Owen Caissie wanted to avoid replicating his start from 2022.
The outfielder spent that season at High-A South Bend, where he struggled to get going and was unsatisfied with his early results.
Beyond the increase in competition, jumping to Double-A Tennessee in 2023 also meant dealing with the pre-tacked baseball in play in the Southern League in the first half. That proved to be a boon for pitchers and a bane for hitters.
When the dust settled, Caissie had put together the best season in the organization.
“It was really impressive,” Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said. “He came into camp ready to go and got off to that fast start. He wanted to build some momentum and prove to himself that he was ready for that level.
“And he hasn’t slowed down—he’s only gotten better.”
Caissie’s stellar April became the foundation for one of the top offensive seasons in the Cubs’ system, all while doing it as one of the youngest players in Double-A. Caissie, who turned 21 in July, faced a pitcher younger than himself in just 10 of his 518 plate appearances.
The lefthanded hitter finished with a .289/.399/.519 batting line with 22 home runs and 31 doubles in 120 games.
The Cubs acquired Caissie from the Padres in the December 2020 trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Padres. The organization believes the 6-foot-3 Caissie, a San Diego second-round pick out of an Ontario high school in 2020, still has more power potential as he continues to physically mature.
After striking out nearly 38% of the time through May, Caissie showed a better eye and swing decisions as the season progressed. He cut down on his strikeout rate and in September posted nine walks and 14 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances.
“I attribute it to his awareness and just adjusting to a new level,” Banner said. “He’s been producing the whole time, but I think he wasn’t happy with the amount of strikeouts and he wanted to make that adjustment.
“Seeing more pitches and improving his approach has really been fruitful.”