Cubs News

Cubs draft Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw in first round

1 year agoAndy Martinez

Matt Shaw had a whirlwind of a day.

After being selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft by the Cubs, Shaw had a plethora of calls lined up with members of the Cubs’ front office. But between the time he was drafted and when he was unveiled to the media as the newest farmhand for the Chicago Cubs, Shaw received a message from none other than Dansby Swanson, the star shortstop for the team he was just drafted by.

“Dansby Swanson reached out to me and said congratulations, sent a nice, long text,” Shaw, the University of Maryland shortstop, said with a smile. “So that was really cool. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to meet him, and hopefully, he says, ‘Matt, you’ve got to go play second base. You’re not going to play short.’”

Shaw has had a tremendous last 12 months.

At the end of summer 2022, Shaw was named the Cape Cod Summer Player of the Year. He hit .360/.432/.574 with 5 home runs and 21 stolen bases in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

“That was huge,” Shaw said. “I mean I got the chance to play against great players, play with a wooden bat.”

Shaw made a crucial shift in his game there, too.

Prior to the summer of 2022, Shaw would look and sit for his pitches — usually something off-speed, which pitchers were prone to throw early in counts to him. But his bench coach in the Cape Cod League, former big leaguer Jarrod Saltalamacchia, helped him find a new plan of attack.

“The little thing that helped me was realizing that those off-speed pitches that I’m getting weren’t necessarily the ones that I wanted to do damage on,” Shaw said. “So, I’d stay on the heater and I’d be able to take those off-speed pitches early and all of a sudden I’m in a 2-0 count instead of a 1-1 or I’m grounding out early.

The results carried over to his junior year at Maryland. From his sophomore year to his junior year, he improved his slugging percentage by nearly 100 points (.604 to .697), his on-base percentage by almost 60 points (.381 to .445), his batting average by about 50 points (.290 to .341) and his strikeout rate dropped roughly 3 percentage points (18.78% to 15.91%).

“So that discipline came front he approach side of things and being a little more patient,” Shaw said. “But also having that plan where just cause they’re gonna throw a slider doesn’t necessarily mean I need to sit on it and hit it.”

He finished his season with the Terrapins with a 1.142 OPS, 24 home runs, 18 stolen bases and 69 RBI and was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus All-American.

That all culminated with the next step in reaching his lifelong of becoming a major-league baseball player.

“This day has been obviously amazing,” Shaw said. “Going through all the different teams and I’m like you know, Chicago would be a great fit. It worked out great. I’m just really happy.”

After his message from Swanson, Shaw realized if he climbs the ranks quickly, he might have to move off shortstop. He doesn’t care where; he’ll play anywhere as long as he’s a major leaguer.

Well, almost anywhere.

“Short, second, third, left, center, right,” Shaw said with a smile. “Really, I could play first, but I think I’m a bit short for first.”

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