While all the talk was about the Cubs taking a power pitcher, they instead went for a bat, and a prolific one at that, in the first round of the draft Thursday.
After the Houston Astros took Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the first overall pick, the Cubs surprised some by going with University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant with the second selection. By doing so, they bypassed Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray.
In two seasons under team president Theo Epstein, the Cubs have made it their mission to stock the system with as many young arms as possible. But as they saw it, Bryant was too enticing a hitter to pass up. He led the nation this college season as a junior with 31 homers to go with a hitting line of .329/.493/.820.
"We're going to take the players we feel are going to provide the most impact for the organization for the long term," said Jason McLeod, the club's head of scouting and player development. "That's what played out tonight.
"Certainly we spent a lot of time scouting all of them, got to know all of them very well. Without telling you how our board exactly lined up, we were never going to go into a draft to draft on need. We talked a lot of about acquiring pitching, power pitching, and certainly those players were out there in this draft and went one and three.
"Ultimately, we're going to make the decisions we feel our best for this organization both in the short and long term, and Kris Bryant was the player for us when it came to that pick."
Bryant isn't lacking for confidence.
"I honestly think I can play in the big leagues now," he said. "I have that type of confidence in myself. Like I said, that's not my decision. I'll leave that up to the guys in charge."
If the Cubs can sign Bryant, they say they feel his immediate future is as a third baseman. Former No. 1 pick (2007) Josh Vitters has had a slow career path, and he's currently at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs' top pick from 2011, shortstop Javier Baez, is at Class A Daytona.
There has been talk the Cubs will move Baez to third, especially with Starlin Castro at shortstop now for the big club.
"We do think in the immediate future (Bryant) is going to play third base for quite a while and if there is a time down the road that he continues to grow and continue to get stronger and we feel a move may be necessary than we'll deal with it then," McLeod said. "You're going to see third base next to Kris Bryant's name in the near future."