Horton (7 K's) unhittable in second pro start

Cubs' No. 4 prospect spins four no-hit frames for Single-A Myrtle Beach

April 20th, 2023

If you thought Cade Horton’s pro debut was electric, you need to see what he did for an encore.

The Cubs' No. 4 prospect and top pitching prospect (No. 93 overall) followed up his first career start with another dazzling effort, striking out seven across four no-hit innings in Single-A Myrtle Beach’s 2-1 loss to Augusta on Wednesday. After punching out five of the nine batters he faced his 2 1/3-inning debut on April 12, Horton was dominant again, holding the GreenJackets to three baserunners and not allowing a batted ball out of the infield while throwing 37 of his 58 pitches for strikes.

The 21-year-old righty whiffed four of his first five hitters and his final two to extinguish a threat of his own making in the fourth, keep the game scoreless and finish his second pro start in dramatic fashion.

"I wanted to get ahead and finish them off," Horton said. "I felt like my fastball had a lot of life tonight and it was working and so that really was what I stuck with. My mindset was really to just attack guys and get ahead with the fastball. I felt like in my debut, I fell behind in a lot of counts, and I felt like tonight I wanted to go in there and attack and put a lot of stuff in the zone, and I felt like I did a good job of that."

Four of his seven total strikeouts came on the heater, which tops out in the upper-90s with carry and armside run. The other three came on Horton's cutter/slider, which quickly emerged as a wipeout pitch even though Horton only began it throwing last year.

Through two pro starts, Horton has now racked up 12 strikeouts across 6 1/3 scoreless innings of two-hit ball. In other words: he's arrived.

"It's always good giving up no hits, but that's not really what I try to focus on," Horton said. "I am not very results-oriented. I'm more process-oriented. I like focusing on the controllables and not really the outcome, since it really isn't in my control. It's more about taking it pitch-by-pitch and doing what I can when I have the ball."

Still, those are the kinds of results the Cubs envisioned when they selected Horton seventh overall in the 2022 MLB Draft, fresh off a dominant performance in the College World Series for national runner-up Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City native began that year as the Sooners' third baseman, a two-way player who could still bat and play the field while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He then initially struggled when he returned to the mound post-surgery, before re-emerging as one of the nation's most coveted Draft-eligible arms during the postseason.

Horton committed to pitching full-time once the Cubs selected him in July, and sat out the rest of 2022 with an eye toward debuting with a flourish in '23.

Now that's exactly what's happened. He keeps pitching like this, and who knows where he'll be a year from now.

Maybe Chicago. 

"It has been a whirlwind, from a year ago to now," Horton said. "But I feel like God has a plan for me, and I trust in him and it allows me to go out there and do what I do."