Get to know Jordan Wicks, the Cubs’ 2021 1st-round draft pick
The Cubs are looking to add another Wick to the organization.
With the 21st pick in the 2021 MLB Draft Sunday night, the Cubs selected left-handed pitcher Jordan Wicks out of Kansas State. Once he signs, he will join right-hander Rowan Wick and fellow southpaw Brad Wieck in the Cubs system.
“It could get kinda complicated if you’re trying to keep track of that,” Cubs VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz admitted, laughing. “That’s gonna be a fun one.”
Wicks, 21, played 3 years at K-State and becomes the program’s first ever 1st-round pick. He owns school records for strikeouts — both single-season (118) and career (230).
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound southpaw went 6-3 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across 15 starts in 2021 and his 118 whiffs came in 92.1 innings (11.5 K/9).
Here’s the scouting report on his arsenal, per MLB.com:
Wicks has the best changeup in the Draft, a low-80s weapon with tumble and depth that he sells with deceptive arm speed, earning plus-plus grades from some evaluators. He sets it up with a fastball that has added about 5 mph since high school, now sitting at 90-93 mph and hitting 95 with high spin rates that give it riding action. He has improved his low-80s slider to the point where it’s now a solid offering, and he also can morph it into a harder cutter and mix in an upper-70s curveball.
The Cubs had Wicks in the Top 10 on their internal list heading into the Draft and were ecstatic to see him still on the board at pick No. 21. He was ranked as the No. 16 prospect in the draft by MLB.com.
The Cubs project Wicks to stick in the rotation as he develops throughout the system.
“It’s a combination of the track record he’s got, the scouting evaluations, our assessment of his stuff and just the complete package of somebody that we think has the resiliency to be a big-league starter,” Kantrovitz said. “You look at the Draft and to get who we thought was the best college left-hander with the 21st pick, we didn’t anticipate that happening. When it did, we weren’t gonna pass him up.”
The Cubs had eight different scouts see Wicks pitch in person this spring and Kantrovitz also saw him firsthand. They held a preseason Zoom with Wicks and met him in person at the Draft Combine in late June.
“[We were] blown away with how thoughtful he was about his repertoire, about his intent, about his work ethic, about his routine and just his gameplan when he goes out there,” Kantrovitz said.
Wicks went into those meetings looking to make an impression.
“I told them about how I felt like I could develop and how I felt like I could help their organization,” Wicks said. “What I wanted to show is what I feel like sets me apart, which is the mental side of the game for me. One of the biggest things I thought sitting there — I’m gonna show what’s different about me. I’m gonna show what my edge is.
“What I really wanted to show them was my baseball IQ, my competitiveness, how self-aware I am, how much I know myself. Those are the big selling points for me. They obviously could see what I could do on the field — they could measure velocity, spin rate, all that sort of stuff. But I really wanted to give them an inside look on me and who I am.”
Wicks watches a lot of baseball and is intrigued about the ability to pick Kyle Hendricks’ brain and potentially play for a historic team like the Cubs.
He was at Conway High School in Arkansas for the magical run in 2016 and his coaches at the time were big Cubs fans.
“Obviously they were really invested in that season,” Wicks said. “Being there as they’re going through the ups and downs of that series and the turns and stuff was super cool. I kinda had an idea yesterday and throughout the morning today that it might be the Cubs and my thought was just, ‘man, those guys are gonna be going crazy.’
“It’s awesome. It’s crazy how life takes these kinds of turns and makes these connections. I just couldn’t be happier.”
Wicks joins Ed Howard (16th overall, 2020) as the 1st-round picks under Kantrovitz, who joined the organization in 2019.
Wicks was recommended by area scout Ty Nichols.