Chicago Cubs 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: Infielder James Triantos (2) was one of the most notable late-rising prospects in the 2021 class after reclassifying from 2022. He wowed scouts with his performance this spring and those highest on him thought he could develop into a plus hitter. He performed well in his pro debut this summer with a .327/.376/.594 line in 25 games in the Arizona Complex League.
Best Power Hitter: In addition to receiving plus hitting grades, Triantos has solid thump in his bat and swings with plenty of intent. He homered six times and doubled seven times and his .267 isolated slugging was good for fourth among teenagers in rookie ball with at least 100 plate appearances.
Fastest Runner: Outfielder Christian Franklin (4) doesn’t have the best acceleration and a long finish in his swing means his home-to-first times aren’t always great, but he is a solid runner underway and is quick enough to be a threat on the bases.
Best Defensive Player: Franklin improved his center field defense this spring with Arkansas and is an above-average defender at the position with above-average arm strength and accuracy. He tracks the ball well over his head and has a knack for making impressive leaping catches. He played 17 games in center and two in left during his pro debut.
Best Fastball: Lefthander Drew Gray (3) doesn’t have the biggest velocity you’ll see—sitting in the 90-94 mph range for the most part—but he has a high-spin fastball in the 2600-2700 rpm range that allows the pitch to play up and get whiffs at the top of the zone.
Best Secondary Pitch: Lefthander Jordan Wicks (1) had the best changeup in college baseball last year. It is a real 70-grade offering in the low 80s that he throws with conviction and uses at a heavy clip to both lefties and righties.
Best Pro Debut: Triantos’ hitting ability and power production in his debut makes for an easy decision here, particularly when you think about the fact that he could easily be draft eligible and in high school without advancing a class.
Best Athlete: Franklin ranked as the No. 5 college athlete in the 2021 draft class and is a fairly easy choice for this category in the Cubs’ draft class.
Most Intriguing Background: Righthander Dominic Hambley (18) was one of five players drafted directly out of Canada in this draft class (there were other Canadians who transferred and were drafted out of other states in the US) and was committed to Oregon State, but the Cubs were able to sign him for $200,000 in the 18th round.
Closest To The Majors: Wicks is a polished collegiate strike thrower with a deep and solid arsenal, a long track record of performance and one of the higher floors in the class.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): Righthander Zac Leigh (16) started 15 games for Texas State this spring, but pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his pro debut and was excellent in a short 8.2 innings. He posted a 1.04 ERA while striking out 17 and walking three, and he showed a fastball in the upper 90s with a plus breaking ball as well.
The One Who Got Away: The Cubs didn’t sign three players in the class, but prep righthander Gage Ziehl (11) tops the list here, with a fastball up to 95 mph and great feel to spin a quality slider. Chicago also didn’t come to terms with outfielder Teo Banks (12) and righthander Daniel Avitia (19).