Oklahoma State right-handed pitcher Ben Leeper signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.
Leeper, a closer, had 14 strikeouts in 7 1⁄3 innings this spring before the NCAA canceled the season due to health concerns over the coronavirus. Prior to the 2020 season, OSU pitching coach Rob Walton told The O’Colly that he was helping Leeper learn how to command his pitches with more control than just throwing speed.
“It’s exciting in a way,” Walton said, “because if he puts it together, (he is) a dominant guy.”
The Southlake, Texas native had 43 strikeouts with a team-high seven saves in 29 relief appearances to earn All-Big 12 honorable mention honors in 2019. He likely would’ve been selected earlier this week in the MLB Draft had the League not shortened its draft from 40 to five rounds.
The Cubs drafted left-handed pitchers Burl Carraway of Dallas Baptist, Luke Little of San Jacinto (Texas) College and right-hander Koen Moreno of Panther Creek High School in North Carolina. Chicago did invested heavily in the closer position in last year’s draft by using their first-round pick on right-hander Ryan Jensen of Fresno State.
Leeper is the first OSU player to enter the Cubs system since right-handed pitcher Thomas Hatch of Jenks was drafted in the third round in 2016. The Cubs traded Hatch to the Blue Jays for former Notre Dame hurler David Phelps in July 2019.