Cubs

BA's Jim Callis on Cubs' draft options

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BA's Jim Callis on Cubs' draft options

Baseball America's Jim Callis joined David Kaplan on WGN Radio Sunday afternoon to discuss Cubs draft storylines.

This is Theo Epstein and Co.'s first draft with the Cubs and they will be selecting sixth overall on Monday.

"I think they'll get a player comparable to what they got last year at No. 9," Callis said, referring to the Cubs' selection of Javier Baez ninth overall in 2011. "Last year was a deeper draft, but they should get a good player. Even in a down draft, you're better off picking at the top, even with the new rules in spending. At least you get to pick the cream of the crop."

In a best-case scenario, Callis thinks Kevin Gausman, a right-handed pitcher out of LSU, would be the ideal choice for the Cubs, but Callis doesn't see him getting past Baltimore at No. 4 or Kansas City at 5.

Callis believes the Cubs will wind up taking Albert Almora, a high school outfielder out of Florida.

"He's less toosly than projected first overall pick, outfielder Byron Buxton, but he still has a lot of plus-tools and he's more polished," Callis said. "The ceiling is not quite as high as Buxton's, but the floor is higher. There's less risk. He's a player with a lot of tools and a lot of aptitude, which is a tremendous combination."

Some other options for the Cubs include shortstop Carlos Correa and high-school left-hander Max Fried.

"Gun to my head, I might take Correa," Callis said. "If you dream on him, you could see Troy Tulowitzki with Correa. Max Fried is the best high-school pitcher in the draft and he's left-handed...It's a tough call, but that's a pleasant problem to have. At least you have three very attractive options there. If you were picking 11th or 12th in the draft, you'd be looking at a totally different type of player."

Jason McLeod and Tim Wilken have been running the show for the Cubs in terms of scouting and development and Callis heaped praise down on the duo.

"That's a tremendous combination," he said. "I really think Jason is one of the best scouting directors in the league. You look at his track record in Boston, his two years in San Diego, I think you're looking at a guy who's gonna be a GM someday.

"And then you're talking about Tim Wilken. If you're looking for scouting directors to put together resumes, Tim probably has the best resume of anyone. He's been doing it for a awhile. He had a ton of success in Toronto. He had some success in Tampa Bay when he ran some drafts there. That's a dream team pairing."

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

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USA TODAY

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

Suffice to say Kris Bryant is budding with anticipation for becoming a father.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child — a baby boy due in April. During Friday night’s Cubs-Padres broadcast, the third baseman shared his excitement for fatherhood with reporter Taylor McGregor

“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said, laughing. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”

Bryant’s son is due shortly after Opening Day, but the Cubs will play two spring training games in Las Vegas — Bryant’s hometown — on March 7-8. He told McGregor one of Jessica’s last doctor’s appointments is around the same time, so Bryant will get one last visit in before Baby Bryant is born.

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How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

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AP

How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

Adam Greenberg’s baseball career was cut short by a scary head injury 15 years ago. But with the help of Dusty Baker, he found the motivation to transition to his post-baseball life.

Greenberg made his MLB debut with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, and Baker called upon the then 24-year-old to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Marlins. On the first pitch Greenberg saw in the big leagues, Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos hit him in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball.

Greenberg was concussed from the incident, suffered from vertigo and vision problems, and battled depression. The Cubs released him in 2006 and he caught on with the Royals and later the Dodgers in 2007 — which is when Baker reappears in the story. From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

A couple of years following the incident, in 2007, Baker got a letter from a fan requesting a baseball card be signed. In the letter, the person told Baker that Greenberg had been released by the Royals and his baseball career was in jeopardy. Baker tracked down Greenberg and left him the voice mail that served as his motivation for a post-baseball life.

“It was so genuine and from the heart,” Greenberg said. “It put me in tears the first time, but it was the motivation and inspiration I needed to get up and keep going. And since then, he’s been somebody that’s been near and dear to me."

It's unfortunate Greenberg couldn’t experience a long big-league career, but Baker inspired him and helped him move forward post-baseball. According to McTaggart, Greenberg started a nutrition company and sold it 10 years later. He also ran for state senate in Connecticut in 2019 and is currently a baseball analyst for the ACC Network.

Greenberg’s career effectively ended moments after it began, but 2005 wasn’t the last time he stepped in a big-league batters’ box. In 2012, fans started an online petition to get him one last at-bat — and his career came full circle. The Marlins signed him to a one-day contract on Oct. 2, 2012, and he pinch-hit that same day against the Mets.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but Baker’s voicemail left a mark on his life. Seeing him enjoy success outside of baseball is as heartwarming as it gets.