Early this summer, the Chicago Cubs turned plenty of heads when they selected Cade Horton with the #7 overall pick. Though many had Horton near the top of the board when it came to pitchers, absolutely nobody had him pegged as a top 10 pick. As confusing as it was at the time, it actually makes a lot of sense when you look at the state of Cubs rumors heading into the offseason.
The World Series hasn’t even started yet and, already, Chicago has been connected to multiple superstar free agent shortstops. So how does this relate to the Cubs’ selection of Horton in the MLB Draft?
Cubs had a plan in place – and it revolves around signing a star shortstop
Simple. The guy everyone wanted the Cubs to pick, or the guy who was “best available” when the Cubs were on the clock was a shortstop by the name of Brooks Lee. Lee is already the number #32 prospect in the game according to MLB Pipeline, so the fact the Cubs passed on a top guy that automatically would have been their new #2 prospect for someone that wasn’t really on anyone’s radar seemed like a rather questionable decision.
Maybe the Cubs knew they wouldn’t be needing Lee because they were already dead-set on landing an All-Star free agent shortstop this winter. Unless they are really that high on Horton’s potential, it is the only version of this scenario that makes sense to me. If you’re Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins, why pass on someone you are high on, such as Horton, just to land the “best available” shortstop if you know he’s going to get blocked in the farm system anyway because you’re planning on signing someone who will hold down the position for years to come?
Aside from that, the Cubs front office, particularly Hawkins, has done a phenomenal job scouting talent. His forte is scouting and developing pitching, and after seeing how well the Cubs have done in the minors developing pitching this year, I’m willing to put my trust in the front office to continue strengthening the farm. Clearly, it speaks volume to your organization’s ability to develop pitchers when several prospects have breakout seasons across all levels of the minors.
The key now will, of course, be actually landing that superstar shortstop. If Chicago fails to do so, passing on an automatic top 100 prospect for a guy much further down the list is a gamble that could severely tarnish your reputation moving forward. On the flip side of that coin, if the Cubs do land their guy(s) in free agency and Horton turns into a beast, the Cubs front office just might be the most genius in baseball. To be optimistic, history is already on Hawkins’ and Hoyer’s side.
Let’s not forget the Cubs just traded Scott Effross at the 2022 trade deadline for Hayden Wesneski, which now seems like an absolute steal by the Cubs front office after seeing what Wesneski has done in a Cubs uniform so far. If you want an example of Hawkins’ expertise, look no further than this move as it already has had an immediate and positive impact for the Cubs starting rotation and hopes to continue doing so for years to come.
Despite what some thought, it’s clear the Cubs have had a plan all along. The coming months, of course, will be the time to put it into action on the big stage.Landing one of the key shortstops available will completely explain club’s draft day decisions allow fans to trust in the process once again.