This series of Cubs prospect profiles is based on Fangraphs’ top 52 prospects list, minus the players who have already been profiled. Generally, these will be of Triple-A and Double-A players that might see the 40-man roster at some point. I’m not necessarily doing them in order and will skip around a bit.
Cade Michael Horton is another of the Cub’s young pitchers that is seen as joining the rotation sooner rather than later. As the Cubs drafted Horton in the first round (#7) out of the University of Oklahoma, this makes perfect sense.
Horton is seen as a polished product, not unlike the way Jordan Wicks was seen. As a major college prospect, he’s expected to see less minor-league time than a comparable player that was drafted out of high school. The 6’1”, 211 lb. righthander throws a fastball in the high 90s, has one of those gyro sliders, has a simple, repeatable delivery, and did well in his year of minor league ball (4-4, 2.65 ERA, 117 SO, 27 BB in 118⅓ innings). He was a standout quarterback in high school and a two-way player in college, but his future is on the mound and he and the Cubs are headed down that path in a hurry.
Here’s a little video:
2026 is what Fangraphs says is his target date, but I think that might be a little conservative. If Horton continues to strike out six batters a game when he gets to Triple-A, plans will change right quick.
There was some talk that the Cubs grabbed Horton as he was likely to sign for below-slot money and allow them to pick up Jackson Ferris as well. But it could just as easily have been Horton’s quality as a player. Cade is a bad man, is the saying. The Cubs did take Ferris in the second round, but he’s not on as fast a track as Horton.
I got a text from Ty Nichols, our Area Scout. He had seen [Horton] and he said “Hey DK, Cade is a bad man”. ...
“... we’d never put ourselves in a situation where its like “this guy or bust”. In our view, he was the best available option, where our scouting evaluation of him aligned with the financial valuation, while also setting us up to collect more talent with subsequent picks. What he’s capable of doing is commensurate with the best in the class.” — Dan Kantrovitz.
“Cade Horton entered the year with two swing and miss pitches – his slider and fastball – and he finished the season with after refining his new split-change and curveball. Horton has a case to be made that he is the top pitching prospect in baseball even.” — Greg Zumach.
“Baseball America ranks Horton as the number-two prospect in the Cubs system and the 17th-best prospect overall. Among pitchers, they only rank the Pirates’ Paul Skenes ahead of Horton.” — Josh Timmers.
He also won both of his starts in the Double-A playoffs. What’s not to like? He has one bout with TJS behind him and clearly has recovered in good shape.