The Chicago Cubs have signed their first undrafted player (as far as I know, anyway), pitcher Matt Iannazzo out of the University of Pittsburgh. The 22-year-old lefty set a bunch of career marks while starting at Pitt, and put up a 3.95 ERA over 100.1 innings this year. He struck out 76, while walking just 22. His 28 career wins are a record for the school, as are his innings pitched (342). He finished third in school history in strikeouts (239).
The Cubs contacted Iannazzo last week, quickly signed him, and then brought him to Arizona yesterday to start working with the Cubs’ rookie league team. Terms of his deal have not yet been disclosed, but, as a graduating college senior, you can imagine that he didn’t receive a huge bonus.
As a smaller guy (5’9″) who doesn’t throw particularly hard, you can understand why he wasn’t drafted. But Iannazzo is excited to be a part of the Cubs’ organization, and wants to play with a chip on his shoulder.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling. I don’t think I’ll understand or grasp what I’ve done until after I’m done playing,” Iannazzo told the Stamford Advocate yesterday. “It was a dream come true just to see the contract, let alone to sign my name on it …. I feel blessed in order to accomplish this. At the same time, I was disappointed I didn’t get drafted in the First-Year Player Draft and I have a chip on my shoulder from that.”
Good for you, Matt. I hope you prove a lot of folks wrong.
The signing, statistically-speaking, could prove to be largely irrelevant. But, in the new CBA era, you’re going to find that a slightly higher volume of interesting players go undrafted, thanks in part to the spending limitations for those kids who are drafted, and in part to the shortened Draft (down to 40 rounds from 50 – that’s another 300 players who automatically go into the “undrafted” pool).