How have the Cubs fared with recent first-round picks?

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Last week, the Cubs took right-handed college pitcher Cade Horton with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. As most of the top players in a draft class will take, at a minimum, a few years to make it to the majors, it’s far too soon to make any sort of informed judgment on this year’s draftees. However, lets take a look back at previous draft classes and see if it was a hit or miss for the Cubs, and if they passed on anyone more notable who could have made a bigger impact.

As no player selected in the first round of the 2021 draft is in the majors yet, it is still a little too early to argue if the Cubs made the right call drafting Jordan Wicks, but let’s jump back to the 2020 draft, where the Cubs took Chicago native Ed Howard with the 16th overall pick.

Howard has yet to be called up and suffered a brutal hip injury early this year, so the jury’s still very much out on how that pick will look down the road.However, there is one player the Cubs passed on that catches my eye in Masyn Winn, who was drafted 54th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Winn was in this year’s Futures Game, where he made the highlight reels by firing a 100 MPH throw from shortstop to first base. Howard has not been in a Futures Game yet, so seeing another shortstop in the game’s marquee prospect showcase, especially one the Cubs passed on, could be seen as a miss for the Cubs.

In 2019, the Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Ryan Jensen with the 27th overall pick. Pitchers are some of the hardest to draft, as they truly are hit or miss players. However, Jensen, a 24-year-old, is not even on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, and that is nerve-wracking to see. Just three picks later, the Yankees selected their current top prospect, Anthony Volpe 30th overall, and at 32nd overall was the Astros’ top prospect, Korey Lee.

I understand the Cubs may have wanted to take pitching in the first round, and as Lee and Volpe are not pitchers, with the 28th overall pick, the Brewers selected their eighth overall prospect, left-handed pitcher Ethan Small. Right now, the 2019 pick is a big swing and a miss in my books.

Four years ago, the Cubs took Nico Hoerner with the 24th overall pick. Hoerner has been fantastic in 2022 for Chicago, emerging as the star the Cubs were hoping he would become when they drafted him. As bright as his future is, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer (along with every other team) whiffed by not taking Shane McClanahan, who went #31 overall to Tampa Bay.

Still, you could do far worse than coming away with a player of Hoerner’s caliber. 2018 certainly isn’t a loss – but there were other paths the team could have taken.

Cubs really missed in the draft following their World Series title

The last draft I want to talk about is the 2017 draft, which, of course, came on the heels of the team’s 2016 World Series run. With the 27th overall pick, the Cubs selected left-handed pitcher Brendon Little. Little, a 25-year-old pitcher, is not on the 40-man roster, and is currently with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. This pick was a massive bust, especially since the following pick was the Blue Jays 2020 #1 prospect, pitcher Nate Pearson.

Also in the draft, the Cubs passed on the current Padres #2 prospect, catcher Luis Campusano. They also passed on the Royals #1 prospect, catcher MJ Melendez. The fact that Little isn’t even on the 40-man roster, and has been with the team since 2017, just shows that there is a very small chance that Little will become something, whereas Pearson, Campusano and Melendez are all promising top prospects in their respective systems.

Next. Ranking the 5 best players ever drafted by the Cubs. dark

The MLB Draft is clearly a crapshoot. Players in the first round can be major busts whereas players in the late rounds can emerge as stars. Analyzing who is drafted right off the bat is risky because really, no one knows if they will be good or bad. They have years to develop in the minors before they make it to the majors – which is far from a certainty in and of itself.