Starting pitching depth was never a concern for the Chicago Cubs heading into 2024. But there was a pretty clear need to add an impact arm to the top of the rotation and Jed Hoyer did just that this week, reportedly landing Japanese left-hander and strikeout artist Shota Imanaga.
That addition will have a trickle-down effect on the organizational depth chart, allowing some Cubs pitching prospects to develop at their own speed this year. So who goes where? How long will they stay where they open the season? Who are the three Cubs starting pitchers that will begin the 2024 season in Triple-A, and which two will be part of the big league ball club?
Cubs RHP Caleb Kilian will open the 2024 season at Triple-A
One of the headliners in the 2021 Kris Bryant trade with the San Francisco Giants, Caleb Kilian has been all over the place performance-wise since coming to the Cubs. After closing out that season in the Arizona Fall League with a dominant showing, the wheels have kind of come off for the right-hander since.
We're not even going to get into his big league numbers because you don't evaluate someone on 16+ innings of work. But in 2022, he carried a WHIP north of 1.500 with Triple-A Iowa and struggled in a brief taste of MLB action. Last year, again with Iowa, he slightly improved that mark, but saw his strikeout numbers falter from earlier in his minor league career.
The shine has definitely wore off Kilian and it'll take not only a strong spring, but a bounceback campaign at Iowa before he gets a serious look as someone who can crack the big league roster under new Cubs manager Craig Counsell.