The Cubs, who had picked Cashner in the 29th round in 2007, tabbed Cashner in the first round of the Draft, 19th overall, on Thursday.
"I guess the second time's the charm," Cashner said. "I'm really excited to be a Cub."
The selection actually marked the fourth time Cashner, 21, has been drafted. He was picked in the 20th round by the Atlanta Braves out of high school, and in 2006, the Colorado Rockies tabbed him in the 18th round out of Angelina Junior College. Last year, the Cubs selected him in the 29th round, but he didn't sign and opted to transfer to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The Rockies also tried to sign Cashner after the 2007 Draft, and he turned them down.
"It's been a long time," Cashner said. "I've come a long way since high school. This year is the first year I've matured into my body."
Besides the Cubs, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners were interested in the right-handed pitcher. He had shown improvement both on the field and off. This past season, Cashner dedicated himself to his schoolwork, improved his grades and finished with a 3.5 GPA.
"He has worked hard, been coachable and developed in our program," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "I have no doubt that, if he can remain healthy, he can be an effective Major League pitcher."
Cashner excelled as a reliever at TCU, and has shown consistent 96-98 mph velocity. A 6-foot-6 right-hander, he has overmatched opponents.
He was switched to closer because TCU needed an arm.
"I thought it was a demotion at first," he said.
But in his first outing, he threw 95-96 mph, and he grew into the role. He was 9-4 with nine saves and a 2.32 ERA in 30 relief appearances at TCU, and limited opponents to a .122 batting average. He struck out 80 over 54 1/3 innings, averaging 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. The Cubs say Cashner could be either a starter or reliever.
Cubs' top five selections
|19.||RHP||Andrew Cashner||Texas Christian U|
|41.||SS||Ryan Flaherty||Vanderbilt U|
|65.||RHP||Aaron Shafer||Wichita St U|
|97.||RHP||Christopher Carpenter||Kent St U|
|131.||SS||Matthew Cerda||Oceanside HS (Calif.)|
|Complete Cubs Draft results >|
"I think we'll let this one take its own place," Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said. "His delivery is pretty darn sound, and it's probably one of the better ones in this Draft. He's comfortable in what he's been doing this year, but he has started in the past. We'll leave this one open.
"I think he can do either one. He's shown he's got good versatility to go either way. Let the pitcher show us what he's going to do."
What does Cashner want to do?
"I just want to do what I can to help the club," he said. "They said they'll let me feel my way through the system."
He doesn't have any Chicago ties, except a TCU teammate who is a big Cubs fan and was thrilled at the selection.
"I know Wrigley Field is awesome and they're in first place," Cashner said.
Cashner has a four-seam fastball with good ride, plus good control and command of his fastball, Wilken said. He also possesses a power curve.
"That's one of the reasons why we drafted him is because he has two 'put-away' pitches for us," Wilken said. "He's very athletic. He gets off the mound extremely well, he's flexible and he holds runners very well."
The Cubs also had a sandwich pick at No. 41 as compensation for Jason Kendall, who was a Type B free agent, and selected shortstop Ryan Flaherty, 19, out of Vanderbilt. A left-handed hitter, he batted .324 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs.
His father, Edward Flaherty, has won two national championships as head coach of Division III Southern Maine's team. The younger Flaherty was named Mr. Baseball in Maine in his senior season at Deering High School. At Vanderbilt, he took over the shortstop role full time in his sophomore season. He does hold the school record of a 35-game hitting streak. His coach, Tim Corbin, says Flaherty is the best shortstop in the country, according to the Vanderbilt Web site.
|"That's one of the reasons why we drafted him is because he has two 'put-away' pitches for us. He's very athletic."|
|-- Scouting director Tim Wilken on Andrew Cashner|
The Cubs last picked a pitcher in the first round of the Draft in 2005, when they selected lefty Mark Pawelek, who has had injury setbacks and will open at Class A Boise.
The Cubs chose right-handed pitchers in the second, third and fifth rounds. With the 65th pick in the second round, the Cubs tabbed Aaron Shafer, a junior pitcher at Wichita State. Shafer was 11-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 15 starts for the Shockers, striking out 106 over 107 2/3 innings. He had four complete games.
The Cubs took senior Christopher Carpenter out of Kent State in the third round, and right-hander Justin Bristow of East Carolina in the fifth round. Carpenter was 6-2 with a 3.81 ERA in 13 starts with 88 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings. Bristow, a native of Richmond, Va., was the 161st player taken and is the eighth highest pick in East Carolina history. He was 9-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 93 2/3 innings and struck out 84. He threw a pair of complete-game shutouts.
Bristow led the Pirates in ERA, strikeouts, starts, complete games, shutouts and was tied for the team lead in wins. He averaged 8.07 K's per nine innings, and had a pair of nine-strikeout games.
He also had been drafted before, getting selected out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft.
The Cubs chose high school shortstop Matthew Cerda of Oceanside, Calif., in the fourth round and infielder Josh Harrison, a junior at Cincinnati, in the sixth round. Harrison was the 2008 Big East co-player of the year and named a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. The Cincinnati native helped the Bearcats to a record 39-win season, batting .378 with 22 doubles. A second baseman, he hit five home runs, drove in 54 runs and stole 32 bases.
Cerda starred on the Oceanside Little League team that reached the Little League World Series semifinals in Williamsport, Pa., in 2001, only to lose to Danny Almonte's Bronx team. He's done well since then. In his senior year at Oceanside High School, Cerda batted .571 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 14 games, and has accepted a scholarship to play baseball at the University of San Diego.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.