Scouting Success: Analyzing the Chicago Cubs’ 2023 Draft Picks

The Cubs had a total of 20 picks in the 2023 draft. They seem to have split their picks between some solid contact/on-base guys and some riskier guys with big potential. Matt Shaw is the standout who is a clear big leaguer in the future, but the rest of the class has plenty of questions.

Cubs 2023 Draft Picks

113Matt ShawMarylandSSR/R5’11185
2C68Jaxon WigginsArkansasPR/R6’6225
381Josh RiveraFloridaSSR/R6’2215
4113Will SandersSouth CarolinaPL/R6’6210
5149Michael CaricoDavidsonCL/R6’0190
6176Alfonsin RosarioP27 AcademyOFR/R6’6210
7206Yahil MelendezB You AcademySSL/R6’3165
8236Brett BatemanMinnesotaOFL/L5’10170
9266Jonathon LongLong Beach St1BR/R6’0210
10296Luis Martinez-GomezTemple CollegePR/R6’2178
11326Zyhir HopeColonial Forge HSOFL/L6’0193
12356Carter TriceNC State2BR/R6’0200
13386Sam ArmstrongOld DominionPR/R6’2245
14416Grayson MooreVanderbiltPS/R6’3215
15446Ty JohnsonBall StatePR/R6’6205
16476Daniel BrownCampbellPL/L6’3200
17506Ethan FlanaganUCLAPL/L6’3205
18536Brian KalmerGonzaga3BR/R6’2215
19566Nick DeanMarylandPR/R6’3180
20596Drew BowserStanford3BR/R6’4226

Let’s take a deeper dive into the Cubs’ first ten picks of the draft.

Matt Shaw is contact heavy middle-infielder who’s shown he can drive the ball to all fields. Shaw hit .341 with 24 HR in 62 games for Maryland this year. He drew 43 walks and had just 42 strikeouts! With plus speed and 18 stolen bases, he is a stolen base threat. Shaw fits the type of player the Cubs have been acquiring lately. Contact-first with defensive versatility.

Jaxon Wiggins joins the Cubs as a compensation pick for losing Willson Contreras to free agency. Wiggins is a question mark but also has some big upside. He looked like a future 1st-round pick a couple years ago, but then he struggled in his sophomore season at Arkansas and missed the 2023 season with Tommy John surgery. Prior to surgery his fastball flashed up to 99 mph, with a mid-80s slider, a mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curve. He needs to improve his control, but there is some big potential.

Josh Rivera had a breakout spring at Florida; hitting .348 with 19 home runs and 72 RBI. He is another high on-base, low-strikeout guy. Like Shaw, he also had more walks than strikeouts in 2023.

Josh Rivera Stats at Florida (2021-2023)

Will Sanders struggled in 2023 after taking some impressive steps in his first two years at South Carolina. His ERA jumped from 3.43 (2022) to 5.46 in 2023. Scouts referenced the a low whiff-rate with his fastball as a reason for the struggle. His fastball sits 92-94 mph. We’ll have to pay attention to that fastball as he develops.

Michael Carico led all of NCAA Division 1 in on-base percentage in 2022 at .559 and OPS at 1.401. He followed that up with a .514 OBP and 1.202 OPS in 2023. He hasn’t shown to be the best defender; his arm accuracy could improve. The bat should play, while the defense will be a work in progress.

Alfonsin Rosario has some big-time power potential. He’s got a solid frame and has already shown exit velos up to 109 mph. He is definitely raw, but at just 19-years-old he’s an exciting prospect.

Yahil Melendez will reportedly be signing for much over slot value here (rumored 400K at slot value of 254.5K). He an athletic infielder with good contact skills. He was committed to Rice, but it looks like the Cubs convinced him with the 400k offer.

Brett Bateman hit .355 in 2023 at Minnesota. Similarly to the other college hitters drafted, Bateman had more walks (31) than strikeouts (20) last season and added 17 stolen bases. Bateman is strictly a contact hitter; he had 0 home runs in his three seasons at Minnesota.

Jonathon Long is coming off back-to-back seasons hitting exactly .312 at Long Beach State. Long also had a jump in power with 15 homers and 52 RBI in 2023.

Luis Martinez-Gomez is a relatively unknown JUCO pitcher. He went 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 2023.

The rest of the draft also includes some intriguing picks. High schooler Zyhir Hope has solid power, elite speed from the left-side and a strong arm. He strikes out a lot, but there’s potential, especially in the 11th round. The Cubs will likely give him above slot money to get him to forgo his commitment to North Carolina. The Cubs loaded up on some college pitching in the final rounds (six of their last eight picks were pitchers).

Overall, the Cubs had a solid draft, but there’s definitely some questions. They drafted more college players early on, likely saving some signing bonus money to give to a few high school picks in later rounds 6, 7 and 11 (Alfonsin Rosario, Yahil Melendez and Zyhir Hope). I’m excited to watch these guys develop through the Cubs system over the next few years.

Published by Will McClaughry

Sports fan, data enthusiast and former division 3 college basketball player

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