Cubs sign first-rounder Horton, 7 others

July 23rd, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- The Cubs wasted no time coming to terms with the majority of their top picks in this year's MLB Draft, announcing on Saturday that they've signed eight of their first 10 picks, including No. 7 overall selection Cade Horton.

Horton, a right-hander who dazzled for Oklahoma at this year's College World Series after returning from Tommy John surgery, signed for $4.45 million -- under the designated $5.711 million value for the pick.

"My reaction -- I still, it's just, it's just crazy," Horton said via Zoom after being drafted. "It doesn't feel real. I'm just so blessed to be in this position and ready to get to work."

Signing Horton for less than slot value should further help a Cubs team that entered the Draft with the 10th-largest bonus pool in the Majors ($10,092,700). The nearly $1.3 million saved in that spot could help Chicago work out a deal with second-round pick Jackson Ferris, whose selection at 47th overall comes with a $1,660,400 million slot value.

Ferris and fourth-rounder Nazier Mule are the only players among the Cubs' top 10 picks who remain unsigned.

As for Horton, the Cubs secured a pitcher who skyrocketed up Draft boards during the collegiate postseason. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in February 2021, he struggled as he was eased back into action, first as an infielder before getting work as a reliever and finally rejoining the rotation.

Horton had a 7.94 ERA following a disastrous outing on May 21 -- but then everything changed. He developed a new pitch while playing catch with teammate Ben Abram, and Horton used it to reel off a five-start run that included 49 strikeouts and just six walks over 31 innings, all while compiling a 2.61 ERA.

Horton's season culminated in setting a College World Series record with 13 strikeouts in the title game against Ole Miss.

"I think what we started to see toward the end with his performance at Omaha in the College World Series was indicative of the Cade Horton that we're going to see in the future," said Cubs vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz. "I also don't think we've seen the best of him."

Along with Horton, the Cubs reached deals with infielder Christopher Paciolla (third round) and six right-handers: Brandon Birdsell (fifth), Will Frisch (sixth), Nick Hull (seventh), Mason McGwire (eighth), Connor Noland (ninth) and Brody McCollough (10th).