The Fresno State baseball season may be over, but the ‘Dogs are still making news as the Chicago Cubs selected pitcher Ryan Jensen in the first round of the amateur draft on June 3.
Jensen, a junior right-handed thrower, was the 27th overall pick in the draft. He was ranked as the 109th prospect by Baseball America and the 99th by MLB.com after finishing his season with a 12-1 record and a 2.88 ERA.
In an article by the Chicago Tribune, Cubs Executive Vice President of Player Development/Scouting Jason McLeod said they knew picking Jensen would come as a surprise to some.
“We knew going into that selection it was going to be a surprise, at least to the draft experts,” McLeod told the Chicago Tribune. “Our staff saw this guy going wire-to-wire this year.”
While the 6-foot, 180-pound Salinas, Calif., native had a successful season –– hitters were batting an average of just .288 against him –– the Cubs’ pick is somewhat unusual for the organization.
This is only the second time under McLeod and Cubs President Theo Epstein that the team has taken a pitcher with the top pick of the first round, the first was Brendon Little, also with the 27th pick.
Additionally, the 21-year-old Salinas High grad doesn’t seem to fit the Cubs’ typical draft pitcher preferences in terms of size, build and pitching mechanics.
“He hits the nail on the head of probably things we avoided in early years,” McLeod said in an article by the Chicago Sun-TImes.
The Bulldogs starter features a mid-90s fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 mph, a power sinker and a slider. He has 107 strikeouts in 100 innings this season, eight of which came during his 7 ⅔ inning start on May 31 against UC Santa Barbara in an NCAA regional at Stanford.
Jensen could continue his starting role or may be assigned a role as a late reliever or even a closer with his power fastball.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs believe they can sign Jensen following the conclusion of his junior season. The Cubs’ assigned bonus value for the 27th pick is $2.5701 million, but the Cubs may be able to sign him for less.
Jensen is not the first Fresno State player to be selected by the Cubs. The team also took pitcher Ricky Tyler in the seventh round of the 2017 draft.