Owen Caissie – Picture by Scott Changnon/Marquee Sports Network
2022 is going to be an exciting year for the Cubs’ minor league system. With new draft picks and new international free agents, the system is brimming with talent especially after some deadline deals at the end of July. However, the one player I am looking most forward to watching play every day was not acquired last summer, but almost a year ago. Outfielder Owen Caissie quickly became a favorite of mine last year when he played for Mesa in the Arizona Complex League. He did get a cup of coffee at Myrtle Beach, and I’m pretty pumped to see what he can do day-in and day-out next summer.
Age 19 – July 2, 2002
Height – 6 foot-4
Weight – 190
Bats – Left
Throws – Right
Acquired in a trade with San Diego, December 2020
Originally second round pick Padres 2020
What I like most about Owen Caissie is his beautiful swing. His hands are quick through the zone. He can barrel up balls to all parts of the ballpark. He also hit’s for average and walks quite a bit. He’s not just a home run hitter.
Looking at a stat line from last year, all the aforementioned attributes really pop out. His BB percentage is ungodly at 19% in Mesa and 17% in Myrtle Beach.He does strike out a little bit, but it may be balanced out by the amount of times he can put the ball on the bat.
At Mesa, Caissie hit .349 with a 1.074 OPS and a wRC+ of 179 after just turning 19. He hit 6 HRs and drove in 20 over 32 games. In Myrtle Beach, he only saw action in 22 games hitting .233 with a .367 OBP and only cranked out 1 HR. Many other flyballs died on the track as they are prone to do in the Pelicans’ home ballpark. 22 games is a small sample size but he struggled a little bit moving up a level (two if you are old school). However, it does point out that Caissie has some things to work on for 2022.
To Do List for 2022
1. Add Muscle and Maintain Flexibility
This could be written for any 19-year-old kid in the system, but Caissie needs to add muscle not just in his arms and shoulders, but he needs to strengthen his core and hips as well as his legs to turn his doubles into home runs. That’s going to be a little bit tough playing in Myrtle Beach this summer but I’m still excited to see him drive the ball deep into the gaps and over the fences at other ballparks.
2. Defensive Routes
There are those who are trying to convince you that Caissie should just be plugged in at first base and you could forget about it. But he’s actually got a decent enough arm in the outfield. I just would like to see him take some better routes to the baseball as he could easily be plugged in left field for a long time to come if he can do that.
This seems to be a common theme for me as young players begin to move up through the system. They know that people out there expect things from them. But they can only focus on one pitch at a time. For Caissie, he’s going to be facing much more advanced pitching this year than he saw in the Arizona Complex League and the first couple months are going to be quite the learning experience. I guess that patience could also be included for fans as the missing step of short season ball creates quite the jump between rookie ball and Low-A.
Owen tends to hold his hands very high in his pre-swing stance. For some players, that can work out just fine because it all becomes part of a timing mechanism. It’ll be interesting to see how Caissie continues to hold his hands before he begins his swing. Will the Cubs try to get him to lower his hands to start his swing earlier or will they just keep things the same? It’s almost a nitpicky thing to look at, but it is one small part of his mechanical process that is going to be evaluated at some point. Right now, I don’t think the Cubs will make any adjustments as it is probably an important part of his power generating system.
I’m pretty pumped to see him get going in the spring and I’m wondering if he gets in a game or two with the big league club in Mesa just to give him a little taste of the big leagues just to whet his tongue. That would be extremely fun.