The Rundown: Cubs Grab Two Electric Pitchers, Losing Streak Ends at Nine, Contreras and Happ Could Be Gone By Next Homestand
“On and on we rode the storm. The flame has died and the fire has gone.” – Def Leppard, Foolin’
When the Cubs selected RHP Cade Horton with the No. 7 pick I was fit to be tied. I had no problem with the trio of Dan Kantrovitz, Jed Hoyer, and Carter Hawkins going under slot, but why not pick Jackson Ferris if that’s that game plan? I’ll never understand the machinations of putting a dollar sign on the muscle, but I’m pretty good at recognizing talent and I’ve felt Ferris was the best pitcher in this draft going back to last autumn.
Jackson Ferris, who might be the top left-handed pitching prospect in the 2022 #MLBDraft class, was absolutely dealing in the @PerfectGameUSA National Showcase. pic.twitter.com/vGdWL3orYn
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 16, 2021
Horton, a draft-eligible sophomore who missed the 2021 season because of Tommy John surgery, put himself into the top 10 with a phenomenal run that culminated with a College World Series finals record 13 strikeouts. His game is all about power, including a high-spin fastball that can reach the upper-90s. That said, helium guys rarely work out. Horton threw just over 50 regular-season innings for Oklahoma and has nothing in his arsenal but a fastball and a slider.
The right-hander had a 7.94 ERA when the regular season concluded and saw more time at third base than on the mound, but he strung together a dominating run during postseason play, posting a 2.61 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 31 innings. I’m skeptical that Horton will be a starter if he ever makes it to the bigs, though most analysts see this pick as a bit of a coup for the Cubs.
Still, you can see why I felt Horton was a wasted draft pick, especially when Brooks Lee, Cam Collier, Gavin Gross, and Kevin Parada were still on the board. I couldn’t follow the draft as closely as I wanted to because I was at a concert, but, I did pay attention to my push notifications. As disappointed as I was with the Horton pick, I was intrigued to see what the Cubs would do at No. 47.
When the Cardinals selected LHP Cooper Hjerpe I started to get mildly excited that Ferris might fall to the Cubs. I had zero confidence he would be selected if he was there though, because it seemed unfathomable that the front office would take pitchers with their top two selections. The Red Sox grabbed shortstop Mikey Romero two picks later. I was ecstatic that the Padres took Robby Snelling at No. 39 because I had him rated a little lower. At that point, I believed Ferris would fall to the Cubs, and then Kantrovitz made my night.
Ferris should not have been available when the Cubs made their second selection. The IMG Academy lefty is the prize of Chicago’s draft, and Horton is going to be the thrift store purchase that allows the club to overpay him. Kantrovitz mapped out this very scenario Sunday morning and surprisingly, it worked out perfectly.
Now Hoyer has to make sure he signs Ferris. The prep star is committed to Ole Miss, and my guess is the president of baseball operations will have to come close to a $4 million signing bonus to make him a Cub. Horton, whose recent performance is lovingly referred to as “Gone in 60 Seconds,” has promise and if he sticks as a starter he will be electric. On potential alone, he has a very Kerry Wood vibe. If everything goes according to plan, a projected rotation of Jordan Wicks, Caleb Kilian, DJ Herz, Horton, and Ferris will be must-see baseball in 3-4 years at The Friendly Confines.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what Chicago’s course of action yesterday says about the organization as a whole. First and foremost, the front office indicated that they are impressed with their collection of infielders and outfielders at Iowa, South Bend, Tennessee, and Myrtle Beach. The successes of each allowed the Cubs to take two pitchers Sunday night.
Further, and assuming Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and David Robertson will indeed be traded, I am betting Hoyer will slightly pivot and his near-term acquisitions will be players who are nearly major league ready. It would be foolish to say Brett Baty is headed to the Cubs because we have no idea where Contreras will end up, but I’m sure the return will be a player of similar ilk. My friend who works for the Brewers was at last night’s Poison-Def Leppard- Mötley Crüe concert with my party and he said Baty is still a target for the Cubs and many other teams. Should the Cubs acquire the power-hitting third baseman, my perception of Hoyer will have done a complete one-eighty.
Cubs News & Notes
- Perhaps it’s best to consider Horton and Ferris as a package deal.
- Horton was rumored to be ticketed for close to a $4 million bonus before the draft (per Fangraphs), which would be a $1.7 million cut. Ferris is said to be looking for “Top 20 money,” which means about $3.5 million, or roughly $2 million above slot at his pick.
- The Cubs do not expect to have any signability issues with Ferris.
- MLB.com ranks Ferris as the third-best left-handed pitcher in the class, and Baseball America grades him as the fifth-best.
- Thanks to a connection with Ed Howard and Pete Crow-Armstrong, Horton said he already feels “at home” with the Cubs.
- Herz and Wicks were both promoted to Double-A Tennessee over the weekend.
- It’s very possible that Contreras and Happ have played their final games at Wrigley Field as members of the home team.
- “Little victories” are fueling Happ in his first All-Star season.
