Feature photo by Rich Biesterfeld

MLB Pipeline is spending this week and next rolling out their top ten positional rankings as a precursor to their always-exciting Top 100. While Todd has run through our own version of Cubs positional rankings here at NSB, it’s always fun to see the national publications giving some love to Cubs prospects.

The right-handed pitchers list came out on Monday and the Cubs didn’t feature anyone on the top ten, although by my count there are several dudes in the system now that could find themselves on the list a year from now…

But the big news came today as we saw Jordan Wicks all the way up to number 6 in all of baseball for left-handed pitchers. That’s one slot higher than he was featured on the 2022 version of this list and a strong showing last season clearly only helped his case.

In the write-up, which you should definitely read to learn more about Wicks’ competition, our Lester-like starter was ranked below Kyle Harrison (Giants) and Ricky Tiedemann (Blue Jays) who featured two of the best strikeout rates in professional baseball a year ago, Ken Waldichuk (A’s), DL Hall (Orioles), and Dax Fulton (Marlins). I’ll also point out that Wicks is ranked above Cardinals star prospect Matthew Liberatore.

Pipeline really likes Wicks’ changeup, given a 70-grade, and one that they pointed out got the best grades in the 2021 draft. They don’t specifically call out any of his other pitches, of which he has FIVE — a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, cutter, and curveball.

The Pipeline guys were also quick to call out Wicks’ control, pointing out that he “has a low-effort delivery and repeats it well, averaging 2.7 walks per nine innings while reaching Double-A in his first full season last year.”

It’s comforting to see Wicks climb up the lefty rankings this year as other people recognize the wonky bad luck that he ran into towards the beginning of the ‘22 campaign. In fact, he recently detailed that bad luck on Cubs On Deck Podcast, highlighting how successful he felt he was although the statistics and results didn’t exactly show it.

For the season, Wicks posted a 3.80 ERA and 1.25 WHIP across 94.2 innings in High-A and Double-A. His 30.1% strikeout rate and 7.0% walk rate were both among the best in the system for starting pitchers and ranked second in K%-BB% behind only Ben Brown.

The expectation is that the lefty will be a part of a truly stacked opening day rotation in Double-A Tennessee and an MLB debut in mid- to late-2023 is not out of the question.

For more Jordan Wicks content, be sure to check out Cubs On Deck’s full interview with him from last week!