Chicago Cubs Draft Lefty Jordan Wicks Out of Kansas State in the First Round

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Chicago Cubs Draft Lefty Jordan Wicks Out of Kansas State in the First Round

Chicago Cubs

Tonight, amid a first round that frequently didn’t follow the course pundits were thinking, the Chicago Cubs selected Kansas State lefty Jordan Wicks, who was not on my radar among the strongest Cubs rumors out there. Which is not to say the pick was a reach, as Wicks was pretty uniformly ranked in this range (or better), and was seen as one of the best college arms in the draft.

Wicks was a highly-decorated starter for Kansas State, dominating throughout his career so far (including in a couple summer leagues), and putting up some silly numbers:

(via baseball-reference)

Some of the various takes …

MLB Pipeline had Wicks ranked 16th in the draft, and said he was “clearly” the best lefty in the entire draft. Among their comments:

Wicks has the best changeup in the Draft, a low-80s weapon with tumble and depth that he sells with deceptive arm speed, earning plus-plus grades from some evaluators. He sets it up with a fastball that has added about 5 mph since high school, now sitting at 90-93 mph and hitting 95 with high spin rates that give it riding action. He has improved his low-80s slider to the point where it’s now a solid offering, and he also can morph it into a harder cutter and mix in an upper-70s curveball.

Wicks works with little effort, easily repeating his delivery and pounding the strike zone while working both sides of the plate. In addition to his stuff and command, he earns praise for his competitiveness and inventiveness on the mound. One scout likened him to Reid Detmers, the No. 10 overall choice in 2020 by the Angels, with a changeup rather than a curveball as his dominant pitch.

Keith Law had Wicks at 13: “Wicks is the ‘safe’ college lefty, with a plus-plus changeup and excellent feel to pitch, working to both sides of the plate with the fastball, although he’s been hit a little bit more than you’d like this spring and the breaking ball is a clear third pitch for him.”

For Baseball America, Wicks was also number 13, and there’s more heavy love for the changeup. I’m increasingly thinking that, in a sticky-stuff-free world, going with the best college lefty who has an elite changeup is probably pretty smart.

At FanGraphs, Wicks was number 17: “Wicks has arguably the best changeup in the 2021 draft and his fastball, while not all that hard, has traits that enable it to play at the top of the strike zone, though Wicks hasn’t yet worked up there with it. His breaking stuff is mediocre but workable so long as those pitches are located well, which Wicks’ general feel for strike-throwing suggests they will be. After the Vanderbilt arms, Wicks is the surest healthy bet to stick in a rotation and move through the minors quickly. If his breaking ball improves, he’ll be a mid-rotation starter.”

We’ll have so much more soon on the Cubs’ newest lefty pitching prospect. (UPDATE: Here’s Bryan’s deep dive.)

 

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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.