Cubs

Why Cubs loaded 2022 draft class with pitching

Cubs

As the 2022 MLB Draft rolled along the past three days, a common trend persisted when the Cubs made their selections.

Almost every round, they drafted a pitcher.

By the time the draft wrapped up Tuesday, only four of the Cubs’ 20 picks were position players — four and a half if you count intriguing two-way prospect Nazier Mule, though the Cubs’ initial plan is to evaluate him on the mound.

Why? 

“It’s just hard to have enough pitching," Cubs VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said over Zoom after the draft wrapped up Tuesday. "It's hard to finish a draft and then be in a position where it's like, ‘Oh, we're not gonna need to sign anybody after the draft.'

“I'm not saying that we're still not gonna even sign more pitchers after the draft. But I think every year it just comes down to you can't have too much of it.”

Of course, the Cubs’ strategy goes beyond the truism there’s no such thing as having too much pitching. Their philosophy is to take the best player available. 

RELATED: Cubs draft picks 2022: Live updates on Day 3

But another element they were mindful of on Day 3 is their minor league depth charts currently have more opportunities for pitchers to get innings compared to the opportunities for hitters to get at-bats.

 

“You want to be careful when you're drafting a player, especially on Day 3, that there's going to be somewhere for him to play and get at-bats," Kantrovitz said.

“We've got a lot of young position players coming up that are going to need those the rest of the summer. And unless we felt like we were drafting somebody that was better than one of them, we didn't want to take away at-bats from an existing prospect.”

Kantrovitz said he would be surprised if the Cubs sign all 20 of their picks but anticipates they'll ink 18-19, which he would be "really happy" with.

The four position players the Cubs drafted are high school shortstop Christopher Paciolla (third round), catcher Haydn McGeary (15th), and outfielders Andy Garriola (17th) and Ke’Shun Collier (20th).

Among the pitchers the Cubs selected after first- and second-round picks Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris are Will Frisch and Mason McGwire — son of Mark McGwire — in the sixth and eighth rounds.

Frisch, drafted out of Oregon State, underwent Tommy John surgery in March, but the Cubs are comfortable with his outlook and makeup after seeing him pitch in recent years and sitting down with him at the MLB Draft Combine in recent weeks.

“He's somebody that, once he gets healthy, I think could turn into a pretty exciting power arm,” Kantrovitz said. “I remember talking to the Oregon State coaches prior to the draft, and they would just rave about his work ethic and how strong he is. 

“Then you kind of size him up in person, and he's got an exceptionally strong pitcher's build. He’s actually a really intelligent kid on top of it.

"We had a lot of confidence that he's going to put these things together and end up being a potentially exciting arm for us down the road.”

MORE: Cubs draft picks 2022: Live updates on Day 2

Kantrovitz knows Mark McGwire from their time together in the Cardinals organization, but the Cubs’ evaluations of Mason — who’s committed to play college ball at Oklahoma — are independent of his last name.

“This is a projectable arm where the fastball is just lively; it comes out easy, comes out hot,” Kantrovitz said. “And then he's got a [splitter] that you don't really see every day on the amateur side. 

“He’s somebody that, despite being a McGwire, we were interested in Mason as a pitcher.”

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