kid in Jeremiah Estrada."
Estrada comes in as one of the more interesting names in the class. The right-hander had a dominant summer but regressed some in the spring, losing sharpness on his changeup and some of his velocity. There are also some questions about whether or not he'll follow through on his commitment to UCLA for college, but McLeod said he's hopeful the Cubs will be able to sign him.
"You have to feel pretty good if you're going to spend the pick," McLeod said. "He's a kid that we scouted a lot last summer. [We're] excited about his future."
Overall, there were a few common threads running through the Cubs' picks. Several of the players -- especially the pitchers -- were described as highly competitive, while McLeod also talked about some of the intangible qualities some players possessed.
One example of this was with third baseman Austin Filire, who McLeod said played well in the Cape Cod League and thrived in a three-season career at MIT, earning the 255th overall selection in the Draft.
"He obviously goes to MIT, so he's smarter than anyone in the room," McLeod said, "But that's a kid who went to Hamilton High School in Chandler [Ariz.] and played with Cody Bellinger actually."
Another example was the team's 19th-round pick, Chris Singleton. Singleton's mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was one of nine people killed in the Charleston, S.C., shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in 2015, yet he showed incredible poise in the face of tragedy, holding a press conference the next day, where he proclaimed love was larger than hate.