Chicago Cubs Second Round Jackson Ferris is a strikeout machine with an advantage – Orange County Register

IMG Academy pitching coach Steve Frey always tells people that Jackson Ferris has that “it factor.”

The Cubs selected the 18-year-old lefty in Sunday’s second round, a formidable high school pitcher who can score strikes. ranked Ferris No. 19 in the draft and Baseball America had him No. 34. The Cubs, who picked him No. 47, added a high upside arm.

Ferris hit 189 batters in 105 innings in two seasons as a starter at IMG Academy. He finished his senior year with a 1.33 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.87 in 10 games.

“When he’s outside the lines, he’s one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet,” Frey told the Tribune. “And inside the lines he has this fire-in-the-belly mentality where he wants the ball. He wants to win.”

Ferris always told Frey he was available between starts if it meant helping his team win.

“He’s a really good pitcher, but he’s got that extra something that some guys don’t have,” Frey said. “And trainers will love that.”

The IMG Academy national schedule pits them against top-flight opponents. Ferris’ ability to use all four courts – fastball, curveball, changeup and slider – in game situations stood out for the Cubs. Ferris’ fastball can range from 93 to 95 mph with a curveball and changeup that are considered above average. Many elite high school pitchers are so dominant that they only need two pitches to knock out opposing hitters. While Ferris sometimes relied on a two-pitch mix towards the end of a lineup, that wouldn’t fly against a team’s top hitters.

Ten Cubs scouts evaluated Ferris throughout the spring, led by area scout Tom Clark.

“This wasn’t someone who just pitched in with two pitches for two innings,” said Dan Kantrovitz, the Cubs’ vice president of scouting. “I mean, he throws complete games and shows four pitches and goes through the order several times and shows an ability to make adjustments in the game, so it went beyond a typical high school two-pitch pitcher.”

Frey knows what it takes to make it into the big leagues. He spent eight years in the five-team majors and finished his career with a 3.76 ERA in 314 games as a reliever. Frey sees something special in Ferris. The young pitcher played around with various off-speed holds, and once he found that feel, “there was no turning back.” Working on the mental side of pitching was a common theme during his bullpens, and it carried over to the games.

Frey described Ferris as a joy to work with.

“He would just follow,” said Frey. “He’s not a guy who overreacts. He sees the sign, commits to the field and follows it.

“I mean, of course today we’re talking about the talent that he has, but in the two years he’s just turned into a complete pitcher.”

Ferris needs to strengthen his lanky 6ft 4 frame. To take the next step in his development, Frey said it’s important to keep an open mind about what the academy is preaching to all players before moving on. That could mean trying new holds or delivery tweaks while the Cubs leverage their technology and pitching infrastructure, including their pitch lab.

“They want to continue to be successful at every level and it’s small steps,” Frey said. “And he will have to get used to that.”

() Chicago Cubs Second Round Jackson Ferris is a strikeout machine with an advantage – Orange County Register

Caroline Bleakley

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