Chicago Cubs News: Cubs take RHP Jax Wiggins in the 2nd Round of 2023 MLB Draft

The Chicago Cubs selected an injured college pitcher, Jax Wiggins, with significant bullpen risk and there is reason to be excited for the selection.
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Jax Wiggins was the Chicago Cubs' pick in the second compensatory round out of the University of Arkansas. There are extremely mixed reviews on him considering his enormous fastball and potentially devastating slider juxtaposed against his inability to keep the ball in the strike zone as a sophomore and the injury that knocked him out of his junior season.

That being said, the Cubs could have been looking at a couple of things here:

  1. They could legitimately see a starter that has the ability to touch 100 MPH, a slider that can be used as an out pitch and with some development a third or fourth offering that could allow him to stick in a rotation.
  2. (More excitingly) They could see an under slot option that can be used out of the bullpen as a weapon soon, making the decision to take Matt Shaw in the first round make even more sense as the team is looking to open the contention window sooner rather than later.

Let’s talk about option number two. This is a college pitcher that was taken (by Keith Law and MLB Pipeline’s projections) about 30 picks earlier than anticipated based on his value. This is a pitcher that dealt with an injury last season and was already looked at by some as a relief candidate. The Cubs lost a draft pick by signing Dansby Swanson and Jameson Taillon in the offseason so their bonus pool was already smaller than normal, so going under slot makes sense in order to be able to take advantage of the high school talent still available going into day two of the draft.

Even if he signs for the slot bonus of $1.10 Million, and even if he ends up pitching out of the pen, I like the pick. 

Fangraphs gives him a present 60 grade on the fastball and a 55 on the slider with projectability to turn it into a 60-grade pitch as well. Keith Law said, “ He showed an extremely fast arm and got on top of the ball well from a 3/4 slot, giving depth to the slider and devastating fade to the changeup when he finished it.” And MLB Pipeline believed in his ability to get the command and control in line due to his exceptional athleticism. 

If that’s not a solid 2nd round pick I’m not sure what is.

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