Cubs continue pitching focus on Day 2 of draft

The Cubs continued a heavy emphasis on pitching during Day 2 of the MLB Draft, which included Rounds 3-10.

The Cubs picked seven straight right-handed pitchers Monday, after going with high school shortstop Christopher Paciolla from California in Round 3. This was on the heels of choosing right-hander Cade Horton from Oklahoma and lefty Jackson Ferris from IMG Academy in the first two rounds Sunday.

Their fourth-round pick, Nazier Mule from Passaic Tech High School in New Jersey, will probably end up as a position player, but was announced as a pitcher.

The rest of their Monday pitching selections were, in order, Brandon Birdsell from Texas Tech, Will Frisch from Oregon State, Nick Hull from Grand Canyon, Mason McGwire from Capistrano Valley (Calif.) High School, Connor Noland from Arkansas and Brody McCullough from Wingate (N.C.) University.

Birdsell was named Big 12 pitcher of the year this spring. Frisch did not play this season after having Tommy John surgery. McGwire is the son of former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire and attended the same high school as Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

The draft continues with Rounds 11-20 on Tuesday.

Cubs try bonus strategy:

As soon as the Cubs chose Oklahoma pitcher Cade Horton with the No. 7 pick, much earlier than expected, their strategy became clear. Horton likely agreed to sign for a smaller bonus than what is slotted for the seventh pick.

The savings allows the Cubs to offer larger bonuses to later picks. Their next three selections were pitcher Jackson Ferris, who's been committed to Mississippi for two years; shortstop Christopher Paciolla, a UCLA commit; and two-way player Nazier Mule, a Miami (Fla.) commit.

The Cubs are confident they can sign all three, but that remains to be seen. MLB Pipeline had Ferris rated higher (No. 19) than Horton (No. 24) on its list of top prospects.

Cubs scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said 10 different scouts watched Ferris in person and appreciated the tough competition IMG Academy faced.

"He's throwing complete games and showing off four pitches and going multiple times through the order and showing an ability to make in-game adjustments," Kantrovitz said. "This is somebody with a full repertoire and once he adds a little weight to his (6-foot-4) frame, I think he's pretty ripe to add power across his full mix."

Home visit recalled:

Cade Horton had the baseball world buzzing with games of 11 and 13 strikeouts at the College World Series, but it was still a surprise when he went to the Cubs with the No. 7 pick.

Scouting director Dan Kantrovitz already had a feel for Horton's makeup, though, having made a home visit with area scout Ty Nichols when Horton was a two-sport athlete at Norman (Okla.) High School.

"If you would have asked me two months ago if Cade Horton was going to be a top target on the road map, I might have been a little skeptical," Kantrovitz said. "But then fast forward and just witness the trajectory of somebody like that, how much he improved, how easily he was able to pick up another pitch (slider)."

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