2023 MLB Draft continues for Cubs with rounds 3 through 10
The 2023 MLB Draft rolled on with rounds 3 through 10 taking place on Day 2 on Monday in Seattle.
The Cubs wrapped up the second day by taking six hitters (four from college) and two collegiate pitchers. The Cubs had a clear target in mind with the hitters they took.
“Probably the theme is some guys that control the zone that also have enough thump,” Cubs VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said.
Here’s a full rundown of the players the Cubs selected on Day 2:
Round 3: Josh Rivera, SS, University of Florida
The Cubs started day two of the draft by taking another college hitter, Florida’s Josh Rivera with the 81st pick. He was the 87th-ranked prospect in the draft, per MLB Pipeline. Rivera hit .348 with 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases for the Gators. He was named First Team All-College World Series team, First Team All-SEC and was a second team All-American.
If there’s one thing that impressed the Cubs, though, it’s his maturation. Kantrovitz and the rest of the scouting department always knew there was raw power in Rivera’s game. But this season he showed patience and improvement in his plate discipline. He walked more, struck out less and, in turn, improved his triple slash line by nearly 100 points each — from .255/.351/.429 to .348/.447/.617.
“Ike Ballou, our area scout, was tracking his progress all spring and noted at our beginning of the season scouting meetings that Josh really focused on improving his decision-making and just really his control of the strike zone,” Kantrovitz said. “Sometimes, when a player focuses on that, it doesn’t always come to fruition.
“But in the case of Josh, it was clear that some of the adjustments actually were substantial and meaningful and led to what ended up being one of the better seasons out there from a college shortstop.”
Round 4: RHP Will Sanders, University of South Carolina
The Cubs added another collegiate arm in South Carolina righty Will Sanders with the 113th pick. Sanders posted a 5.46 ERA in his junior year this spring but had 77 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. His fastball sits 92-94 and has a changeup, curveball and slider “both of which have depth,” per MLB Pipeline. He was Pipeline’s 135th-ranked prospect.
“I think what really stood out to us about Will was the six-foot-six frame, but he generates a really extreme downhill angle with good extension,” Kantrovitz said. “He’s not just a power guy, though, even though he throws mid-90s fastball. There’s there’s three other distinct secondary pitches in the slider, the curve and the changeup all of which he can go to really at any count.”
Round 5: Michael Carico, C, Davidson
The Cubs took a bat-first catcher in the 5th round, drafting left-handed hitting Michael Carico of Davidson. He was MLB Pipeline’s 110th-ranked prospect. Carico missed most of the 2023 season with a broken bone in his left wrist, but in 2022 had the best on-base percentage and OPS in the country (.559/1.402). His 2022 gave him Davidson’s single-season records in OBP, slugging (.843), OPS, home runs (21), extra-base hits (43) and runs scored (71).
“He came into the year with a lot of momentum,” Kantrovitz said. “Somebody that we were pretty excited about as far as just having a power bat and somebody that we thought could maintain the catching position, which is a rare combination.
“We expect a full recovery and no long-term concerns there. He’s definitely somebody that along with [Sanders] we’ll probably try to take it fairly slowly with them.”
Round 6: Alfonsin Rosario, OF, P27 Academy (S.C.)
Outfielder Alfonsin Rosario out of P27 Academy in South Carolina became the Cubs’ first high school player of the draft. In 36 games, Rosario had 9 home runs and 30 RBI, per the Cubs. He is the younger of Padres prospect Eguy Rosario. The 6-foot, 6-inch Rosario was impressive in the showcase circuit with high exit velocities, like this double from last fall:
“He ended up coming to our workout in Myrtle Beach and we all ended up getting another look at just the raw power he has, which is enormous,” Kantrovitz said. “He’s a guy that if everything clicks could end up being a pretty exciting player.”
Round 7: Yahil Melendez, SS, B You Academy (Puerto Rico)
Perfect Game ranked Yahil Melendez as the second-best shortstop out of Puerto Rico. Melendez was committed to Rice University in Houston.
“Ended up being somebody that I think we probably had five or six different scouts seeing this spring which is a lot when you’re talking about a player from Puerto Rico,” Kantrovitz said. “We just felt really comfortable with his profile somebody that should be able to stay in the middle of the diamond. A young player that we’re fortunate to select and hopefully come to terms with here shortly.”
Round 8: Brett Bateman, OF, Minnesota
After taking a pair of high schoolers, the Cubs grabbed their third college bat of the draft, Brett Bateman from the University of Minnesota. Bateman is known for his speed — he swiped 17 bags while hitting .354 with the Golden Gophers. He was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection.
In 13 games in the Cape Cod League this summer, Bateman was hitting .500 (23-for-46) in 13 games with 5 stolen bases and just 5 strikeouts.
“We think he’s got a chance to maintain centerfield,” Kantrovitz said. “We became really impressed with him as a kid as the season went on. Kind of a hard-nosed, gritty, gutty player with some thump in his bat, that should be able to maintain a premium position.”
Round 9: Jonathon Long, 1B, Long Beach State
On their penultimate pick of Day 2, the Cubs took another college hitter in Long Beach State first baseman Jonathon Long. Long hit .312/.404/.600 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI. In the 2022 Cape Cod League, Long had 5 home runs and a .701 OPS in 40 games. That summer might’ve helped him add some pop from his sophomore year.
In 2022 with the Dirtbags, Long hit .312 with a .411 on-base percentage, but his slugging percentage was just .454 with 6 home runs and 8 doubles. Last season he nearly had twice as many doubles (17) and almost three times as many homers.
“Long Beach is a really difficult place to hit,” Kantrovitz said. “Our area scout Evan Kaufmann was just really bullish on the hit tool in particular.”
Round 10: Luis Martinez-Gomez, RHP, Temple College (Texas)
The Cubs wrapped up Day 2 of the draft by taking junior college pitcher Luis Martinez-Gomez out of Temple College (Texas). He made 13 starts with the Leopards this season, posting a 2.83 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 63.2 innings. In his final game with Temple, Martinez-Gomez threw 7 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 10 and allowing just 4 hits.
“It’s a really live, loose arm stroke that he’s got,” Kantrovitz said. “We think there’s some opportunities to make some tweaks, whether it’s with seam-orientation, whether it’s with just adding a new wrinkle pitch here or there.