Thursday, June 13, 2024

Rising Cubs Star Snubbed in Latest Top-100 Prospects List

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Left-handed hitter Owen Caissie looks to be the lone gem remaining from the Yu Darvish trade with the San Diego Padres following the 2020 season. At the very least it appears as though the Chicago Cubs did hit on one rising star from that trade return. Caissie played in his age-20 season at Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies in 2023 and has pretty much been considered a top-50 prospect heading into 2024.

Well, one of the most prominent prospect evaluators, Keith Law, released his top-100 prospects list for The Athletic on Monday and Caissie was surprisingly missing from the expert’s rankings.

Cubs Prospects in Keith Law’s 2024 Top-100 List

While Caissie didn’t make the cut, Keith Law did rank five other Cubs in his top-100 list.

OF – Pete Crow-Armstrong: No. 18
IF – Matt Shaw: No. 26
OF – Kevin Alcántara: No. 28
RHP – Cade Horton: No. 49
IF – Michael Busch: No. 68

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Here is where Caissie has ranked in other offseason lists so far in 2024.

Owen Caissie Prospect Ranking
ESPN: No. 43
MLB Pipeline: No. 47
Baseball America: No. 47
Baseball Prospectus: No. 65

Caissie played in 120 games last year, slashed .289/.398/.519, with a 144 wRC+. The left-handed hitter crushed 22 home runs in 528 plate appearances. The one concerning number that does make you raise an eyebrow is Caissie’s 31.3 strikeout %. However, if you dig in deeper, you can see that Caissie improved on cutting down his strikeouts throughout the season.

Owen Caissie Month-by-Month K%
April – 43.2% (32 K in 74 PA)
May – 33.7% (33 K in 98 PA)
June – 31.7% (32 K in 101 PA)
July – 25.5% (25 K in 98 PA)
August – 28.6 K% (28 K in 98 PA)
September – 23.7% (14 K in 59 PA)

Caissie will likely always be a hitter who does strike out more than the average hitter, but you’ll take that because this dude has elite power.

The only other thing that can really ding Owen’s future value is if he is eventually moved out of the outfield. He’s been starting in right field and has a great arm. Not sure if he will stick there longterm, but obviously the calculous changes if he’s moved to first base on a more permanent basis.

One last note on Law’s rankings, he remains higher than most on Kevin Alcántara, who did struggle early in 2023, rebounded in the summer, got injured, and then finished the season strong. Not the breakout season a lot of Cubs fans thought Alcántara was going to have, but it was certainly good to see the center fielder end the year on a positive note.

Here’s what Law wrote about Alcántara.

He’s still got a fair amount of growth ahead of him, and his game overall remains inconsistent, but he has superstar-level tools and has days where he’s clearly the best player on the field. The ball flies off his bat already, with 20-25 homer power now and the potential for 35-40 when he fills out, while he’s also a plus runner who plays at least solid-average defense in center. After a rough start to last year (including a 21:1 strikeout to walk ratio in May), he hit .329/.404/.551 from June 1 onward around a stint on the injured list and a promotion to Double A for the final five games of his season. Despite his 6-6 frame and a swing that sometimes looks like it’s out of control, he’s kept his strikeout rate around 24 percent, an excellent sign for his long-term outlook given the sheer size of his strike zone. He’s not the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect because he offers so much risk, but he has 30/30 upside in the middle of the field and a lot of other ways he could develop that would still make him an above-average or better everyday player.

You can read all of Law’s top-100 list and his thoughts on those prospects here.

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