On Chicago's 185th birthday, the baseball fans who call the beautiful city home are sitting around waiting. The longing for baseball is agonizing, and with every passing day, there is a real threat that the 2022 MLB season will be drastically shorter. However, as Chicago Cubs fans think about the future and all the great prospects working out in Arizona, one pitcher is making more noise than others. After a sensational 2021 campaign, Caleb Kilian is turning heads this spring.
Bruce Levine reported on Friday that the pitcher is really turning heads, perhaps indicating a fast track to the MLB level. Per Levine's report, Kilian has been taking everything the Cubs are telling him and putting it to use. Pitching development coordinator Casey Jacobson had high praise for the former Giants prospect.
"He has a ton of feel for pitching and is a really, really smart kid. He knows now what he wants to do with the baseball, and that makes our job a hell of a lot easier. We have given him a lot of parameters, and he has taken them and done a lot of good work on his own.”
- Cubs pitching development coordinator Casey Jacobson
Jacobson had more to add, indicating that he's been working on his pitching grips and delivery. Coming off an already incredible season, it seems like Kilian is ahead of schedule.
The 2021 Campaign
In 2021, Kilian was impressive throughout the minors. Prior to joining the Cubs organization in the Kris Bryant trade, Kilian made a joke of High-A ball. Over the course of four starts, the righty was 3-0, possessed a 1.25 ERA, and had an electric 32-to-1 K/BB ratio over 21.2 innings.
To follow those gaudy numbers, Kilian had a strong stint in Double-A as well. In 11 starts with Giants' Double-A affiliate, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, he struck out 64 batters while allowing only eight walks. The righty had two complete games, a complete game shutout, and a 2.43 ERA in 63 innings. Talk about dominance.
However, Kilian's stint with Double-A Tennessee was not nearly as perfect. Although he was only dinged up in one of his four starts, the 24-year-old had a 4.02 ERA and 1-2 record. That said, a 16-to-4 K/BB ratio still meant he showed promise. Perhaps the trade threw him out of rhythm after his success in Richmond.
The Perfect Ending?
What is the best way a prospect can end their season? Is it Brennen Davis' electric stretch at Triple-A Iowa? What about Nelson Velazquez's campaign that put him on the Cubs' prospect radar? Forget those, what about a perfect six-inning start in the Arizona Fall League championship game instead?
Talk about icing on the cake. Caleb Kilian performed on the biggest stage of the Arizona Fall League. Could those six perfect innings combined with eight K's propel him toward becoming the next pitcher to join the big league rotation in 2022? Time will tell, but if the Cubs' staff in Arizona is insinuating that he has improved this offseason, the Cubs might have a future star on their hands.