When the time arrived for the Chicago Cubs to make their first-round pick Sunday night, they could have opted for one of the top available hitters.
The Cubs instead selected Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton with the No. 7 pick.
Baseball America ranked Horton the 23rd-best player in the draft, while MLB.com ranked him 24th. Horton is the Cubs’ highest draft pick since they took Kyle Schwarber with the fourth pick in 2014.
Horton could be an underslot pick — No. 7 is valued at $5,708,000 — in which the Cubs save money to use on other players.
Vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz called the Cubs’ bonus pool figure “exciting.”
“That’s something that gives us some ammunition to go out there and hopefully get some of the better players,” Kantrovitz said.
The Cubs have the 10th-highest bonus pool ($10,092,700) to be used on the top 10 rounds.
“Now we have to try to figure out how we’re going to optimize our entire draft,” Kantrovitz said last week. “That plays into the calculus of each pick. Who we’re going to pick, how much we’re going to pay them. And at the end of the day, we want to have the best draft we can based on, hopefully, having signed 20 players. But that has to be in the context of the overall pool.”
Horton, 20, had Tommy John surgery in 2021 before his freshman season at Oklahoma. As a redshirt freshman this year, he posted a 4.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 64 strikeouts and 15 walks in 53⅔ innings over 14 games (11 starts).