Cubs' focus on college bats on Day 2 of Draft

July 11th, 2023

CHICAGO -- After opening the Cubs’ 2023 Draft with the selection of Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw on Sunday night, vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz noted that the strength of this year’s class of prospects tilted toward collegiate position players.

“There's just so many college bats out there this year,” said Kantrovitz, forecasting the Cubs’ strategy the rest of the way. “I'd be surprised if it wasn't probably heavier, or at least leaning that way.”

That was indeed the case, as the Cubs used half of their first 10 picks on college bats, picking up two all-around shortstops, a catcher and first baseman who both hit for power, and a fleet-footed outfielder. Chicago also reeled in three college arms (including Arkansas’ Jaxon Wiggins on Day 1), plus a trio of prep stars.

Here is a breakdown of the Cubs’ selections on Day 2 of the 2023 MLB Draft, which will conclude with Rounds 11-20 on Tuesday (1 p.m. CT on

Round 3: Josh Rivera, SS, Florida
Notable skill: Ranked as the No. 87 Draft prospect by MLB Pipeline, Rivera is a capable shortstop who grew into some power in his senior year with the Gators. The 22-year-old infielder is viewed as versatile enough to be an option at multiple infield spots.

By the numbers: Rivera hit .348 with 19 homers, 10 doubles, 72 RBIs, 70 runs, 18 steals and a 1.064 OPS in 70 games this year. His slugging percentage (.617) was a notable jump over 2022 (.429) and '21 (.325).

Quotable: “Josh really focused on improving his decision-making, and just really his control of the strike zone. And sometimes when a player focuses on that, it doesn't always come to fruition. But in the case of Josh, it was clear that some of the adjustments actually were substantial and meaningful, and [they] led to what ended up being one of the better seasons out there from a college shortstop.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 4: Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina
Notable skill: The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Sanders checked in at No. 135 on MLB Pipeline’s list of Draft prospects. His fastball sits 92-94 mph (touching 96), and he has also featured a changeup, curveball and slider.

By the numbers: Sanders had a 4.08 ERA with 222 strikeouts against 68 walks in 205 1/3 innings over his past three seasons. A foot injury ended his 2023 campaign early. Sanders finished with a 5.46 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 62 2/3 frames.

Quotable: “What stood out to us about Will was the 6-foot-6 frame, but he generates a really extreme downhill angle with good extension. And he's also not just a power guy, even though he throws a mid-90s fastball. I mean, there's three other distinct secondary pitches.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 5: Michael Carico, C, Davidson
Notable skill: The 20-year-old Carico was ranked No. 110 by MLB Pipeline for this year’s Draft class. The lefty-swinging catcher (6-foot, 190 pounds) is known for his plus power and plate discipline.

By the numbers: Carico excelled as a 19-year-old sophomore in 2022, hitting .406 with 21 homers and a 1.401 OPS. This year, the catcher had a .350/.514/.688 slash line with seven homers in 21 games. He missed time due to a broken left wrist in March. In his three-year college career, Carico had more walks (77) than strikeouts (66).

Quotable: “He came in with a lot of momentum. He’s somebody that we were pretty excited about, as far as just having a power bat, and somebody that we thought could maintain the catching position, which is a rare combination. And then, unfortunately, he had that little setback with his wrist. ... We expect a full recovery. No long-term concerns there.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 6: Alfonsin Rosario, OF, P27 Baseball Academy (Lexington, S.C.)
Notable skill: Rosario (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) was described as a “showcase monster” by MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis during the Draft show. The outfielder has impressed evaluators with his tools, displaying elite exit velocities, plus speed and strong throws that hit triple digits.

By the numbers: The younger brother of Padres infield prospect Eguy Rosario (No. 8 for San Diego), Alfonsin Rosario had nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 36 games this season, per the Cubs.

Quotable: “He's going to have to refine his approach offensively and develop a little bit more polished bat-to-ball skills, but there's some pretty enormous raw power in that package that we're excited about. Just one of those really toolsy players -- whether that's his arm, whether it's his power, whether it's his speed. He's a guy, that if everything clicks, could end up being a pretty exciting player.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 7: Yahil Melendez, SS, B-You Academy (Caguas, Puerto Rico)
Notable skill: Melendez (a Rice commit) is listed as a 6-foot-3, 165-pound shortstop. He hits from the left side and impressed on the Perfect Game circuit with consistent hard contact, and he showed the potential to stick up the middle.

Quotable: "He ended up being somebody that we probably had five or six different scouts see him this spring, which is a lot when you're talking about a player from Puerto Rico. And we just felt really comfortable with his profile, somebody that should be able to stay in the middle of the diamond.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 8: Brett Bateman, OF, Minnesota
Notable skill: Callis called Bateman an “on-base percentage, high-energy guy” with great contact ability. The outfielder has the ability to play center and boasts good speed, but power is not part of his game.

By the numbers: During this past season, the lefty-hitting Bateman slashed .355/.451/.407 with 10 doubles, 17 steals, 29 runs, 31 walks and just 20 strikeouts in 223 plate appearances (50 games). Bateman also hit .500 (23-for-46) in a 13-game stint with Cotuit in the Cape Cod League.

Quotable: "We became really impressed with him as a kid as the season went on. He’s kind of a hard-nosed, gritty, gutty player ... that should be able to maintain a premium position.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 9: Jonathon Long, 1B, Long Beach State
Notable skill: On the Cubs’ pick of Long, MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo said, “You’re buying the bat and the power. It’s a lot of raw power.” Long, 21, is viewed as a first baseman, though left field could be a fallback.

By the numbers: In three years at Long Beach State, Long slashed .317/.408/.543 with 26 homers, 32 doubles and 105 RBIs in 132 games. In 2023, the right-handed power hitter had 15 homers with a .600 slugging percentage and a 1.004 OPS in 55 games.

Quotable: “Long Beach is a really difficult place to hit. Historically, it's always been like that. It's kind of a graveyard in terms of the ball just staying in the park. The air is really thick and dense. When you hit for power there, it typically means you have the makings of what could be some real power.” -- Kantrovitz

Round 10: Luis Martinez-Gomez, RHP, Temple College 
Notable skill: Callis called Martinez-Gomes an “intriguing arm” given his “lean and loose” build (6-foot-2, 178 pounds) and pitch package. The righty has a fastball (92-97 mph), slider and split-change, with a curve in the works.

By the numbers: In 62 2/3 innings this season, Martinez-Gomez has a 2.83 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 29 walks. He threw three complete games and held batters to a .199 average.

Quotable: “A lot of projection here. This is like a deep sleeper JUCO pick here late in the 10th round. I like it.” -- Callis, on