After taking righty Cade Horton out of Oklahoma with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, the Cubs opted for lefty Jackson Ferris out of IMG Academy 40 picks later. Viewed by many as one of the top prep arms in the draft, Ferris may have slipped due to concerns over the ability to sign him away from his commitment to Ole Miss. But if the Cubs can get Horton for a little less than his slot value, they might be able to use that surplus to keep Ferris out of Oxford.
A lanky pitcher with long levers that have made his delivery difficult to repeat, Ferris can touch 97 mph on the fastball and has a big curveball that profiles as a plus pitch. He also has a solid changeup with good movement, so he’s working with three good pitches at a young age. He faced top talent at IMG and the Cubs likely believe he can clean up some of the mechanical concerns with professional instruction.
It may be premature to say this is the other shoe dropping from the surprising first pick, but Ferris definitely feels like a high-upside pitcher who shouldn’t have been available this late in the draft. If there’s a negative to what the organization has done so far, it’s that taking pitchers with their top two picks doesn’t provide a ringing vote of confidence for the arms they’ve currently got in the system.
On the other hand, GM Carter Hawkins is known as a pitching specialist and a quick look at the Cubs’ top prospect list reveals a preponderance of position players. This may just be a matter of balancing the scales a bit as the team preps for a future that will have to include trading from what Jed Hoyer recently referred to as “prospect currency.”