Whenever a Cubs prospect has even a hot stretch at Triple-A Iowa, it seems like the fanbase immediately begins clamoring for said player to get that call-up to the bigs. Normally, I’m the cautious one of the bunch, preaching patience. But when it comes to Caleb Kilian, it’s worth asking the question: how much more does he have to prove?
On Friday, Kilian made his seventh start of the year for Iowa, cruising through four scoreless frames before running into trouble in the fifth. He loaded the bases without recording an out in the frame but, thanks to the Cubs bullpen, he wound up getting charged with just one earned run on the night.
So far this year, it’s been nothing but dominance from the right-hander. Seven starts, one earned run or fewer allowed in each of them, 1.57 ERA, 32 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings of work. Could he go longer in games? Maybe – but, for now, it’s all about how Kilian can impact the Cubs in 2023, when he could very easily wind up factoring into the rotation at the big league level.
Last summer, Jed Hoyer received near-unanimous praise from front office executives across the game for the returns he got in the trades that dismantled the core that brought a title to the North Side. Kilian, of course, came over in the Kris Bryant deal with the Giants, along with Alexander Canario.
Cubs prospect Caleb Kilian has dazzled early on at the Triple-A level
Kilian has been nothing short of lights-out since the start of last season. Since the 2021 got underway, the former eighth-round pick has made 26 starts, racking up 144 punchouts in just 129 innings of work. Now, he’s continued cruising at the highest levels of Minor League Baseball – and if it continues, we could end up seeing him make his big league debut at some point this summer.
The Cubs’ lack of young, controllable pitching arguably served as one of the biggest factors that derailed the team’s quest for a dynasty over the last decade. Now, Kilian headlines a group of pitching prospects on the rise – with the potential to anchor the ‘next great Cubs team’ we hear about so often.
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We’re only a month into the 2022 season and seven starts is an admittedly small sample size, but the stuff is there – and if he keeps mowing down opponents at will, there won’t be much left for Kilian to prove at Triple-A as the year continues.