This is one of those cool stories that everyone can enjoy. I’m glad the Chicago Cubs were the team to do it.
Daniel Lewis, 24, wasn’t selected in this year’s draft. The latest CBA shrunk the draft to 40 rounds, leaving some 300 players that would have previously been drafted as free agents. That is to say, not being selected is not, alone, a deathknell to a player’s career, especially when there are extenuating circumstances that led to the player going undrafted.
For Lewis, there’s a pretty good reason he wasn’t drafted: he was just coming back to baseball after four years of military service.
Baseball America reports that the Cubs have signed the right-handed pitcher after watching him throw in the Cape Cod League this Summer, which followed Lewis’s return to baseball at Pensacola State College in Florida this past season. While Lewis’s results this year were mixed – the states at his Juco and in the Cape Cod League weren’t great – we’re talking about a guy who literally had not pitched in the four years since high school. What you’d be looking for is raw ability, and BA says Lewis was hitting 96mph on the gun when the Cubs observed, and then signed, him. In an non-drafted free agent signing? Yeah, you’ll take that.
While the odds that a guy like Lewis will pan out into a useful piece are probably pretty long, it’s great to see yet another example of the Cubs covering every possible angle for an edge in the scouting and player development world. If ever there was going to be a 24-year-old non-drafted free agent with almost no pitching experience who eventually emerged as a quality player, this is the way it would happen. And I’m glad the Cubs are hustling to make sure that, if it happens, it’ll be on their watch.
Whatever comes of Lewis’s baseball career, it’s a very cool story. You can read more about Lewis’s journey here in an article about his Cape Cod experience.
Good luck to Lewis, and it’ll be fun to follow his path. Hopefully the Cubs can harness the raw ability and polish it up over the coming years.