Cubs draft Oklahoma pitcher Cade Horton with 7th overall pick in 2022 draft
The Cubs strengthened their farm system Sunday night, taking Cade Horton, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Oklahoma with the 7th overall pick in the 2022 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Horton was recommended by Cubs’ area scout Ty Nichols. Horton was at his home in Norman, Okla. when the Cubs picked him.
“It was awesome,” Horton said. “I can’t even describe the feeling. Like I said, it doesn’t feel real. This night has been crazy.”
Horton, 20, was stellar for the Sooners in the 2022 College World Series, including in the finals, where he struck out 13 in 7.1 innings in Oklahoma’s loss to Ole Miss. The 13 strikeouts are a College World Series record and he was named to the All-Tournament team. Part of that success came from the addition of a slider that he worked on and added ahead of the start of the postseason.
“I felt like guys were really getting to the fastball and sitting on one pitch – either the breaking ball or the fastball – and once they got it, they were just hammering it,” Horton said. “And so after that start, I was like, I gotta do something different. I gotta add in a cutter or a slider to get these guys off the fastball.”
In 2 starts at the College World Series, Horton had 24 whiffs. He averaged 14.22 strikeouts per 9 innings in the postseason.
“In Omaha, that crowd is crazy,” Horton said. “It’s awesome to be able to be on that stage. You talk about adrenaline, I wanted to calm myself down more than anything just so I could focus on taking it 1 pitch at a time and hitting a target and focusing on what I want to do with that certain pitch.”
He missed his freshman year — the 2021 season after Tommy John surgery. In his redshirt-freshman season in 2022, the 6-foot-1-inch Horton pitched to a 4.86 ERA, but really turned it on in the postseason. Horton struck out at least 8 batters in his final five collegiate starts in the postseason. He fanned 9 batters in the Big 12 Championship Game against Texas in 5.1 innings and allowed just 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks.
“There was a lot of late buzz that Cade Horton might sneak into the top ten picks after his stellar postseason run and the Cubs made the move here at 7,” MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis said. “While he missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery and didn’t really catch fire until his final five starts, he showed enough that in my mind he was the best college pitcher available. He’s a quality athlete with a fastball that reaches 98 mph and a wipeout slider that touches 90. A two-way player at Oklahoma, he could really take off now that he’s healthy and will focus only on pitching.”
With a trip to the College World Series on the line against Virginia Tech, Horton delivered, pitching 6 innings of 2-run ball on 2 hits, 2 walks and striking out 8. Horton also played third base, shortstop and designated hitter in college. Offensively, he hit .235 with 1 home run and 17 RBI in 145 at-bats.
“It helps me a lot,” Horton said. “Just holding on runners and honestly, the biggest thing knowing how hard hitting is. I think that’s what really helps me is even though pitching is really hard, hitting’s even harder.”
It’s the second straight year the Cubs have taken a pitcher with their 1st round pick. Last year, the Cubs took lefty Jordan Wicks out of Kansas State 21st overall. Horton is excited to get to work with the Cubs, too.
“I have not been to Wrigley,” Horton said. “I can’t wait to get there, though. It’s gonna be an awesome experience. I’m truly blessed to be in this position.”