Cubs top pitching prospect Caleb Kilian battling command issues

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

While still considered one of the organization’s top prospects, right-hander Caleb Kilian has some work to do before he becomes a full-time MLB contributor. He got his first taste of big league action back in June when he made three starts for the Cubs and, while he impressed in his first outing, the other two (which he made after getting sent down and called back up again) did not go as well. The main problem was walks. In total, he issued 12 free passes and 13 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings across those three starts.

The 25-year-old prospect has shown a lot of promise overall in the minors this season, being able to miss bats with his fastball and sinker in the mid-to-upper 90s, coupled with a cutter, offspeed offerings and breaking balls. He had pitched to a 2.06 ERA and 41 strikeouts in nine appearances in Iowa prior to his MLB debut. But it’s been very, very clear of late – something is causing some major control issues right now.

Cubs organization continues to hone in on Caleb Kilian’s command

Something seems out of whack with Kilian. Since returning to the minors for good after his third big league start, he sports a 8.36 ERA, has issues nine walks and allowed a .300/.400/.503 slash against in 14 innings pitched. In his latest start, he walked five batters in just three innings. The good news? He struck out 23 hitters in those 14 frames.

Regardless, even with the strikeouts, a pitcher cannot be walking that many batters. He has a nice delivery, but whatever yips he has now will need to get sorted out. This potentially includes minor mechanical tweaks and/or building some confidence back. He certainly seemed confident before his MLB debut.

Kilian has worked on perfecting his craft as a prospect in the Cubs and Giants systems over the past few years, successfully adding velocity to his pitches. There is every reason to believe he can work out these ongoing command issues. It is certainly worth noting he walked only 12 in 78 2/3 innings last year between the two organizations. His ability to command pitches is there, it just has to be fixed.

Next. Lack of quality starts has killed the Cubs this season. dark

Honestly, if getting right means Kilian not seeing MLB action again until 2023, so be it. Not to say he definitely won’t be back at Wrigley this summer, but time will tell. There really is no rush for him at the moment. It is crucial for the Cubs to do this right seeing as they want to do a much better job at developing their pitching prospects moving forward