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Revisiting the 2023 Cubs MLB Draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.
Best Pure Hitter: Shortstop Matt Shaw (1) had one of the better pro debuts of the draft class, and hit .357/.400/.618 across three levels, while pushing to Double-A Tennessee. Shaw has a chance for an above-average hit tool, while the Cubs are also high on the pure hitting ability of catcher Michael Carico (5), who was limited by injuries this spring with Davidson, though he did hit .350/.514/.688 in 21 games.
Best Power Hitter: Shaw (1) and first baseman Brian Kalmer (18) might be the obvious names here given their home run production in their pro debuts—eight and 10 home runs, respectively—but they are also older and more physically advanced. A projection candidate for this category is outfielder Alfonsin Rosario (6), who has some moving parts in his swing but does have significant raw power. His 90th-percentile exit velocity of 108.3 mph in his pro debut was actually the best of any Chicago draftee, so hitting the ball hard is not an issue.
Fastest Runner: Both Shaw and Rosario have solid run tools to go along with their power, but neither comes close to the pure speed that outfielder Zyhir Hope (11) can provide. He was the third-fastest runner at the 2022 East Coast Pro, and clocked an 80-grade time at 6.34 seconds.
Best Defensive Player: Outfielder Brett Bateman (8) is a plus runner and smooth defender in the outfield who can play all three outfield positions, but should do more than enough to stick in center field, where he has above-average or plus defensive potential.
Best Fastball: Righthander Jaxon Wiggins (2c) didn’t pitch at all in 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he’s been a flamethrower when healthy and has previously pitched in the 94-95 mph range and touched 97 mph. He has a tall frame and gets above-average extension down the mound, which could also help the heater play up.
Best Secondary Pitch: Wiggins (2c) has a chance for an above-average slider to pair with his fastball. The pitch is thrown in the mid 80s, and at Arkansas he used it to generate a 35% miss rate over the course of his career.
Best Pro Debut: Both Shaw (1) and Kalmer (18) had excellent debuts and posted OPS marks north of 1.000. You could go with Shaw if you prefer his age, position, prospect status and the fact that he reached Double-A, or you could lean towards Kalmer, who put up his numbers with significantly less expectations as an 18th-round selection.
Best Athlete: Matt Shaw
Most Intriguing Background: Lefthander Daniel Brown (16) is potentially the most raw player in the 2023 draft class, but he has immense natural arm talent from the left side and athleticism to dream on. His control is arguably below the bottom of the scale, and he has very little feel for where the ball is going currently, but he has also been in the upper 90s from the left side. It’s a lottery ticket–type selection that isn’t likely to pan out, but the Cubs are taking a shot on his pure stuff. That seems exceedingly reasonable in the 16th round for $150,000.
Closest To The Majors: Unsurprisingly, Shaw (1), the first rounder who has already reached Double-A, is the pick here. He won’t have to play shortstop at the big league level in this system any time soon, which should allow him to focus on mashing.
Best Day Three Pick (Or NDFA): An 18th rounder who led all draftees (along with Rangers first rounder Wyatt Langford) with 10 home runs is a strong first start, so Kalmer is the obvious name here. His exit velocity numbers were actually lower than you might expect from an older, college first baseman with those home run totals in 35 games, but he hits the ball with excellent angles to maximize his power output.