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Cubs looking to bolster pitching in draft

CHICAGO (MCT) — The Cubs brass and scouting department have spent the last three days in discussions over the upcoming amateur draft, which begins Monday.

“Every draft is our Super Bowl,” vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said.

McLeod said this year’s high school class is strong, and there’s depth in college pitching, though not so much with college position players. He wouldn’t tip his hand over the Cubs’ preference with the sixth pick but said they will focus on pitching.

“It can get contentious as we start debating players,” McLeod said. “But that’s a great thing. We want debate. We don’t want everyone to agree all the time.”

After a couple of months evaluating the farm system, McLeod said the obvious — the Cubs lack “impact” players.

“You need power pitching, you need impact players to get into the postseason,” he said. “It takes a little time to acquire those guys.”

After Wednesday’s game, the Cubs worked out two high school players projected to be top picks — left-hander Max Fried of California and shortstop Carlos Correa of Puerto Rico. By draft day, McLeod said the Cubs will have worked out around 40 players, including local kids.

“It’s not so much for the evaluation on-field,” McLeod said. “It’s more to sit down or look at them in the face and ask pretty pointed questions.”

McLeod leads the draft meetings, with scouting director Tim Wilken leading the “player-to-player” discussions.

Rizzo watch: McLeod said first baseman Anthony Rizzo is in the “finishing stages” of his stay at Triple-A Iowa. Rizzo was supposed to return to the lineup Wednesday after missing a game with a sore right wrist, but the I-Cubs’ game with Omaha was postponed.

“Because he went through what he went through last year, with the anticipation in San Diego and the struggles once he got up, it has made him a better player,” McLeod said. “Mentally, he’s much stronger coming out of that. He’s in his finishing stages now, and it shouldn’t be too long before he’s up here.”

Sox talk: The recent rise of the first-place White Sox is the biggest baseball story in town, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he watches their games often and texted Sox manager Robin Ventura on Tuesday night.

“I texted him about doing a nice job and all that,” Sveum said. “It’s nice to have a buddy who’s starting out the first time and obviously they’re doing well. So we text once in a while and talked quite a bit when he was in town. We’ll do it again two weeks from now (during Round 2 of the City Series).”

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