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Little Unit? Cubs draft 6-8 kid who can hurl 105

@MLBastian
June 12, 2020

CHICAGO -- It was one pitch in a bullpen session, but it was a made-for-social-media moment that dropped jaws around the baseball world. Now the Cubs will see if it was a fastball that can one day light up the Wrigley Field radar. On Thursday night, Chicago selected lefty Luke

CHICAGO -- It was one pitch in a bullpen session, but it was a made-for-social-media moment that dropped jaws around the baseball world. Now the Cubs will see if it was a fastball that can one day light up the Wrigley Field radar.

On Thursday night, Chicago selected lefty Luke Little in the fourth round (117th overall) of the MLB Draft. Back in May, it was Little who fired a pitch that registered at 105 mph on the radar gun tracking his pitches. It did not take long for the video to gather likes and retweets and shares. Baseball fans gushed. Major League evaluators noticed, too.

“I think the upside is obvious,” vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said on Thursday night. “It's been well documented he's been up to 105 recently, which is not something that you see every day.”

He's 19 years old ... and he has a 105-mph fastball

Hot gun or not, the pitch was an exclamation point that offered a glimpse of the power that is packed into Little's tall frame. He stands 6-foot-8, so of course his last name is Little, right? Last year, there were only five players in the Majors who stood at least that height. One is Cubs lefty Brad Wieck, who stood tallest at 6-foot-9.

Draft Tracker

According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report on the 19-year-old Little -- selected out of San Jacinto College in Texas -- the lefty tends to sit in the 93-96 mph range in his longer outings. But he can top 100 mph in shorter stints, and he boasted the "highest maximum velocity" of any lefty prospect in the 2020 Draft class.

Draft Central

In two seasons with San Jacinto, Little racked up 86 strikeouts against 39 walks in 44 1/3 innings. In 2019 the lefty turned in a 2.04 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. Little (a 2018 Perfect Game preseason All-American) is currently committed to University of South Carolina as a junior college transfer, but Kantrovitz expressed optimism about signing all of the Cubs’ picks.

And on Twitter, Little declared: “A dream in the making!”

On MLB Network's Draft broadcast, MLB.com's Jim Callis noted that Little's future is probably in the bullpen, noting that he will need to clean up his mechanics. Adding secondary weapons will also be important, though the Cubs have been establishing a recent track record for doing just that with such big bullpen arms as Wieck, Rowan Wick and others.

“He's going to be somebody that we're going to, I think, really just leverage the resources,” Kantrovitz said, “and instructors and technology in our player development operation. Whether that's in pitch design, whether that's in refining his mechanics or getting consistency in release point, he definitely has some work to do.”

Little also continued a power theme on Day 2 for the Cubs.

In the second round, Chicago landed Dallas Baptist lefty Burl Carraway, whose fastball is rated as one of the top heaters in the Draft. In the third round, the Cubs reeled in Michigan outfielder Jordan Nwogu, who is known for his elite exit velocity and impressive home runs. Now add in Little, who has an overpowering fastball, and Cubs fans can dream on.

“At the end of this, looking back on it,” Kantrovitz said, “I think we’re pretty excited about what we accomplished.”

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.