The 2020 MLB draft was different for all teams due to the cut back from 40 to five rounds. It was full of more changes for the Chicago Cubs organization. The Cubs welcomed a new scouting Vice President, Dan Kantrovitz, not long after the 2019 season ended. Kantrovitz had to navigate his new position during these unprecedented times. With spring ball abruptly being cut short, Kantrovitz had to turn to video and Zoom calls, along with videos to evaluate prospects that could potentially become part of the Cubs organizations.
First Round: No. 16: Ed Howard, SS
Ed Howard, a shortstop from Mount Carmel High School, was drafted by the Cubs on Wednesday night. He had committed to play at Oklahoma State in the fall. A Chicago native himself, this 6’ 2’’, 185-pound player caught the attention of many. Perhaps the best shortstop in the draft, Howard posted a .419 batting average his junior year of high school. Throughout his 26 games played, he had three home runs and 36 hits.
Howard has the skills to impact a game with either just the swing of his bat or his fielding skills. His athletic build has made him noteworthy in this amateur draft because of his defensive and offensive talent. Despite his senior season being cut short, it was still obvious that Howard was a solid shortstop that housed speed, arm strength, and infielder reflexes. At the plate, Howard does not shy away from power (95 exit velocity) and is reliable for getting on base .478. Howard is only at the beginning of his career, and the Cubs have a potential star on their hands.
Second Round: No. 51: Burl Carraway, LHP
Dallas Baptist left-handed pitcher, Burl Carraway has spent two and a half seasons at the collegiate level playing baseball. His outstanding performance, breaking through notably Sophomore year, had him on the Cubs radar for quite some time. Carraway is not the biggest man on the field, 6 ft, and 173 pounds, but his size has not held him back at all.
Carraway only made two appearances in his Freshman year. Whatever he missed out on his Freshman year, he surely made up for his Sophomore. Making 28 appearances, Carraway went 4-2. Posting a 2.81 ERA over 41.2 innings pitched, it is easy to see why he was one of the top college relievers in the 2020 draft. Throughout his 8 appearances this spring (2020), he had an ERA of 0.96 to his name. Over his 2.5 seasons, Carraway has only allowed two homers. Walking 31 players may rise a little concern, but he definitely still knows the strike zone because he has struck out 89.
Third Round: No. 88: Jordan Nwogu, OF
The Cubs saw a lot of potential in Jordan Nwogu, who came in at 108 on the Top Draft Prospect list. Nwogu was a star outfielder for the Michigan Wolverines, however, it is debatable where he will end up at within the Cubs due to not having a strong throwing arm. Based solely on his lack of a strong throwing arm, he will most likely end up in left field.
Nwogu was a consistent contributor for the Wolverines and was the lead man in the last two seasons. He has always been a key component for the Wolverines, but more so in 2019 when he helped lead his team to the College World Series finals. Over his time at the collegiate level, he has played 125 games with a slash line of .334/430/545. He is a strong hitter and started the 2020 season with an eight-game hitting streak. His swing is a little awkward and could use some tuning up, but it hasn’t hurt him badly yet. Nwogu had 147 hits, 20 homers, and 97 runs throughout his time at Michigan; this is all from 440 at-bats. Chicago can see his potential and past the fine-tuning, “He’s the type of hitter that might be able to have power as well as play discipline, and that’s a pretty rare combination,” Krantrovitz said.
Fourth Round: No. 117: Luke Little, LHP
Despite his last name, Luke Little is far from small; coming in at 6’ 8’’ and 225 pounds, this Texan lives up to the saying “everything is bigger in Texas”. Little is the second left-handed pitcher that the Cubs picked up in the 2020 draft. Many people noticed Little after a video of him throwing a 105 mph pitch gained a lot of traction. The Cubs scouting staff was very impressed with the speed and thought that outweighed the other issues he posed when he pitched.
Little has spent his time both in the bullpen and starting games at San Jacinto College in Texas. Between his 17 appearances, he struck out 69 in only 35.1 innings pitched. Little has shown his range to be between 93-96 mph and he can get up to 100 mph in his shorter outings; therefore, the bullpen is probably in his future. The Cubs looked past his lack of control and the fact that he walked, on average, one batter per inning last season. Little gained more control from his Freshman to Sophomore year, and the Cubs are confident they have the resources to help clean up his mechanics.
Fifth round: No. 147: Koen Moreno, RHP
Straight out of Panther Creek High School (NC), Koen Moreno was the fifth-round pick for the Chicago Cubs. He is committed to Easy Carolina University. This right-handed pitcher comes in at 6’ 2’’ and 170 pounds.
Moreno was an entertaining player during his junior year, 2019 season despite his team going 7-16. He was definitely a highlight of that season, going 5-3 with a 1.62 ERA. Over his 47.2 innings pitched, he struck out 80 and walked 17. Moreno has a fastball within the range of 87-93 mph, topping out at 94. He has also showcased his changeup and breaking ball with natural spin. Both pitches need some tweaking, and the Cubs see that as only a minor hiccup next to everything else he has to offer.
Overview and outlook
Going into the draft, the Cubs knew they needed to add to their bullpen. The Cubs saw first-hand last season how important a powerful bullpen was to help secure wins. They did just as they needed by selecting three pitchers, two left-handed and one right-handed.
Left-handed pitcher, Burl Carraway is thought to be the one draft pick who has a chance to move up quickly. Carraway’s sharp pitching arsenal has the scouting staff thinking he will climb rather fast throughout the system.
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