The Cubs Have Another Top 100 Prospect: Cade Horton
OK, so when you imagine the Chicago Cubs getting a “new” top 100 prospect, you’re probably picturing one of two things: a literal new arrival to the organization, or a recent re-ranking that contemplates a massive breakout by a prospect.
That’s not really what this is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real, and not cool!
Thanks to a very early graduation and the fact that the Cubs (apparently) had the number 101 prospect at MLB Pipeline, they now have number 100:
We knew Pipeline was particularly high on the Cubs’ top 2022 draft pick, tabbing him as the top pitching prospect in the draft, and really buying his brief, post-TJS-return, late-season college breakout. We’ve said before, if Horton is the guy he was showing in the College World Series, he’s an OBVIOUS top 100 prospect. It’s just that he hasn’t made his pro debut yet, so a lot remains to be actually seen.
Bonus on this ranking? MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis was just at Cubs camp a few weeks ago, getting eyes-on looks at Horton. So if things weren’t looking right or if he was hearing any hesitation about making Horton a top 100 type, I strongly suspect this ranking wouldn’t have happened.
Horton joins Pete Crow-Armstrong (27), Kevin Alcántara (86), and Brennen Davis (91) on the list.
Here’s what Pipeline has to say about Horton in the updated ranking:
One of the best two-way prospects and two-sport talents in the 2020 high school class, Horton went undrafted because he wanted to play baseball and football at Oklahoma — where he never got any playing time at quarterback and missed his first baseball season following Tommy John surgery in February 2021. He began last season as the Sooners’ starting third baseman, didn’t take the mound until late March and ended the regular season with a 7.94 ERA. Then he dominated in the postseason and led the Sooners to a second-place finish at the College World Series before the Cubs drafted him seventh overall and signed him for a below-slot $4.45 million.
Horton quickly regained the velocity but not the command on his fastball, which got hit hard until the playoffs, during which he operated at 94-96 mph and topped out at 98 with carry and armside run. His slider improved significantly after he toyed with adding a cutter before the Big 12 Conference tournament, becoming a wipeout two-plane breaker that parks in the mid-80s and reaches 90 mph. His upgraded slider is much more effective than his low-80s curveball, which he’s still trying to refine.
Horton is also working on his changeup, which features some fade but is too firm in the upper 80s and doesn’t land for strikes often enough. A quality athlete who looked a bit rusty but not overmatched at third base for Oklahoma, he had no trouble pounding the zone with his fastball and slider at the end of the college season. He doesn’t have a long track record of performance, though he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy and maintain his stuff over a full year of starts.
Featured photo by Rich Biesterfeld – follow him on Twitter, because he gets awesome shots!