The Cubs had been connected to several players at the No. 7 pick in the draft, three of whom were available when their turn came up. But rather than selecting college shortstop Brooks Lee, high school shortstop Cam Collier, or college catcher Kevin Parada, they went way off the board with righty Cade Horton. Not only was Horton nowhere near the top 10 on any boards, but he missed the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery and made only 14 appearances this past season.
Maybe he just smelled too good to pass on.
Cade Horton just got picked 8th overall due to a slider that is about 2 months old. But what you may not know, and what the cubs won’t tell you, is @cadehorton14 smells phenomenal pic.twitter.com/f2Rtbz97V5
— Stephen Schoch (@bigdonkey47) July 17, 2022
The best explanation for this pick is that the Cubs are hoping to sign Horton for well under the $5.708 million slot value in order to roll the surplus into their next pick(s). Perhaps that means they’ve got their eye on a prep player who they’ll have to buy out of his college commitment, similar to how they landed James Triantos last year. Even with that possibility in mind, this feels like they got a little too cute and may have passed on the best available player.
All that said, Horton could end up being a very good pitcher if he’s able to further develop a changeup to go with his mid-90s stuff. He’s got a nice slider and should have a ton of upside because he won’t turn 21 until August and just had the one partial season of college experience. If he’s able to put things together, we could even be looking at a fast mover through the system.
We’ll know more once we see who the Cubs take in the second round.