Cubs Prospect Profile: Matt Shaw

Cubs Prospect Profile: Matt Shaw

by - Senior Writer -

There haven't been too many cases where you drafted a player in the first round, and they were knocking on the door of AAA just three months into their professional career. Well, the Cubs are fortunate enough to have experienced that firsthand with Matt Shaw, and now the fastest-rising prospect in the Cubs system will be looking for an encore season in 2024.

The first-round pick (No. 13) by the Chicago Cubs this past summer, Shaw wasn't a highly recruited kid coming out of high school, but turned himself into one of the best hitters in the country. That made him the highest draft pick in Maryland Terrapins history, and the journey is just starting.

Not only was Shaw consistent in his three seasons at Maryland, but he won the Cape Cod League batting title (.360) and MVP award in the summer of 2022, then set Maryland's career home run record (53) and earned Big Ten Conference player of the year accolades this spring. That alone made the Cubs excited for him to fall to them, and they rewarded him with a signing bonus north of four million dollars.

Not knowing what to expect from Shaw after he was drafted, the 2B/3B put on a clinic all summer long that not only landed him in AA before the end of the season, but has him checking in at No. 6 on the Cubs top prospect list with a shot to land in the top three before long. Shaw began his professional career with the ACL Cubs, but after hitting .500 across three games, the Cubs sent him to South Bend to face better pitching.

Although only with the Cubs for 20 games, it was 20 of the most impressive games you have ever seen, as Shaw hit everything in sight and hit the ball extremely hard. Over those 20 games, Shaw posted an average of .393 with an OBP of .427. He added four homers and 18 RBIs as the power numbers from his junior season started to show up. That 20-game sample size was enough for the Cubs to give him an additional promotion as he moved on to AA Tennessee for the final 18 games of the season.

Shaw struggled much more with Tennessee, but still hit .292 with three homers and nine RBIs. That gave him a combined .357 average in his first professional season with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 33 games of action. Talk about a productive season and one for the ages, as Shaw has a lot to live up to next year as the pressure will begin to mount.

Shaw doesn't have a ton of plate discipline at this point in his career, but that is due to his aggressive approach at the plate. He is a contact first hitter, and despite the aggressiveness, he makes a ton of contact that often leads to hard contact and positive results. He produces high exit velocities and solid power that plays to all fields. In college, he thrived against all types of pitches, both left and right-handers. If you had to compare him to someone on the Cubs roster right now, Nico Hoerner comes to mind, although he does have much more power than Hoerner possesses.

Shaw isn't known for having elite speed, but he is an excellent baserunner and uses his speed and instincts to be one of the better baserunners in the game. Another thing that Shaw brings to the table is infield versatility, which makes it easier for him to find a place. After playing 2B his freshman season, Maryland moved him to SS for the final two years before the Cubs moved him back to 2B. They then moved him to third once he reached AA, and he posted a perfect fielding percentage during his 28 innings at the hot corner.

From an instincts side of things, Shaw would be perfect for SS or third base, but his lack of an arm may force him to move back to second, which becomes an issue if Hoerner is still in Chicago once his current extension ends. Either way, the Cubs have needs on this team, and Shaw fits a lot of those needs, so the organization will do what they need to do to have him a part of this team for a long time.

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