The youth movement began for the Chicago Cubs this week as the team promoted infield/outfield prospect Christopher Morel and pitching prospect Brandon Hiughes to the Major League level.
Both Hughes and Morel thrived in their debuts as the reliever struck out all five batters that he faced in his appearance on Tuesday and Morel homered in his first plate appearance.
The promotions of Morel and Hughes, however limited their respective stays on the Major League level may be, have raised questions over the direction that the Cubs are headed in. After rebuilding the farm system through trades of the core players that were responsible for winning the World Series in 2016, Cubs’ president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer appears to be threading the needle between retooling the Major League roster while also prioritizing development within the the minor league system.
The rewards of emphasizing development is beginning to pay off for the Cubs at the Major League level, especially with their pitching prospects, as the Cubs have seen the likes of Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Scott Effross emerge at the Major League level as effective members of the team’s pitching staff.
The next stride to be taken will be the promotion of starting pitcher Caleb Kilian. Kilian was part of the return that the Cubs received from the San Francisco Giants last season in the Kris Bryant trade. Kilian, 24, has been electric with the Iowa Cubs this season. In 8 starts this season, Kilian has posted a 1.31 ERA to go along with 40 strikeouts against 13 walks.
Kilian has dominated at the Triple-A level with the I-Cubs this season and that was none more apparent than his start on Thursday when he had a season-high eight strikeouts.
Caleb Kilian is the next big pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs and is destined for the Major Leagues this season.
Kilian’s performance has drawn the attention of Hoyer, who spoke with reporters on Thursday in regards to when the starting pitcher may be promoted to the Major League level.
"“We’re really excited about him,” Hoyer said. “I can’t speak to timetables, but certainly we’re well aware of the success he’s having.”"
Hoyer indicated that Kilian likely would be making his Major League debut this season and in review of the Cubs’ upcoming schedule, the debut may be sooner as opposed to later. The Cubs have a pair of doubleheaders on May 30 and June 4 It certainly seems plausible that Kilian could receive the start in one of those four games for the Cubs.
As the season continues to progress, it certainly would be in the Cubs’ best interest to give starts to the likes of Kilian and Thompson in an effort to identify potential pieces of their 2023 starting rotation as opposed to veteran swingmen Alec Mills or Drew Smyly.