Matt Shaw – Pic via Perfect Game

And there we have it, the Chicago Cubs land their first round pick selection, Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw. The former Cape Cod League MVP award winner brings a strong hitting background geared for future performance as well as a profile that fits the future of baseball.

North Side Bound draft analysts projected Colt Emerson and Brock Wilken to the Cubs today. Instead, Chicago selected a player in Shaw that combines attributes of both players. So who is Matt Shaw?

Matt Shaw the Hitter

Shaw showed off a prodigious bat hitting .341/.445/.697 for Maryland and that’s after his Cap Cod League MVP season with a .360/.432/.574 line. He also had a 1:1 BB to K ratio. To drive the point home more, Matt Shaw has never had a collegiate season with an OPS less than .952. Most seasons start with a “1.”. The production is clearly there.

Hitting projection is about more than production. Data metrics matter. Don’t worry, Shaw looks great there as well. Shaw’s contact rate (81%) and 90th% exit velocity (107 mph) both sit above average, even better on the exit velo. He chases the ball out of the zone at roughly college average (25%). Those three factors help paint a picture, but not the whole thing. Shaw drives the ball with excellent barrel rates.

Matt Shaw the Defender

This is where I had the most questions. I don’t believe he’s a shortstop, but it’s not for a lack of athleticism. I worry his throwing motion from an over-the-top makes for a tricky development step. The Cubs drafted him as a second baseman and either 2B or CF is where I could see Shaw end up. You can actually see the over the top motion even on this very strong play by Shaw.

Live Looks

I had the privilege of watching Matt Shaw live in Omaha during the B1G Tournament. Check the report out below:

The Maryland shortstop is one of the most accomplished college hitters in the draft class and one currently manning a premium position. It’s easy to see why he projects to be taken in the first round rather easily this summer and why mock drafts have connected Matt Shaw to the Cubs for sometime now. Let’s discuss what he does well.
Shaw is athletic. He has a powerful righthanded swing that generates plus exit velocity. He keeps his strikeouts to a manageable level and draws walks.
On the flip side, he’s not a shortstop. For many prospects, that’s okay; it’s an easy slide over to second or third base. I’ve seen a good deal of industry chatter about Shaw projecting that he makes that positional switch. He has the bat, easily, to play at either position and he is athletic. I believe a team may need to overhaul his throwing motion if he is going to successfully make the switch to another position on the dirt. Both second and third base require fielders to make throws from multiple angles and watching Shaw it is all from an over the top motion.
I’ve likened Shaw to Ian Happ from the right side and I’m sticking with that. Matt Shaw is a very good player. He absolutely deserves to go in the top half of the first round and he has the profile to be an above-average MLB regular. I just have a sense it’ll be as a left fielder. I could absolutely be wrong here. It’s just a projection. But could he be on the Cubs’ radar? Absolutely. It’s a safe profile from a player who hit for both contact (80%) and power (90th EV ~ 107mph) this season. He chases at roughly an average rate.

Pipeline (16th), Future Stars Series (11th), and Baseball America (13th) all had Shaw right around this range where the Cubs selected 13th overall. It begs the question, what is Shaw signing for? We don’t know yet, but it’s not impossible for there to be a slight underslot deal available here. With the talent on the board it’s possible that Chicago, under Scouting Director, Dan Kantrovitz could have worked out a deal to save a bit of cash for an overslot in the later rounds. Ultimately we’ll find out soon.

19 picks to go

Matt Shaw is just one piece of the Cubs draft puzzle. We’ll see the completed picture by the end of Tuesday. Lastly, worth a reminder that each and every one of the draft selections over the next three days is the culmination of hundreds of hours grinding by scouts. Congrats to Billy Swoope and Matt Sherman. Welcome to the Cubs, Matt Shaw!

Other Draft Pick Profiles

113SSMatt ShawMaryland
268SPJaxon WigginsArkansas
381SS Josh RiveraFlorida
4113SPWill SandersSouth Carolina
5149CMichael CaricoDavidson
6176OFAlfonsin RosarioP27
7206SSYahil MelendezB You Academy (PR)
8236OFBrett BatemanMinnesota
92661BJonathon LongLong Beach State
10296SPLuis Martinez-GomezTemple College
11326OFZyhir HopeColonial Forge HS
123562B/OFCarter TriceNC State
13386SPSam ArmstrongOld Dominion
14416RPGrayson MooreVanderbilt
15446SPTy JohnsonBall State
16476RPDaniel BrownCampbell
17506SPEthan FlanaganUCLA
185363BBrian KalmerGonzaga
19566SPNick DeanMaryland
205963BDrew BowserStanford