HOUSTON -- When Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken picked then-Clemson outfielder Tyler Colvin in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, it raised some eyebrows.
Colvin had hit .359 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles, five triples and 65 RBIs in 64 games for Clemson in his junior year. He had a .315 career average with the Tigers, yet Baseball America ranked him 170th among position players that year.
"I really believe in this guy's ability," Wilken said at the time.
Colvin now is with the Cubs, opening the season with the big league team for the first time. In 46 games, he's batting .293 with five homers and 13 RBIs. And this week, he was joined by another of Wilken's first-round picks, pitcher Andrew Cashner, who was selected in 2008.
"I've been in situations before where it wasn't the prognosticators' pick or even in that area," Wilken said of the Draft, which begins Monday. "You can't worry about that. You have to go with what your evaluations take you to.
"As you know, we're probably scrutinized a little more in Chicago," Wilken said. "I was fortunate to be in Toronto where it wasn't as scrutinized in the beginning. You could do things without having it be questioned. I think we all thought Cashner would be a pretty darn good pitcher. Whether it's going to be a reliever or starter, that's to be determined down the road.
"With Tyler, I knew what they were saying, I knew what I was seeing and I wasn't going to let that part bother me."
The left-handed-hitting outfielder may have reached the Major Leagues sooner if not for a sore elbow that required Tommy John surgery in 2008. Wilken ignored all the so-called experts who projected Colvin to be tabbed later in the Draft.
"I knew he was a lot better player than that," Wilken said. "He knew he was. The good thing about Tyler is he doesn't say a lot. He really grinded through that Tommy John. ... He had six different episodes [with his elbow] before that Tommy John and he never cried about it."
Colvin, who was a first baseman and converted to an outfielder at Clemson, now has four game-winning RBIs this season, second most among all rookies behind Atlanta's Jason Heyward.
Cubs shuffle starting rotation
HOUSTON -- The Cubs have sorted out their rotation to make sure neither Randy Wells nor Ted Lilly face the Pirates on Monday.
Carlos Zambrano returned to the rotation Friday night against the Astros, making his first start since April 20. Zambrano had switched to the bullpen after four starts and made 13 relief appearances before being moved back into the rotation.
Ryan Dempster (3-5, 3.72 ERA) and Wells (3-3, 4.40 ERA) will finish the Cubs' series against the Astros on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Carlos Silva (7-0, 3.12 ERA) will start the makeup game Monday in Pittsburgh. This will give the right-hander an extended break. His last start was May 29 against the Cardinals, when he threw seven shutout innings, giving up two hits in a 5-0 win.
"It gives [Silva] a little time, a little rest," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Also, we would've had to pitch Wells back to back against [the Pirates]. We didn't want to come right back with Wells, who had just pitched against them."
Wells pitched in Pittsburgh on May 31. In that game, he threw five shutout innings, giving up three hits and walking three. He did not get a decision. Wells is 0-1 in two starts against the Pirates.
Lilly (1-5, 3.61 ERA) is 0-2 in three starts against the Pirates this season, and he will open the Cubs' series against the Brewers on Tuesday.
Lee back in Cubs' lineup
HOUSTON -- First baseman Derrek Lee was back in the Cubs' lineup Friday after being scratched on Wednesday because of a tight right hamstring.
"It's nothing serious at all," Lee said Friday.
The Cubs decided to sit Lee Wednesday against Pittsburgh, because they didn't want to risk injury on wet grounds. That game was postponed because of rain and will be made up Monday.
Lee was surprised to hear his name mentioned this week in trade rumors. The Angels are looking for a first baseman after Kendry Morales fractured his leg while celebrating a walk-off grand slam. Lee and Xavier Nady were mentioned as possibilities.
"Who are the 'excellent sources?'" Lee said. "I've got nothing for you about that."
Lee has a no-trade clause, so any deal would have to get his approval. The first baseman said he wants to stay in Chicago.
"It happens with every team," Lee said. "When you're not playing well, trade rumors pop up. You turn around and play well and you won't hear them. It's part of the business."
Scouting director Wilken ready for Draft
HOUSTON -- The Cubs have the 16th overall pick in Monday's First-Year Player Draft, and they won't pick again until the second round (65th pick). Scouting director Tim Wilken and his staff gathered in Mesa, Ariz., this week to compile their board with players they have targeted.
"At this point, I have a pretty decent comfort level coming into it as far as what might land at our spot at 16," Wilken said. "I like the picks from two to five. After that point, it might become a little thin. I'm quite a bit more comfortable than I've been in a few other Drafts. I don't think it's overwhelming, punch-in-the-face ability, but there's solid ability."
Wilken said there is some right-handed pitching depth, just "OK" outfield depth and some third basemen available. The weakest part of the Draft, he said, was the catchers and also the middle infielders, especially at the college level.
Once the scouts go over their lists, they'll come up with a game plan.
"Generally, that first pick will be who we perceive to be the best possible pick there," Wilken said.
Last year, the Cubs selected outfielder Brett Jackson from UC Berkeley in the first round.
Piniella, staff use off-day to go on fishing trip
HOUSTON -- Lou Piniella and some of the Cubs' staff went on a fishing trip Thursday about 35 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas.
"We had a wonderful day," Piniella said Friday.
The group had plenty of good fortune as they caught shark, mackeral, and kingfish. The crew even prepared one of the cobia they caught and brought back filets that the chef at their hotel in Houston prepared for dinner.
It was a great day for all but two in the Cubs' party. Apparently, bench coach Alan Trammell and assistant athletic trainer Ed Halbur don't have sea legs.
"Unfortunately, two of our fishermen got sick, so they didn't have a rod in their hand the whole day," Piniella said. "Outside of that, a beautiful boat and a really nice day for fishing."
At dinner Thursday, the discussion switched from fishing to the lineup, and that's how Marlon Byrd ended up as the Cubs' leadoff man Friday for the series opener against the Astros.
"Over dinner last night we talked about our lineup, and we'll try this and see," Piniella said of Byrd, who did lead off once before this season on April 19 against the Mets in New York.
If it works, it'll be quite the fish story.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.