The Cubs took the pitcher with Baseball America’s top-ranked changeup and third-rated command among college pitchers in the draft when they selected Kansas State left-hander Jordan Wicks.
Wicks, who also has a fastball in the low-to-mid-90s, was the 10th pitcher taken in the draft — seventh college pitcher.
“It’s incredible,” Wicks said. “Coming from an organization that has so much history, I couldn’t be more excited to be in that city and be in Chicago and get to work. I’m super excited to be in an organization like that. I couldn’t be happier.”
Wicks seems well aware of the transition/rebuild the Cubs are going through this year.
“I’m excited to get in there and compete. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s a team that we can definitely compete. I want to get in there and work my way up through the organization and see what they want to do. And just work my butt off.”
He’s also especially familiar with franchise history, watching games and talking a lot of Cubs with his two Cub-fan prep coaches during high school.
“Obviously you know about the World Series drought and winning it in ’16,” he said. “It’s something where I’m going to go in there and we’re not going to wait that long. We’re going to get after it and get back to that World Series, and we’re going to win.”
Wicks is the first Kansas State baseball player ever drafted in the first round.
It was the third time in four years the Cubs drafted outside the top 20 overall — but only the 12th time since the draft began in 1965.
One of those picks, 24th overall pick Nico Hoerner of Stanford in 2018, reached the majors the following season and has been one of the Cubs’ better hitters when healthy this season.
The Cubs have had the 21st overall pick in one other draft: when they took Rutgers right-hander Bobby Brownlie in 2002.
Brownlie, who was drafted four spots behind Cole Hamels and four spots ahead of Matt Cain, never reached the majors.
What in recent years was a 40-round major-league draft was cut in 2020 to five because of the pandemic (and consequent cancelation of the minor-league season) before this year's edition was restored to 20 rounds in the aftermath an MLB player-development overhaul that involved significant minor-league contraction. MLB is discussing a return to 40 rounds next year.
Contributing from Denver: Maddie Lee