Cade Horton RHP
2023 Level(s): Low-A Myrtle Beach, High-A South Bend, AA Tennessee
Joined the organization via: First Round Pick in the 2022 Draft
2023 Stats: 88.1 IP, 2.65 ERA, 117/27 K/BB
Cade Horton is perhaps the only player who would give Owen Caissie a run for his money in the battle for Best Cubs Prospect of 2023. I’m not sure that any pitching prospect in baseball had a more impressive season than Horton did between three levels of the minors last season.
When the Cubs spent their first-round pick on Horton there was plenty of concern surrounding him. He was a player who had tremendous helium due to a spectacular showing in the College World Series, but in his career at Oklahoma, he was mediocre at best. In his draft season he pitched to a 4.86 ERA over 53.2 innings and posted a 10.7 K/9; not quite what you’re looking for from a top-15 pick in the MLB Draft.
Last season, however, he pitched out of his mind. He opened the season with four games at Low-A and absolutely dominated the young hitters there. He was still young for the level but he earned a 1.26 ERA and had a 13.2 K/9 while walking just 2.5 per nine.
He was then called up to High-A South Bend where he spent the majority of his season and put up solid numbers. He pitched 47 innings and had a 3.83 ERA while striking out 12.4 batters and walking 2.3 batters per nine innings.
His most impressive stint though came at the end of the season when he pitched 27 innings at AA Tennessee and posted a 2.67 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. It would have been great to see the strikeouts and walks remain at their pristine levels he had earlier in the season but what Horton showed was that he wasn’t running out of gas despite pitching deeper into a season than he ever had before.
Coming into 2024 he will likely start the year at AA before going to Iowa and joining a rotation that will be as good as any in the minors. In all likelihood, the Iowa rotation will feature Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown, Hayden Wesneski, and Caleb Kilian and Horton has a higher upside than all of them put together due to his propensity to strike batters out and not allow walks. This should be a fun season to watch his continued development.