Cubs select lefty Little, righty Lange in first round of MLB draft
NEW YORK — For the first time in six drafts with the Cubs, Theo Epstein’s front office selected a pitcher with its top first-round pick, then added another one three picks later in the MLB draft Monday.
Historically biased toward college hitters near the top of the draft, the Cubs selected left-hander Brendon Little from State College of Florida with the 27th pick and LSU right-hander Alex Lange with the 30th, the last pick of the first round.
The Cubs received the Cardinals’ pick at No. 27 as compensation for free agent Dexter Fowler.
In 15 drafts with the Red Sox and Cubs, Little is the third-highest-drafted pitcher by an Epstein front office, the highest since the Red Sox took UConn’s Matt Barnes 19th in 2011. The only other pitcher his front office drafted higher — Craig Hansen from St. John’s at No. 26 in 2005 — was the team’s second pick in that draft (behind Jacoby Ellsbury).
“Obviously, you know what the history and track record is,” said scouting and player-development boss Jason McLeod. “That’s also just a byproduct of the talent pool that’s out there this year.”
He said the Cubs focused on “four or five” players they thought would be available in their area of the first round, three of whom were pitchers.
“We know what our organizational needs are. We know that we need to develop pitching,” he said. “But we weren’t going to force it. These two certainly aren’t forced. They’re first-round-caliber pitchers.”
Little, 20, stands 6-2 and is a power pitcher who showed flashes in high school and originally signed with North Carolina. He pitched little there and wound up transferring after a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League. His velocity reached the mid-90s with a good breaking ball.
Lange, 21, has a higher-profile college career. He has been part of the LSU rotation since he was a freshman. The Tigers’ ace, Lange led LSU into the College World -Series, which begins next week, as a junior.
“Both are great makeup guys and top-notch competitors with swing-and-miss stuff,” McLeod said.
In the second round, the Cubs took right-hander Cory Abbott, a junior from Loyola Marymount, at No. 67.