Cubs sign first-rounder Wicks

July 17th, 2021

PHOENIX -- attended the 2021 MLB Draft in Denver on Sunday, when he found out he would begin his professional baseball career with the Cubs. It was a special day for the Kansas State left-hander.

With the Draft taking place during All-Star Week, there was an added perk: potential face time with top big leaguers. At Tuesday’s All-Star Game, Wicks ran into Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel. And the Cubs’ pair of All-Stars gave the 21-year-old some advice:

“Just be ready to work.”

Now, Wicks can get started, as he signed with the Cubs on Friday for $3,132,300, the full slot value at the No. 21 overall pick, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis.

It didn’t take long for Wicks and the Cubs to come to terms. He wanted to get started as soon as possible.

“The idea of joining the Chicago Cubs organization was really a no-brainer for me,” Wicks said. “I’m a guy where I want to get out there and get on the field and start competing as soon as possible. And so I didn’t want to have any sort of lengthy negotiations, or anything like that. We came to an agreement really quickly. [I’m] super thankful for the value that the Cubs see in me and I’m ready to get to work.”

Wicks was the No. 16 prospect in the 2021 Draft class, per MLB Pipeline, making him the top-ranked left-handed pitcher. His 65-grade changeup is the best in the class, and he spent three seasons at Kansas State, during which he made 34 starts and tossed 203 innings.

With a strong arsenal and college experience, Wicks could potentially move quickly through Chicago’s system. He’ll first report to the Cubs’ complex in Mesa, Ariz., though, and vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said Wicks won’t be pushed too fast.

“We’re not going to rush him,” Kantrovitz said. “We’re going to take our time in the intake process, let him get his feet wet and then evaluate where he is from there.”

For Wicks, he’s ready to take the advice he received from Bryant and Kimbrel into the start of a new chapter.

“Every time you go to a new level, you get excited to compete against new guys, just the newness and the excitement of it,” Wicks said. “And so I’m excited for the new experiences, the learning along the way, and I’m excited to do it with such a world-class organization, an organization with so much history.”

More Draft picks sign with Cubs
The Cubs announced on Friday that they have signed nine of their top 10 Draft picks, including Wicks. The only player taken in the first 10 rounds who has yet to sign is second-rounder James Triantos, an infielder out of James Madison High School in Vienna, Va., who was taken with the No. 56 overall pick.

While Triantos remains unsigned, Chicago signed its third-round selection, left-hander Drew Gray out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for $900,000 (above the slot value of $627,900 for the No. 93 overall pick), per Callis. Triantos and Gray were the only high schoolers drafted by the Cubs in the first 10 rounds.

Fourth-round outfielder Christian Franklin, who was taken with the No. 123 overall pick out of Arkansas, agreed to sign for $425,000, per Callis. That was under the slot value of $464,500 for that selection. Franklin possesses plenty of tools and could end up being a steal for the Cubs from Day 2 of the Draft.

The others who signed with Chicago were: Tennessee shortstop Liam Spence (fifth round), Quincy left-hander Riley Martin (sixth), Coastal Carolina outfielder Parker Chavers (seventh), Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz (eighth), Oregon State left-hander Chase Watkins (ninth) and Duke outfielder Peter Matt (10th).

Of the 20 players selected by the Cubs in the 2021 Draft, 11 remain unsigned. The deadline to sign draftees is Aug. 1.