It’s hard to believe, after seeing him pitch and hearing him talk, that Jordan Wicks is just 24 and two years removed from the MLB draft. He’s undefeated so far and could have at least one more victory — in the minors he rarely pitched more than five innings, but he’s had a couple of longer starts as a major-leaguer (One quality start) and doesn’t seem any the worse for wear.
The 6’3”, 220 lb. rookie was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft from Kansas State University (bbref) and has moved from South Bend to Chicago in less than two years.
He doesn’t seem overmatched at all. Clearly his high school and college coaches prepared him well, and his minor-league coaches and managers have also served him well. Wicks has six pitches that he doesn’t mind throwing at any time, with mid-nineties velocity on his heater and good break on his variety of offspeed offerings.
The lefthander hit Chicago with a flourish, allowing two hits and striking out nine in his debut against the Pirates, and he hasn’t looked back — he became the first Cubs pitcher since 1901 to start 3-0, and there’s no reason to think he won’t win many more games for the Chicago blue. He’s in the mix for the playoff rotation at present, with an ERA of 1.99, a WHIP of 1.059, 15 strikeouts and five walks in 22⅔ innings. He’ll start again Sunday in Arizona.
There’s no indication that he’s hit his ceiling. I saw a half-dozen or so of his minor-league starts, and this is who he is — very smooth, repeatable delivery, good mound presence, athletic defense, respectable velocity, very good command and control. He’s worked very well with minor-league batterymate Miguel Amaya and will likely continue to do so.
The Cubs’ vaunted minor-league development system is really starting to bear fruit, and if Wicks is representative of what the minors have coming, we are all in for some good baseball.
“People talk about the minors are for development and all you should worry about is the development part of it,” Wicks said. “I don’t believe in that. I believe we’re here because you want to win the game.” — James Fegan.
Indeed. Michael Cerami of Bleacher Nation asks if Wicks is one of the Cubs’ top three starters right now, and the answer is very likely to be yes. Yes, he is. Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, Wicks, and then Jameson Taillon is what the playoff rotation holds at present, and that’s pretty good stuff, I think. I have more confidence in Wicks than in Taillon right now.
That’s great stuff, and there are more coming. Caleb Kilian and Hayden Wesneski have already shown some of what they have, and they’re just getting a bit more seasoning. Cade Horton looks great, too, and might be up for 2024.
Wicks is just the tip of the spear.