OU baseball: Chicago takes Sooner pitcher Cade Horton with No. 7 pick in MLB Draft

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Jul. 18—By the time the Oklahoma baseball season came to an end in the Men's College World Series, one thing was certain.

There weren't very many players better than Cade Horton. And that was on display Sunday in the first round of the MLB Draft.

The Chicago Cubs made sure the Sooner pitcher wasn't on the board for long, taking Horton in the first round with the No. 7 pick.

After missing his true freshman season in 2021 with an elbow injury, the Norman native became a key player for the Sooners on their run to the MCWS.

In five postseason starts, Horton went 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA while notching 49 strikeouts against six walks in 31 innings. He recorded 13 strikeouts, a MCWS final record, in Game 2 against Ole Miss in Omaha.

"I'm super excited for Cade," OU coach Skip Johnson said in a statement. "... [The Cubs are getting] a front-end starter. He's going to be a number one, number two or three starter in the big leagues. I think he's capable of doing that. His mental capacity, his delivery, his swing and miss is incredible.

"He pitches with his head and his heart, and his athletic ability. I think that's what sets him apart. His mindset in what he does. He goes out every day and proves that. He works, he's really humble. He doesn't have a lot of swagger, he just goes out and takes a workman's mentality to what he does."

Horton is the third first-round draft pick for the Sooners under Johnson, joining Cade Cavalli (No. 22 pick in 2020) and Kyler Murray (No. 9 in 2018). He's the highest Sooner draft pick since pitcher John Gray in 2013 (No. 3 overall.)

Jake Bennett goes No. 45

The redshirt sophomore pitcher was selected in the second round by the Washington Nationals.

Bennett posted a 10-4 record on the mound for the Sooners, recording a 3.69 ERA in 19 starts. He recorded 133 strikeouts and just 22 walks in 117 innings pitched.

"They're going to get a professional type of kid that understands what routines are, understands what 'pitchability' is, understands the work that it takes to put in," Johnson said of Bennett. "He's like the poster child of our program. Came in as a freshman — body changed, delivery changed, makeup changed, command — everything you can think of from a pitcher, he did well in it."

Peyton Graham selected by Detroit

Graham didn't have to wait too long after Bennett.

The redshirt sophomore was selected by the Tigers with the No. 52 pick, marking the first time the Sooners have had three players selected in the first two rounds of the MLB Draft.

Graham was a consistent hitter for the Sooners all season, leading the team with 20 home runs, 71 RBIs, 75 runs and 34 stolen bases while batting .333. He's the first player in OU history to record 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season.

Graham was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, D1Baseball and the NCBWA, a second-team All-American by the ABCA and a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

"He's got dynamic athleticism," Johnson said. "There's nothing that he can't do on a baseball field. He can run, he can throw, he can hit. He's got power, he's got instincts to play the game, instincts to run the bases. He's got every tool that you can imagine. For him, the ceiling is incredible."

Other notes

—Jimmy Crooks picked at No. 127: The Sooner catcher is headed to St. Louis, who took Crooks in the fourth round.

—Blake Robertson lands with Tampa Bay: The sophomore infielder is headed to the Rays after being taken in the seventh round with the No. 224 pick.

—Tanner Tredaway drafted by Pittsburgh: The redshirt senior outfielder was selected at No. 290 by the Pirates.

—Trevin Michael drafted by Detroit: Michael was taken with the 297th pick in the draft by the Tigers.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580