The Chicago Cubs are utilizing the World Baseball Classic to get the best out of some of their young prospects.
As the Chicago Cubs continue their rebuild and retool their roster, the future is dependent on the development of some of their young prospects. On top of MiLB, the World Baseball Classic has now become another avenue for player development.
World Baseball Classic: Cubs prospects proving they deserve a roster spot
Starting with Team Israel, they made Matt Mervis the cleanup hitter/first baseman for Sunday’s tournament-opening 3-1 win against Nicaragua. Mervis turns 25 next month, he hasn’t had the greatest success at the plate at the WBC. He is 1 for 9 at the plate and has been walked once in three games.
While Mervis hasn’t played fantastically at the WBC, it was his performance in the Arizona Fall League that got the clubhouses’ attention. Combining his 2022 minor league stats, with his stats with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, he put up 42 home runs and 131 RBIs.
As he progresses, in no time he will be battling for the starting first baseman along with Eric Hosmer, and Trey Mancini. In a chat with Patrick Mooney from The Athletic, Cubs manager David Ross said the following about Mervis:
“I talked to Mervis this offseason, and he was kind of torn about being in camp for the first time and getting to know his teammates and making a good impression, which is all valid. I love that his brain was going there. There’s also the flip side of going to Miami and playing in one of the most intense environments you can probably draw up for a young player. That experience playing against some of the best competition in the world — the D.R., Venezuela, and Puerto Rico — it’s like a playoff atmosphere.”
On top of Mervis, another Cubs prospect has been making a name for himself at the WBC — Owen Caissie. He has been electric at the plate for Team Canada, hitting 3-of-9 in two games with 4 RBIs. He has also come up clutch for them in their recent game against Team Colombia.
Caissie was brought to the Cubs organization after trading Yu Darvish in that salary-dump deal with the Padres back in 2020. Caissie started in High-A with South Bend — and had a rough start, to say the least. Especially, in the month of April, he struck out 21 times in 49 at-bats.
As all baseball players go through slumps, Caissie didn’t let his rugged start dictate his entire season. He turned his season around and finished with 11 homers, 58 RBIs, and a .751 OPS across 105 games.
Even now, he is only 20 years old, and still very young with a mountain of potential. He showcased his talent right out of the gate in a game against Great Britain at the WBC.
The Cubs are looking past the WBC, Spring Training, and Opening Day when it comes to these prospects. Like many of the teams in baseball, the Cubs are dealing with a huge amount of experience gaps in player development, but things are looking up in the rebuild. These two prospects who are playing against the best talent in the world at the WBC will be some prospects to watch moving forward. This experience will benefit them as they progress in their careers.