Chicago Cubs Fifth Round Pick: North Carolina High School Righty Koen Moreno

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Chicago Cubs Fifth Round Pick: North Carolina High School Righty Koen Moreno

Chicago Cubs

After Ed Howard, Burl Carraway, Jordan Ngowu, and Luke Little, the Cubs concluded their abbreviated 2020 MLB Draft by selecting high school righty Koen Moreno out of North Carolina.

The Cubs didn’t take a traditional college starting pitcher in the draft this year. How’s that for a change of pace?

Moreno was unranked by MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, and Keith Law, but Baseball America? They see him as a sleeper:

Ranked all the way up at 128, here’s what BA had to say about Moreno:

Moreno is one of the more athletic pitchers in the prep class and he also participated in basketball and track at Panther Creek High in Cary, N.C. A 6-foot-2, 170-pound righthander committed to East Carolina, Moreno doesn’t have a ton of innings on his arm and scouts were impressed with the consistent steps forward he made last summer. At East Coast Pro, Moreno threw a fastball in the 87-93 mph range and ticked up to 94 at the Future Stars Series during the fall. He has exceptional feel to naturally spin a breaking ball, but the pitch needs continued refinement to become a plus offering. It shows solid depth and three-quarter shape in the 73-78 mph range, but it’s hittable when he leaves it up and only flashes sharp biting action. Moreno also showed feel for an 81-85 mph changeup that he throws with good arm speed and had swing-and-miss qualities with average or better potential in the future. Moreno is a projection arm in the true sense of the definition, with plenty of room remaining on a lean frame, athleticism that should allow him to make big strides in the future and an innate feel for spinning a baseball. Scouts didn’t see him pitch much at all this spring with a shortened 2020 season, but he was a candidate to take a step forward stuff-wise. It wouldn’t be surprising for a team to bet on his upside now in the 3-5 round range—if he makes it to East Carolina he could easily become a top-three round talent.

That reads like the kind of high school pitcher the Cubs have taken an occasional swing on in the 5 to 7 round range, or 11 to 15. I suspect they wouldn’t have grabbed Moreno here if they didn’t feel they could sign him, but I don’t see a ton of slot savings in the first four rounds, and slot here for the Cubs is just under $370,000. Of course, they can go over their total bonus pool by up to 5%, so that’s another $300,000 or so to play with, and maybe a good portion is already earmarked for Moreno.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.