Owen Caissie – Pic via Tennessee Smokies

The big news of the week was that the Tennessee Smokies went out and swept the Chattanooga Lookouts in two games to advance to the Southern League championship series!

On Tuesday, Cade Horton looked like a top 15 prospect in all of baseball as he dominated with five innings and seven strikeouts. He did not allow a run as he gave up just 3 hits and needed only 71 pitches as the Smokies won 3-1.

On Thursday night, Kevin Alcantara hit a three run home run to stake the Smokies to a lead. Walker Powell went five innings and struck out six and is probably the most underrated pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system right. All he’s done all year long has been to go out and pitch five or six innings every night.

The Smokies will now take on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in a best of three series for the championship.

The two teams played 11 times this year with Tennessee only winning four. All 11 of those games were in the first half.

I am really digging the Smokies’ chances because you really only need two dominant pitchers in the minor leagues to win a series. The Smokies have that in Horton and Powell. 

Add in the fact that they’ve added Kevin Alcântara, Moises Ballesteros, Ezequiel Pagán, James Triantos, and Christian Franklin and that has really lengthened that lineup. 

I am pulling for another sweep.

Owen Caissie Pub

All Breakout Team

Owen Caissie got some top prospect love this week as he was named to the All-Breakout Team from MLB Network. It’s always fun to see a player that Cubs prospect lovers have been hyped on for a while finally get some national recognition.

MLB Pipeline also named Caissie as the most improved Cubs prospect this year. Here is what they had to say: 

The highest-drafted Canadian outfielder ever, Caissie is the best part of the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Padres. He turned just 21 in July of this year and might have the most power of any player in the Top 100, registering elite-level exit velocities and banging out 22 homers in Double-A this season, a big reason why he’s jumped up from No. 13 on the Cubs’ preseason Top 30 to No. 3.

Horton in the Running

Cade Horton was nominated this week for the minor league pitcher of the year. It’s doubtful he’ll win, but it’s cool to see him thought of that highly.

Even with the Cubs understandably being cautious with his workload, the right-hander managed to pitch his way across three levels and put himself on a fast track to Wrigley. Among all Minor League pitchers with 80 or more innings, Horton finished in the top five in both WHIP and K-BB percentage and was second in that group with a 2.99 xFIP. He stood out among his Top 100 colleagues as well, finishing second in WHIP and third in ERA, again among those top pitching prospects who surpassed the 80 IP mark.

Debuts of the Week

Four 2023 draft picks made their debuts in instructs this week out in Arizona. Arizona Phil wrote about them at The Cubs Reporter: I was excited to see Will Sanders get some action in as he was one of my favorite selections in this year’s class, And things got better when our own Rich Biesterfeld had some pics of the debut.

Four Cub pitchers made their professional game debuts in the game, including RHP Will Sanders (2023 4th round draft pick – U. of South Carolina), LHP Daniel Brown (2023 16th round draft pick – Campbell U.), RHP Nick Dean (2023 19th round draft pick – U. of Maryland), and RHP Kenten Egbert (2023 NDFA – Miami U. of Ohio).  

W. Sanders was outstanding, Egbert was OK, Dean was a bit wild, and D. Brown was REALLY wild (walked three of the four batters he faced, uncorked three wild pitches, and threw only one strike — turned into the 4-3 GO — among his 14 pitches, most of which ended up sailing over the catcher’s head or behind the batter, or were spiked five feet in front of home plate).

Pics of the Week

My favorite pics of the week came from the Chicago Cubs who had many of their Latin players draped in their country’s flags this week. I always think that it is just plain cool to see them show pride for their home country.

Jam of the Week

Sarah Jarosz began her career as a wonder kid on the bluegrass/Americana circuit. She would later go to Berklee and release her own Grammy winning albums and formed the super trio I’m With Her with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan. Her latest solo release has a more contemporary sound (also known as drums) on “Jealous Moon.” And, if you are wondering, she is playing a mandocello guitar. It has 8 strings in the same note sequence as a mandolin.