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Chicago Cubs 2023 MLB Draft Review


See Also: 2023 MLB Draft Database

Draft Theme: Everything But High School Arms.

There’s no clear throughline with Chicago’s 2023 draft. It took a number of different profiles from a number of different demographics. It took high-performing college shortstops like Matt Shaw and Josh Rivera, risky high school hitters with tools like OF Alfonsin Rosario and SS Yahil Melendez, college arms coming off injury like RHP Jaxon Wiggins and college arms who simply didn’t live up to expectations this spring like RHP Will Sanders. If you’re looking for a high school pitcher, though, you won’t find one here. 

Most Interesting Day 2 Pick: RHP Will Sanders, 4th round

A projection righthander out of high school, Sanders ranked as the No. 200 prospect on the 2020 BA 500 thanks to a lanky, 6-foot-5 frame and an upper-80s fastball that scouts expected to be much firmer in just a few years. The projection proved accurate, as Sanders packed on strength to a frame now listed at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds and averaged 93 mph and has touched 98 mph with his fastball at peak velocity. Sanders has logged 50-plus innings each year at South Carolina, and in his 2023 draft year posted a 5.37 ERA over 11 starts and 60.1 innings, with a 27.9% strikeout rate and 9.4% walk rate. He works from a deliberate windup with a more compact arm action than you might expect given his long levers, and throws from a three-quarter slot with downhill angle thanks to a high release point. While he has solid velocity on his fastball, and above-average induced vertical break, the pitch has always played down a bit and been hit hard. This spring hitters managed a 1.109 OPS against the fastball, though he has generated solid whiff rates with a curveball, slider and changeup. He throws his curveball in the low 80s with good depth and 12-to-6 movement, the slider is in the mid 80s with solid tilt and his changeup has long been a solid pitch for him in the mid 80s. Sanders has allowed a high rate of home runs in his career, and could experiment more with a cutter or two-seam fastball at the next level to keep hitters off the barrel more consistently.

Most Interesting Day 3 Pick: LHP Daniel Brown, 16th round

Brown has virtually no track record as a college pitcher, and in the tiny sample of him actually being on the mound he’s been exceptionally erratic. Still, Brown has two things you can’t teach. First, he’s lefthanded and second, he’s been up to 100 mph. Those two factors alone will make him a player to watch for major league scouts, and he was an up-arrow prospect for the industry after the 2022 fall. He’s shown a solid slider as well as big-time fastball velocity. Brown has great arm speed from a 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame and the arm works well, but he’ll need more than scattershot control in order to find success. He’s as high-risk and high-reward as you might find in the 2023 class at the moment. 

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