10:13AM: The Cubs are set to call up left-hander Jordan Wicks, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers (X links). There had been plenty of speculation that Wicks was on the verge of a call-up, and now the southpaw (who turns 24 on September 1) will get an early birthday present Sunday when he makes his MLB debut in a start against the Pirates.
Wicks was the 21st overall pick of the 2021 draft, drawing Chicago’s attention after a standout collegiate career at Kansas State. That success has translated into a pretty quick rise through the farm system, as Wicks has now reached the majors a little over two years since his draft date. Making his Triple-A debut just this past June, Wicks has a 3.82 ERA, 22.2% strikeout rate, and 9.8% walk rate over the limited sample of 33 innings for Triple-A Iowa.
This was enough to earn Wicks at least one start at the big league level, as it is possible he might be quickly ticketed back to Triple-A after helping the Cubs get through an extended stretch of games. Marcus Stroman’s injury seemed to herald Drew Smyly’s return to the rotation, but Chicago has instead decided to keep Smyly in the bullpen, creating the need for a new starter on Sunday. Wicks has pitched beyond the fifth inning only once in his 20 minor league games this season, so Sunday’s game might be more of a piggyback situation, with Smyly or other relievers stepping in before Pirates batters can face Wicks for a second time.
Still, even a cup of coffee in the majors is a huge moment in Wicks’ career, and it can serve as an audition for a longer look once rosters expand in September, or going into next season. Stroman can opt out of his contract and the Cubs might not exercise Kyle Hendricks’ club option, leaving some possible rotation spots open heading into Spring Training. Wicks has an opportunity to turn some heads and get himself into that conversation, with his minor league resume already standing out.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel ranked Wicks 51st on his preseason top-100 listing, though Wicks has yet to crack the top 100 for either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline in their preseason or midseason rankings. BA places Wicks as the eighth-best prospect in the Cubs’ farm system and Pipeline has him 10th, and all of the pundits feel he can become a big league-caliber starter in the middle or back of a rotation. Wicks’ outstanding changeup is the highlight of his five-pitch arsenal, though his slider is the only other offering that shows above-average potential. For more on Wicks’ development, James Fegan of the Chicago Sun-Times published a piece today with quotes from Wicks and Triple-A pitching coach Ron Villone about the youngster’s approach on the mound.