On Jan. 15, 2019, Cade Horton announced a big decision.
“Excited to announce that I have committed to The University Oklahoma to play both baseball and football! #BOOMER,” Horton tweeted.
“It's crazy. It doesn't feel real,” said Horton, who met Chicago media on Zoom after the Cubs made the pick on Sunday.
“I'm just so blessed to be in this position and ready to get to work.”
Horton, who turns 21 next month, grew up playing baseball and football and was a two-sport athlete in high school. In his senior season at Norman High School in Oklahoma, he threw for over 3,000 yards.
But even as he was preparing to be a two-sport athlete in college, Horton knew his future was in baseball.
“I love baseball more than I love football,” said Horton, ranked the No. 24 prospect in the draft by MLB Pipeline.
Horton was a two-way baseball player for the Sooners, but his collegiate career was interrupted before it truly began. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 and missed the entire season.
It wasn't an entirely lost season, though. As Horton went through his adversity, he refocused his efforts on being the best teammate he could while sidelined, trying to lift up those around him.
When Horton returned from his surgery recovery in 2022, he began the year exclusively at third base, shortstop and designated hitter
He didn’t make his collegiate debut on the mound until March 29 and got nine appearances under his belt before postseason play — when he took his performance to another level.
In those first nine appearances, he notched a 7.94 ERA in 22 2/3 innings.
In five postseason starts from then on, he went 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA and 49 strikeouts (six walks) in 31 innings.
That includes an 11-strikeout performance against Notre Dame in the second round of the College World Series.
"In Omaha, that crowd is crazy," Horton said. "It's awesome to be able to be on that stage. You talk about adrenaline."
For as unique as the last three years have been for Horton, the last two months were especially eventful.
“It didn't start off really too good,” he said of his 2022 season. “And then towards the back half of the year and the postseason, I was pretty good and just wanted to take it one pitch at a time in the back half and just focus on hitting a spot and hitting a target.
“It’s been crazy. It's been awesome.”
Horton said he hasn’t ever been to Wrigley Field but has past connections with some Cubs prospects, including 2020 first-round picks Ed Howard and Pete Crow-Armstrong.
He’s ready to continue on in his path and get going with the Cubs.
"It's going to be an awesome experience," Horton said. "I'm truly blessed to be in this position."