For years, the Chicago Cubs became accustomed to selecting the top high school or college bat in the MLB Draft, with pitching addressed in free agency and/or trades. As a result, the Cubs have been scrambling over the last couple of seasons to re-stock their farm system with pitching prospects.
Now in a rebuilding mode, Chicago has seen plenty of personnel changes both on the Major League roster and within the front office.
But the problem persists – where is the top-line pitching in this organization?
If the season were to start today, the Cubs are probably looking at a rotation that includes:
2. Marcus Stroman
Not exactly a lot to be excited about, especially considering the Cubs’ rotation finished with the fourth-worst ERA (5.27) among starting pitchers in 2021.
Jed Hoyer, President of Baseball Operations, made it clear that the number one priority this offseason was to add power arms, as the prospect rankings offer little excitement for the future.
Left-hander Brailyn Marquez is the only pitching prospect within the organization currently ranked (No. 86) within MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects.
Needless to say, Hoyer and the Cubs scouting department would be wise to take a pitcher with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.
Prospects Live released its first mock draft of the new year earlier this month, with starting pitcher Dylan Lesko going off the board at No. 7.
Dylan Lesko would be the first high school pitcher the Chicago Cubs have selected in the first round since Paul Blackburn in 2012.
Lesko hails from Buford, Georgia and was recognized as the 2020-21 Gatorade Georgia Baseball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound right-hander recorded an unimaginable 11-0 record with a 0.35 ERA to go along with 112 strikeouts in just 60 innings of work.
The Vanderbilt commit also held opposing hitters to a .126 batting average and a 0.68 WHIP.
Here is what PrepBaseballReport had to say about the big righty:
"“Lesko has room to fill out his strong pitcher’s frame. He has a quick arm through a high-3/4 slot with the ball coming out easily. The fastball was 94-95 with late tailing action and some sink. His curveball had power and very good spin at 80-83, showing hard, sharp and late downer break with good bite. He also has very good feel for an 81-82 changeup that’s thrown with good arm speed and hard sink. Many that he threw were plus with the bottom dropping out. Lesko is athletic and has the ability to repeat his delivery, throwing strikes with all of his pitches.”"
Other scouting reports have noted that Lesko can hit 97 MPH on the fastball with ease, which is impressive for a junior in high school.
He participated in the annual Perfect Game All-American Class at Petco Park last summer, starting the game off the right note for Team East. Lesko threw a dominant first inning, needing just 12 pitches to retire the side while striking out two batters and holding Team West hitless.
Aside from an organization need, Lesko makes a lot of sense to the Cubs with the seventh overall pick. New Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins is a Vanderbilt graduate, and the Commodores have been a baseball factory, especially for MLB starting pitchers.
Barring injury, Lesko should only get better as he continues to develop and fine-tune his pitches.