Owen Caissie Will Hit His Way Into the Cubs Lineup This season

Burlington, Ontario's Owen Caissie is turning heads this spring with the Cubs and could be the next Canuck to debut in the big leagues.

MESA, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 29: Owen Caissie of the Chicago Cubs bats during a Spring Training game at Sloan Park on February 29, 2024 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images)

Heading into the 2024 season, the Chicago Cubs boast one of the strongest farm systems across the league, with five players making Just Baseball’s Top 100 prospects most recent update. Slotted at No. 29 is Cubs outfielder Owen Caissie, who is entering his fourth professional season after being selected by the San Diego Padres in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft.

Caissie never played an inning under the Padres, as COVID shut down the minor league season the year he was drafted and the organization dealt the left-handed bat to the Cubs as part of the Yu DarvishVictor Caratini deal just a few days after Christmas later that year. Looking back, the Padres may end up regretting letting Caissie go in the deal, as the Burlington, Ontario product has come into his own after a breakout 2023 campaign.

Last season, the former Fieldhouse Pirate and Junior National Team alum spent all year in Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies and also suited up for Canada at the World Baseball Classic back in March. He went 3 for 13 in the batter’s box with one home run and four RBIs in the tournament.

Owen Caissie Could Debut in the Big Leagues This Year

Through 120 games with the Smokies, the 6-foot-3 Canuck posted a .289/.399/.519 slash line with 31 doubles, three triples, and a team-leading 22 home runs and 84 RBIs. Caissie also led the team in terms of OPS (.918) and generated 76 walks with a .407 BAbip and a 144 wRC+ but did post an elevated strikeout rate at 31.1%, something the Cubs prospect will need to work on this season as he looks to make the big league squad.

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Defensively, Caissie spent most of his time in right field but had a handful of reps in left field as well, posting a .988 fielding percentage in his natural position with 158 putouts and adding 10 assists, three of which were double plays.

While he is not on the 40-man roster, Caissie received an invite to the Cubs’ big league camp and so far, the organization’s No. 4 ranked prospect has been impressive on the diamond.

Through 25 at-bats and 12 games, the Canadian product has 11 hits on record and has three doubles and one home run to the tune of seven RBIs. The Cubs have been using him in the leadoff spot so far this spring and earlier this month he was tied for the most hits in Spring Training.

He was recently named to the Spring Breakout squad, slated to take on the Chicago White Sox top prospects later this month and has been turning heads with his strong play on the field. The club moved Caissie to the Minor League camp this past Friday, ending any potential Opening Day roster rumours.

Manager Craig Counsell has already stated that Caissie will not be breaking camp with the club, which makes sense considering the franchise isn’t going to rush one of their top prospects who has yet to swing a bat in triple-A and turning 22 later this year. On top of the development, the Cubs have numerous players that play in the corner outfield spots such as Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki, posting a potential block for Caissie to make a quick transition to the big leagues this season.

Speaking to The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma last week, Counsell had this to say about Caissie so far this spring, “Owen, it’s a camp to really listen, learn, watch… He’s probably played more than he thought he was going to play. That’s been great for him; that gives you good feedback. It’s the kind of camp you want for your first major league camp.”

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That being said, should Caissie go to Triple-A and continue to mash the ball and see his strikeout totals come down, it will be tough to keep him down in the Minor Leagues for an extended period.

There is a chance that his plus bat sees the Burlington product on the active roster by the end of the season, especially since he could mould into a 30+ home run hitter given his easy swing and high exit velocities, a common sight in his spring training games.

An injury to one of the main outfielders could also present an opportunity for Caissie but he still needs to go down to Triple-A and adjust to a new level and continue putting the ball in play like the organization saw last season. His play this spring already has also gathered the attention of fans and scouts alike, with Jeff Passan at ESPN featuring Caissie as one of the ten players scouts are interested in during spring training.

The 2023 Baseball Canada Canadian Futures Award and Cubs Minor League Player of the Year (per Baseball America) winner is one of the numerous players from North of the border looking to make an impact at the big league stage sooner than later.

Caissie is one name to keep an eye on this season, as he could be the next Canadian top prospect to make his MLB debut later this season.