Because of a slightly unexpected fall on draft night, the Cubs managed to snag the top collegiate left-handed starter with the 21st overall pick. Most rankings services had Jordan Wicks rated and mocked in the early or mid teens. The Kansas State hurler earned Big 12 Freshman of the year honors in 2019, then dominated two summer leagues in 2020 after his college season was ended by the pandemic 4 starts in. Despite the truncated 2020 season, Wicks still managed to set the school record for career strikeouts (230) thanks to posting the school single season high this spring (118).
Early in the season Wicks was registering 94-95 on the radar gun with his fastball with some regularity, but eventually settled in at 91-93. Had he maintained that velo jump Wicks could have jumped into the top ten prospects. Even at the lower end, Wicks reportedly generates good spin and carry on the pitch, but against advanced hitters my guess is he will need to command it well.
Thankfully, Wicks is a good athlete with the fluidity and strength to repeat his delivery throughout starts. He is rated as having among the best command of this draft class, with the ability to work both sides of the plate as well as the top and bottom of the zone. Nothing I’ve seen raises reliever concerns.
If Wicks could ever lock in a couple more mphs it would only further enhance his best pitch: the changeup. He has great feel for the offering, maintains his arm speed well, while generating excellent separation (about 10 mph off his fastball) and tumble when located down in the zone. It is easily a plus offering at its best, with some scouts rating it plus-plus. Opponents hit just .160 with a 50% swing and miss rate against the pitch this season.
Wicks also featured an improved slider in 2021. It still looks pretty average in my looks, but I’ve also heard he can manipulate it into more of a cutter. His curveball grades out below average, so it is possible he scraps that pitch, but the Cubs frequently have pitchers experiment with multiple curveball grips throughout their time in the Minors. Tommy Hottovy seems like a proponent of the spike curveball grip, and there has been some success stories throughout the organization developing better curves, so maybe Wicks can make similar strides.
That would give him four viable pitches (including a go to whiff generator) along with the command and stamina necessary to start, which profiles well as a middle of the rotation starter. And if there is one thing the Cubs need more of in their system it is starters with that type of profile.
MLB Futures Game
The Cubs sent two representatives to Colorado for the MLB Futures Game yesterday. One will be flying home carrying the MVP trophy from the event.
If you’ve been a reader of this site, or any other devoted to Cubs prospects over the past two years, then you should know Brennen Davis is rapidly developing into an exciting young power hitter. Now, a national audience is aware of that fact after Davis launched a pair of homers into the mile high sky:
Put some respect on that man’s name! Brennen Davis with two taters in the Futures Game! pic.twitter.com/bfvyIkREKb— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) July 11, 2021
Overshadowed, sure. But Cubs reliever prospect Manuel Rodriguez showed well in his inning of work as well, showing off his upper-90s heat: