Josh Rivera – Picture via Florida Athletics

When the Cubs took Florida shortstop Josh Rivera in the third round of the 2023 MLB draft, I began to nod my head in approval, and I said to myself, “Now that is a good pick!” Rivera came on strong this year at Florida and hit 19 home runs and drove in 72. However, his senior year was a culmination of years of work that paid big dividends.

Basic Info

Age – 22
Height – 6-foot-2
Weight – 215
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
From – Avon Park, Florida
Third round 2023 draft

Rivera arrived at Florida after an illustrious career at IMG Academy and was highly thought of heading into his freshman season. That season was actually cut short by the pandemic, but Rivera got in 16 games and hit .298 with two home runs and nine RBI. Add in an on base percentage of .385 and it was a pretty promising start to a college career. More was going to be expected of Rivera in his sophomore year.

His sophomore season, however, was not as illustrious or as promising as his freshman season. His average dipped to .253 and he hit just five home runs and drove in 26 in 54 games. After that season, he went to the Cape Cod League and played an additional 35 games for Chatham. He hit .248 with a .318 on base percentage and hit one home run and drove in seven. It was not a highly productive stint.

His junior year didn’t fare much better as he raised it to .254, but he did hit nine home runs and drove in 32 and his approach improved as he had an on base percentage of .351. However, the overall production was just not there. 

He went undrafted last summer and he came back for his senior year. He began to put things together. That approach that we began to see in his junior year paid off in his senior year.

Dan Kantrovitz added:

“But in the case of Josh, it was clear that some of the adjustments actually were substantial and meaningful and led to what ended up being one of the better seasons out there from a college shortstop.”

The Cubs had been scouting Rivera since his high school days. They were well aware of his inconsistencies, but that all changed as he hit .348 with 19 home runs and he also stole 18 bases while driving in 72.

He was a first team All-College World Series as well as first team All-SEC and second team All-American.

Here is what MLB Pipeline said of his talents before the draft:

This year, though, he’s been healthy and shown he can impact the ball a lot more effectively. He’s not necessarily a pure hitter, with a bit of an unbalanced setup at the plate, but he’s been barreling up the ball all spring, with an advanced approach that has led to very few strikeouts and a healthy walk rate. All of that has enabled him to tap into his raw power consistently.

When you watch Rivera move on the field, he is an extremely fluid athlete, and I am excited to see what he can do with pro instruction at the plate. I’m also interested to see just exactly where the Cubs are going to. He’s going to be very good, very quickly. I cannot wait to see him suited up in South Bend in the next year!

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