Back when, baseball cards used to show minor league stats for the younger players. I was a fan of players that mentioned Rockford, Illinois on their cards. At least, until they gave me reason to not be a fan. Back in the day, the Cubs desperately tried to turn Ken Rudolph (born in Rockford, though raised in California) into a useful catcher. It never really took. Ben Zobrist played Summer Ball in Rockford. So did today’s feature, Jordan Wicks. If there’s a person you dig because he is somewhat from your neck of the woods (regardless the field), note it below. On to Wicks, eventually.
Before I go there, though, here’s a hat-tip. Your responses have been really good recently regarding the 40-man roster stuff, recently. Even if I’m not in agreement on your selections of “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” regarding certain players, this has been nice. I much preferred discussing the relative merits of retaining Danis Correa versus Michael Rucker on the 40-man roster (or both, or neither) than arguing about things that aren’t going to happen. The way teams assess a 40-man roster is different than it was five years ago, or 15, and they will be different six years from now. The entire “Everything was better (or worse, both apply, depending on the topic) back in the 1970s or the 1990s” claptrap sends me running to the exits.
The teams that will excel in 2026 and beyond will be the ones that best adjust to a changing landscape, including the new CBA, whenever that’s ratified. Should teams find ways to better develop 40-pitch pitchers? How should that be done? Which players ought to be prioritized in the draft to accomplish that? Which prospects ought to be protected in the Rule 5 process to best get there? How much priority should be placed on retaining full-ish Draft choice lists? These answers will be answered in the next few years. Answering them most effectively will be very important. We don’t even vaguely have any idea of those answers yet.
At least, I don’t. Talking it out logically is a good way to learn. You have been very constructive recently on my perspective articles.
Jordan Wicks, left-handed pitcher
Born September 1, 1999. Conway, Arkansas
Cubs 1st Round pick in 2021, 21st overall, Kansas State University
I looked up Wicks’ K-State page, as my data on him was a bit thin. He went at least five innings in each of his 2021 starts. That might seems a no-brainer for a top pick, but it’s by no means a given. He did go 15/15 on going five innings, and went six innings or longer ten times. He shows up to get his work in.
Among the questions to be better/further answered include many on pitcher development. How many innings, and when? At which levels? Why those levels, and those numbers of innings? (No, I’m not seeking answers, but if you have guesses, fire away.) Wicks started four times for South Bend, totaling seven innings. His numbers weren’t that important, in my view. What was impressive was entirely ignoring Low-A. If Wicks walks into the Advanced-A rotation in 2022 to start, he’s absurdly close to MLB, already. Give him two months of starts in South Bend, and see if he’s ready for Double-A. In his first full pro season.
Wicks has the entire repertoire. His slider is either impressive or ordinary, depending on your source. His fastball is more 92-95 than anything else, as of now. However, players who are developing can sometimes find ways to throw harder. The difference-maker is the change-up. If the hitter has to deal with three pitches getting tossed fo strikes in a big league game, even the pitcher with an ERA over seven is tough.
Wicks should not be rushed. When he’s ready for the next level, move him up. Have him work on all his pitches at all the levels along the way, so he’s ready for what’s next as he does well in Iowa. As we try to assess how decisions will be made in the future, we can start with the way decisions have been made in te last decade. “When will he be ready for Wrigley?” “When he’s better than Triple-A.” No other answer works better.
Here’s his appearance on Max Bain’s podcast.
Fantastic purple tie.
Cubs first round draft pick LHP Jordan Wicks on what makes his changeup so effective: pic.twitter.com/fjTnyMLjs2— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) July 12, 2021
Lol, Jordan Wicks’ changeup is on point early in this one. pic.twitter.com/hw2xq10IMm— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) February 26, 2021
.@KStateBSB LHP Jordan Wicks is through two scoreless frames. FB 92-94 with late life and plenty of S/M in the zone. Terrific CH @ 82-84 w/ late bottom action and shown a couple two plane sliders at 85-86. #PGDraft pic.twitter.com/LkmNePrVVl— PG College Baseball (@PGCollegeBall) April 1, 2021