Cubs: Georgia’s Jonathan Cannon should be team’s ultimate draft day target

(Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Imagine stepping into the box as a hitter and seeing a 6’6″, 205-pound flamethrower who has the last name of ‘Cannon’ staring back at you, ready to devour your soul. Descriptively, it may be a bit too far-reaching. Still, the irony is too much in University of Georgia right-hander Jonathan Cannon, who currently ranks as Baseball America’s 42nd overall prospect on their draft board.

The Cubs have the 21st selection in this year’s amateur draft. Last year they continued to build their depth with prep talent with the selection of Mt. Carmel shortstop Ed Howard. This year the prep talent is strong. The collegiate talent is incredibly deep, and that should lead new President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer to dip into the pool.

One area of need for the Cubs is starting pitching. A tier of prospects is led by top overall prospect Brailyn Marquez, followed by some guys who should make strides this season. However, it could always be better. Enter Cannon.

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The new season’s start will see top overall prospect Marquez take another step towards the major leagues when he begins the year at Double-A Tennessee. Others such as Cory Abbott and Tyson Miller will also have an opportunity to continue to build on their strong track record.

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However, outside of Marquez, the Cubs don’t seem to have another guy with the all-important “it” factor. Cannon was not the highest regarded arm in the state of Georgia out of high school. He was the 11th ranked right-handed pitcher and ranked 24th overall.

Nationally, Cannon ranked 236th in the nation. At the time, he had yet to pack on weight. Fast forward two years and Cannon has now climbed into the top 50 of draft prospects.

Now draft-eligible, Cannon has been described as having an elite frame and lightning-quick arm, per his scouting report at Baseball America (subscription required).

Cannon brings a four-pitch mix of a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. His fastball can touch 96 and should be one of his go-to pitches. His changeup should be seen as an above-average pitch, too.

Before the season shut down in 2020, Cannon pitched in relief. He dominated, allowing just four hits in 11 1/3 innings and 12 strikeouts. He walked only two batters. Cannon has made two starts in his first couple of appearances this season for the Bulldogs.

In small sample sizes, the continued dominance has continued as Cannon has thrown six scoreless innings with five strikeouts and zero walks to begin his sophomore year. The hope is that Cannon will continue to progress and grow as a starting option. He could either be seen as a major reach for the Cubs at their current slot or an immense value.

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There is always a risk with guys who begin in relief and move to starting roles, but the sense is Cannon will be able to leap fully. If he continues to display high levels of command, Hoyer and company should consider making the 21-year-old right-hander the organization’s newest face.