Cubs wrap up final day of draft with a run on collegiate pitchers, including a hard-throwing lefty
The Cubs put a bow on the 2023 MLB Draft by taking six collegiate arms, three collegiate hitters and a high school hitter.
Senior VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz and the rest of the Cubs draft nucleus started the process by taking Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw with the 13th pick. They added college righty Jaxon Wiggins from Arkansas with their second-round compensatory pick. On day two of the draft, they took four collegiate hitters, two high school hitters and two collegiate pitchers.
Now, the Cubs will have until July 25 to come to terms with their 20 selections, per MLB Pipeline.
“We’re really happy with the way it unfolded,” Kantrovitz said at the conclusion of the draft. “There’s always a chance that there’s some surprises that crop up between now and the signing deadline and potentially a little leakage in certain places, but for the most part when you look at it as a whole, I wouldn’t expect the signing process to be too eventful in a positive way.”
The Cubs started day three of the draft by taking high school outfielder Zyhir Hope in the 11th round. Hope hit .530 with 9 home runs, 29 stolen bases and a .663 on-base percentage at Colonial Forge High School in Virginia. He’s committed to the University of North Carolina. Hope was the third high school hitter the Cubs took this year.
“The younger a player is and the less of a performance track record they have, the more I think we probably, as an industry — and probably our strategy is — try to lean on some tools,” Kantrovitz said. “The toolsier a player is, the more options, the more pathways they probably have to succeed.”
In the 12th round, the Cubs took North Carolina State second baseman Carter Trice. In three years at Old Dominion University and NC State, Trice has hit .308 with 37 home runs, 122 RBI and 33 stolen bases.
The Cubs took 5 straight college pitchers in rounds 13 through 17, two third baseman in rounds 18 and 20 and a right-handed pitcher in round 19:
13th round: Sam Armstrong, RHP, Old Dominion University (2023: 9-4, 3.51 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 77 IP)
14th round: Grayson Moore, RHP, Vanderbilt University (2023: 1-0, 3.08 ERA, 36 strikeouts, 26.1 IP)
15th round: Ty Johnson, RHP, Ball State University (2023: 4-3, 4.53 ERA, 68 strikeouts, 53.2 IP)
16th round: Daniel Brown, LHP, Campbell University, (2023: 4 G, 1 IP, 9 BBs, 3 strikeouts, 54.00 ERA)
17th round: Ethan Flanagan, LHP, UCLA, (2023: 5-1, 5.12 ERA, 31 strikeouts, 31.2 IP)
18th round: Brian Kalmer, 3B, Gonzaga, (2023: .358/.454/.682, 15 HR, 51 RBI)
19th round: Nick Dean, RHP, Maryland, (2023: 3-2, 5.54 ERA, 77 strikeouts, 74.2 IP)
20th round: Drew Bowser, 3B, Stanford, (2023: .270/.342/.512, 14 HR, 48 RBI)
Arguably the most intriguing pick in the later rounds was Brown in the 16th round. His fastball touched 100-mph, but he pitched in just 4 games and recorded just 1 inning pitched.
“I think that’s a good one, that probably should raise some eyebrows,” Kantrovitz said. “Had a little difficulty, I think, probably finding the zone. But, frankly, to be fair to him, probably didn’t really get the chance that a guy with that kind of arm strength, probably in our estimation, deserved.
“We want to give him that chance.”
The Cubs pitching infrastructure has Kantrovitz and the rest of the organization believing that Brown can excel with that chance. Assistant GM/VP of pitching Craig Breslow and his department — along with director of hitting Justin Stone — were involved in the draft process, working in tandem with Kantrovitz and his team to not only just find talent, but make sure it’s the type of talent that they can develop and maximize.
“It’s invaluable,” Kantrovitz said. “We’re involved — it’s [Breslow], it’s myself, it’s other folks from player development, some folks from [research and development. It’s just a really nice collaboration when you have this many resources.”