CHICAGO -- Matt Shaw got a glimpse at what the Cubs are trying to build during his trip to Cubs Convention last month. Not only were the North Siders’ core big leaguers on hand, but the ballclub had a long list of the farm system’s prospects in Chicago for the experience.
It was an opportunity for young players like Shaw -- the Cubs’ first-round pick in the 2023 Draft -- to start getting familiar with the ballpark, city, fanbase and the players and staff up and down the organizational ladder.
“We're starting to build a cool culture,” Shaw said at Cubs Con. “You have great prospects, you have great Major Leaguers and you kind of mesh them all together. Everyone here is having a good time.”
Shaw will have the chance to continue learning his way around the Major Leaguers this spring as one of the Cubs’ non-roster invitees to camp. Both Shaw and outfield prospect Owen Caissie were among the 19 players extended non-roster invitations on Friday to attend Spring Training with the big league club.
Acquired in the Yu Darvish trade with the Padres in December of ‘21, Caissie suited up for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic last spring and then had a standout season with Double-A Tennessee. Regarded as one of the best power prospects in baseball, the 21-year-old outfielder hit .289/.399/.519 with 22 homers, 31 doubles, 76 walks and 84 RBIs in 120 games in 2023.
Shaw, 22, was picked with the 13th overall selection in last summer’s Draft by the North Siders. After hitting .341 with a 1.142 OPS in 62 games for the University of Maryland, Shaw hit at a .357 clip with a 1.018 OPS in 38 games across three levels in his pro debut. The Cubs moved him up the ladder swiftly, pushing Shaw to Double-A by the end of the year.
“I love the competition. I like playing every day. I like guys throwing hard. I like wood bats,” Shaw said of his strong first year with the Cubs. “You're not always going to hit .370. It's going to happen where you go up and down. I was lucky enough to have a good couple months. And I'm sure there's going to be months where it's not very good. It’s just being consistent, enjoying it every day.”
Shaw played mostly second base and shortstop last season in Chicago’s system, but he noted at Cubs Convention that he spent a lot of time this offseason working on third base. With shortstop Dansby Swanson and second baseman Nico Hoerner inked to long-term deals, Shaw wants to show he is versatile to play other positions.
“It’s just about being all-around -- just being able to play any position,” Shaw said. “[Hoerner] said something about how valuable it is that he was able to do that. He was someone who could play outfield, play third, play short, play second -- really, play anywhere.
“You look at guys like that are in the organization, that have been really successful, and you’re like, ‘OK, that makes sense. That’s the type of guy they want.’ You want to be that guy.”
Here is the current breakdown of the Cubs’ non-roster invitees:
- Pitchers (11): RHPs Colten Brewer, Chris Clarke, Carl Edwards Jr., Sam McWilliams, Ethan Roberts, Cam Sanders and Riley Thompson; LHPs Edwin Escobar, Richard Lovelady, Thomas Pannone and Brad Wieck.
- Catchers (4): Jorge Alfaro, Pablo Aliendo, Joe Hudson and Bryce Windham.
- Infielders (3): David Bote, Shaw and Chase Strumpf.
- Outfielder (1): Caissie.