First-round pick Wicks was happy to drop to Cubs at No. 21
The Cubs didn't think pitcher Jordan Wicks would be available when they picked No. 21 in Sunday's first round of the MLB Draft. But it could turn out to be a perfect match.
Wicks said he was hoping to end up with the Cubs, for a variety of reasons.
"I think it's just their understanding of what it takes to get to the big leagues," Wicks said on a Zoom call with reporters. "They've got a history with developing pitching, they've got guys with some of the best changeups in the game when you talk about Kyle Hendricks right now, Zach Davies.
"And it was something where the history of the organization stands out. Every time you hear about the Cubs, it's one of those historical organizations that you see in the movies. To be wearing that jersey was just a surreal feeling."
The native of Conway, Arkansas said as the draft approached, he got the impression he would end up with the Cubs.
"When we got to 21, I definitely had chills as that clock was counting down, just having the idea that my name was going to be called," he said. "It was a moment I'll never forget."
Most of the mock drafts had the Kansas State junior going in the 14-18 range. This spring, Wicks posted a 6-3 record and 3.70 ERA, with 118 strikeouts and 28 walks in 92 innings pitched.
Cubs scouting director Dan Kantrovitz called Wicks the best college left-hander in the draft and raved about the quality of Wicks' changeup.
"On the scouting scale (it's a) 60 changeup, which is a major-league, above-average changeup," Kantrovitz said. "But it does stand out, and we had it evaluated as the best changeup in the draft.
"In this case, it's something he can use versus both left-handers and right-handers, which is fairly unique for a changeup. He also has a slider, which is a pretty potent weapon for him. His fastball is low to mid-90s."
Even though it seemed like a long shot, Kantrovitz said the Cubs did scout Wicks in person multiple times this spring and had a lengthy interview at the first MLB scouting combine a few weeks ago.
"We were blown away to the extent of how thoughtful he was about his repertoire, about his intent, about his work ethic, about his routine," Kantrovitz said. "He could talk about when he wanted to use his two-seamer and four-seamer, when he wanted to manipulate the shape on his slider."
Wicks said he took the combine interview as a chance to sell himself to the Cubs.
"What I wanted to show is what I feel like sets me apart, which is the mental side of the game for me," he said.
The next step will be heading to Arizona with the other Cubs rookies, but Kantrovitz wasn't sure if Wicks will do any more pitching this summer.
"He's thrown quite a few innings this year, so I wouldn't be surprised if we limit his innings the rest of the summer," he said. "Next year, it will be sort of up to him where he is placed out of spring training."
The Cubs chose nine players in rounds 2-10 on Tuesday. Their second round pick was third baseman James Triantos from James Madison (Va.) High School; followed by another left-handed pitcher, Drew Gray from IMG Academy.
They chose an in-state player in the sixth round, Quincy University left-handed pitcher Riley Martin, a Salem native. They also took two players from the University of Arkansas, outfielder Christian Franklin and catcher Casey Opitz.
The Cubs' first 10 picks included eight college players, six position players and four pitchers.
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