Just when we thought a five-game series between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals could not get more exciting, news came out that Cubs top pitching prospect Caleb Kilian will be joining the big league team.
Kilian, 25, started nine games at Triple-A Iowa this season, pitching to a 2.06 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.3 WHIP, 41 strikeouts, 15 walks and .236 average against in 39 1/3 innings. He was an eighth-round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2019 and was part of the package that came over to the Cubs in the Kris Bryant trade last season. Baseball America just included Kilian in their top-100 prospects (#100) and is ranked the fifth-overall prospect in the Cubs system by MLB.com behind Brennen Davis, Cristian Hernandez, Pete Crow-Armstrong and James Triantos.
Cubs are giving Caleb Kilian a shot after a dominant start at Iowa
There is a lot to like about Kilian. He throws a mid-90s fastball, cutter, changeup, spike-curveball and a “cutter-like slider” as pointed out by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. He can touch up to around 98 MPH on the four-seamer and his cutter has some great movement to it that can reach around 92 MPH per scouting reports. The increase in velocity and spike-curve is something Kilian has been working on and so far it has paid off for him pretty well.
Kilian is more than just a “finesse” guy who locates pitches in certain spots, this kid has legit stuff. The Cubs organization really needs to produce arms that can overpower hitters with velocity and movement. This is just how you win in today’s MLB.
Now he gets a chance to show off his stuff at the MLB level for the first time. There will be some things to keep in mind. Kilian has worked on stretching out in the minors, but he has not gone a full six innings yet. He has averaged between four and five innings per start this year. Do not expect him to go incredibly deep as he will likely be on a limit. Even if they get four solid innings out of him, that should be considered a big win for Kilian and the Cubs regardless of the game’s outcome.
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Even if we have to temper expectations a bit for his first start, which is pretty normal for a young arm first coming up from the minors, it is still exciting to see a potential future piece pitch at Wrigley Field.