6/6 Cubs take LHP Steele in 5th round
Justin Steele may not have the size of some pitchers, but the Cubs like what they saw of the left-hander, and selected him in the fifth round on Friday of the First-Year Player Draft. Steele is the third pitcher the Cubs have taken in the Draft, and the first Mississippi high school pitcher selected in the first five rounds since the Braves picked Matt Butler in 1999.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis said Steele’s velocity was better this spring and his changeup had some good movement.
“Even though he’s smaller, he’s fairly athletic,” Callis said. “I think he has a chance to start.”
The Lucedale, Miss., native was able to pitch after he fractured his left wrist sliding into home plate during a summer league game last September. Steele needed surgery to insert a screw in the scaphoid bone.
Steele’s father, Ben, played football at Alabama in the mid 1980s and his older brother, Jordan, pitched at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
“Justin is extremely competitive, and he has a God-given ability to throw the fastball,” George County coach Brandon Davis said last year in an interview with GulfLive.com. “His mentality when he’s on the mound, he wants to get everybody out. But he’s got the mentality to handle it when he doesn’t get everybody out. That’s what’s gotten him noticed by Southern Miss and [professional scouts] who are starting to notice him as well.”
Steele was 5-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 92 strikeouts over 43 innings pitched his senior season. He earned Class 5A Player of the Year honors, and threw no-hitters against Pascagoula and East Central.
– Carrie Muskat