Cubs finish draft with pitchers of all backgrounds

The Cubs' heavy emphasis on pitching continued through the third and final day of the MLB Draft.

The final position count was 16 pitchers (14 right-handers and two lefties), two outfield, one shortstop and one catcher. Scouting director Dan Kantrovitz projected the team will be able to sign around 18 or 19 of the players drafted.

"Right now when we look at our depth charts, there were a lot more places (in the minor leagues) where pitchers could get innings than where hitters would be able to get at-bats," Kantrovitz said. "It's hard to have enough pitching."

There were some interesting picks along the way. In the fourth round, the Cubs chose Nazier Mule, a high school player from Patterson, N.J., who was highly-ranted as both a pitcher and hitter.

"We have some scouts that are really excited about him offensively too," Kantrovitz said. "He's just a dynamic, exceptional athlete. I think the way we've planned it out internally is we're going to first evaluate him as a pitcher, but remain open-minded as far as how his role might evolve."

Kantrovitz suggested the Cubs might be willing to try him as a two-way player. Now that the Angels' Shohei Ohtani has shown it can be done, maybe MLB is ready for a closer who walks to the mound from another position.

In Round 14, the Cubs took Georgia senior Shane Marshall, who was essentially a backup catcher for four years, and faced just two batters on the mound last spring. But he pitched enough to show off an intriguing arm.

"There's no plans for Shane to do anything but pitch once he gets in the organization," Kantrovitz said. "Our scouts have seen some pretty special fastball out of him."

In Round 15, they took Haydn McGeary, a catcher from Division 2 Colorado Mesa. All he did was hit 35 home runs in 57 games this spring and finished college with a .448 career batting average.

Kantrovitz said McGeary attended a predraft camp at the Cubs complex in Mesa, Ariz., so they were able to evaluate his tools and how he'll fare against better competition.

The Cubs hope they got a bargain in Oregon State pitcher Will Frisch in Round 6, since he had Tommy John surgery before the season and never took the mound.

"Once he gets healthy, I think could turn into a pretty exciting power arm," Kantrovitz said. "The Oregon State coaches would rave about his work ethic. He's got an exceptionally strong pitcher's build and he's actually a really intelligent kid on top of it."

The Cubs jumped on the legacy trend by drafting high school pitcher Mason McGwire, son of former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, in the eighth round.

The rest of the Day 3 picks included more power arms with left-handed pitcher Brandon Noriega and Fort Wayne, Ind. native Mathew Peters, who was clocked at 101 mph this spring at Ivy Tech Community College. Venezuela pitcher Luis Rujano, a South Florida commit, might be tough to sign.

The Cubs also took pitchers J.P. Wheat from Next Level Academy (Ala.), Garrett Brown from Georgia and Brock Blatter from Billings, Mont., along with two outfielders - Old Dominion's Andy Garriola and Ke'Shun Collier from Meridien (Miss.) Community College.

Mervis moves up:

Scouting director Dan Kantrovitz confirmed that first baseman Matt Mervis will move up from Double A Tennessee to Triple A Iowa after the all-star break. Between South Bend and Tennessee, Mervis is has hit .317 with 21 home runs and 80 RBI this season.

Mervis, 24, was one of the undrafted free agents to sign with the Cubs after the five-round pandemic draft of 2020. The Washington, D.C. native was a two-way player in college at Duke.

Area draftees:

Two local players chosen in the later rounds were Hinsdale Central third baseman Luke Adams, who went to the Brewers in the 12th round, while Hersey grad Quinn Gudaitis, a 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher from Illinois-Springfield, went to the Tigers in the 16th round.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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