Cubs pitching prospect Caleb Kilian could be on fast track to Wrigley Field

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MESA, Ariz. (670 The Score) -- The Cubs have been pleasantly surprised with the quick progress of 24-year-old right-hander Caleb Kilian, who was one of the prospects acquired when Chicago dealt star Kris Bryant to San Francisco just before the trade deadline last July.

"He has a ton of feel for pitching and is a really, really smart kid,” pitching development coordinator Casey Jacobson said. “He knows now what he wants to do with the baseball, and that makes our job a hell of a lot easier. We have given him a lot of parameters, and he has taken them and done a lot of good work on his own.”

Kilian is ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Cubs’ farm system by MLB Pipeline, which projects him to reach the big leagues in 2022. The biggest moment of his professional career came last fall, when he threw six perfect innings in the Arizona Fall League championship game to help his Mesa team win the title.

“It was a great experience for me,” Kilian said. “I got to face a lot of really good hitters and be a part of a really good team. It gave me the confidence to face really good hitters and do well.”

Kilian had a 2.42 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 19 starts across three levels of the minor leagues in 2021, when he reached the Double-A level. Moving forward, he’s working on his pitching grips.

“The Cubs got me in the lab right away to help me make changes on my delivery and grips,” Kilian said. "Right away, the manipulation of the way I hold the ball helped me out a bunch. Mostly, the changes have come from getting in their lab and getting advice and using my full arsenal. That has given me new confidence that has helped me be a better pitcher.”

The Cubs see a bright future ahead for Kilian and have been impressed by his work ethic.

“It’s about the day-to-day work for him and the amount of focus he has had in camp,” Jacobson said. “I told him, ‘Maybe we don't want to go out and throw 40 times today.’ That just shows when you set something out in front of him, he really has a desire to go get it. He is a hyper-competitive person. Early in fall ball, he took some new things out on the field and it didn't go well. By the end, you saw the trust and results. He will just not take failure for the answer. He found new ways to take out on the field the new things we helped show him. So it was just a matter of time and kudos to him for going through the process and coming out on the other side.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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