When it came time for the Chicago Cubs to make their first-round pick on Sunday night, they could have gone with one of the best hitters available.
Instead, the Cubs selected Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton with the No. 7 pick.
Baseball America ranked Horton the 23rd best player in the draft, while MLB.com ranked him 24th. Horton is the Cubs’ highest draft pick since they took Kyle Schwarber with the fourth pick in 2014. .
Horton said the Cubs were “definitely on the radar.”
“It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel real,” Horton said Sunday night in a video conference. “I’m so blessed to be in this position and ready to hit the ground running.”
Horton could be a bottom pick — No. 7 is valued at $5,708,000 — where the Cubs save money to use on other players.
chicago tribune sports
A daily sports newsletter delivered to your inbox for your morning commute.
Vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz called the Cubs’ bonus pool figure “exciting.”
“That’s something that gives us some ammunition to go out there and hopefully get some of the top players,” Kantrovitz said.
The Cubs have the 10th-highest bonus pool ($10,092,700) to be used in the top 10 rounds.
“Now we have to try to figure out how we’re going to optimize our entire draft,” Kantrovitz said last week. “That influences the calculation of each election. Who are we going to choose, how much are we going to pay them. And at the end of the day, we want to have the best draft we can based on, hopefully, having signed 20 players. But that has to be in the context of the general group.”
Horton, 20, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 before his freshman year at Oklahoma. As a redshirt freshman this year, he posted a 4.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 64 strikeouts and 15 walks in 53⅔ innings in 14 games (11 starts).
“Adversity makes us who we are, and I think the biggest thing I learned is how to be a good teammate,” Horton said of the surgery. “I’ve always been the guy who has never really sat on the bench. I’ve always been playing, and that injury forced me to sit on the bench, so I had to learn to keep the other guys going when things weren’t going so well.
The Sooners reached the final of this year’s College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Horton impressed in Game 2 against eventual champion Ole Miss, allowing two runs on four hits in 7⅓ innings with no walks and 13 strikeouts in a 4–2 loss.