- Reliever Mychal Givens lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader without allowing an earned run.
- Marcus Stroman started Game 1 of the twin bill and ended an up-and-down first half on a high note.
- Yesterday’s 3-2 win over the Mets ended the Cubs’ nine-game losing streak.
- A beaten-up bat rack served as a perfect metaphor for the first half of Chicago’s season.
- For the second time this season, Single-A Myrtle Beach tossed a combined no-hitter.
Odds & Sods
I hope I’m wrong about Horton. Maybe I just have an issue with players whose last names start with “H.” I was negative when the Cubs selected Happ and Hoerner, too.
#Cubs are crushing this draft. Getting Jackson Ferris AND Cade Horton? Come on. Ferris is a long, lanky lefty up to 97 with big ride and a huge breaking ball. Long track record of being a premium guy. Some Yusei Kikuchi in the operation.
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) July 18, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Was it something I said or something I did? Did the words not come out right?” – Poison, Every Rose Has Its Thorn
I don’t know if it’s true or not but I heard last night that the Cubs gave Contreras the ball after his 8th inning single because it is expected he will be traded before the league resumes play later this week. Nico Hoerner had three knocks yesterday and continues to be the team’s best hitter. Chicago was 1-for-9 with RISP on Sunday and 7-for-36 in the four-game set.
- Games Played: 92
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,509
- Total Strikeouts: 822
- Strikeout Rate: 23.43%
- Team Batting Average: .244
- Runs Scored: 386
- Runs Allowed: 472
How About That!
The Mariners will cruise into the break riding a 14-game winning streak.
The Orioles selected shortstop Jackson Holliday with the first overall pick.
The Rangers “broke the draft” when they selected Kumar Rocker at No. 3 overall.
Rocker signed with Texas this morning.
Collier fell all the way to No. 18 where he was selected by the Reds.
A lot of analysts felt the Rays drafted poorly on Sunday.
Pete Alonso will be looking to win his third consecutive title in tonight’s Home Run Derby. I’m still going with Kyle Schwarber.
A bad back will keep Mike Trout out of Tuesday’s game, and Freddie Freeman has been selected as an injury replacement, giving the Dodgers six players on the NL squad.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Dylan Cease – The ex-Cub frequently makes his way into this section and deservedly so. Yesterday he shut down the Twins on one hit over seven innings with eight strikeouts.
- Aaron Nola – The Phillies’ ace has had a rough season but was magnificent yesterday in improving to 6-7. Nola struck out 10 Miami hitters over 7.1 innings as Philadelphia beat the Marlins 4-0.
- Juan Soto – He was 1-for-4 with a solo home run and is only here because rumors have been circulating that the Nationals and Cubs might match up on a Soto trade. That’s ridiculous click-bait and I’m embarrassed I have to mention it. Hoerner deserves this slot.
Welcome to the Cubs, young man.
“I can’t wait to get [to Wrigley Field] … It’s gonna be an awesome experience. I’m truly blessed to be in this position.”
More from #Cubs' first round pick Cade Horton: https://t.co/ZMjEBnDLzq
— Andy Martínez (@amartinez_11) July 18, 2022
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears have a dozen wide receivers in camp competing for 6 or 7 roster spots, but a top three of Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Velus Jones Jr. could give opposing defensive coordinators fits.
- Season 6 of “Better Call Saul” has been the best of the series run. Jimmy/Saul and Kim Wexler are the best sociopathic couple since Bonnie & Clyde.
- The US dollar is giving off Main Character energy. The world’s most important currency, accounting for $6 trillion in daily economic activity pre-pandemic, is the strongest it’s been in 20 years. Just last week, USD hit 1:1 parity against the euro for the first time since 2002.
- Gen Z has been cooped up unfairly for two years, and now they’re on a mission to find some revenge travel.
- Retail gas prices in the US have fallen for 32 straight days as of Saturday, Gas Buddy said, and now stand at an average of $4.532/gallon from their peak of $5.014 last month, per AAA.
- Mick Jagger invited a Ukrainian choir on stage Friday night to sing backup on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
They Said It
- “I had a few talks with my agent and the Cubs were definitely on the radar. I just didn’t know where. My reaction, it’s just, it’s crazy. It doesn’t feel real. I’m just so blessed to be in this position.” – Horton
- “This morning when we sat down with Jed [Hoyer] and Carter [Hawkins] and kinda mapped out what in our minds would be an ideal road map for how the draft would unfold, the first round, Cade was our prime target. Then in the 2nd round, it’s hard to have visibility so you don’t really put too much stock in it, but Jackson was the No. 1 target there as well, thinking that we’d have a little bit of money potentially to spread around. It ended up coming to fruition.” – Kantrovitz
- “I think when you get two arms like that — a high-ceiling, high school lefty that already has probably 3-4 pitches right now that work and somebody with an electric heater and a wipeout slider like Cade has, those are attributes that our pitching development infrastructure can’t wait to get their hands on.” – Kantrovitz
Monday Walk-Up Song
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed last night’s show.