Kevin Alcántara and Owen Caissie focus on progress over pressure | Trending Viral hub

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MESA, Arizona – Kevin Alcantara smiled as he thought about the 415-foot home run he hit a day earlier.

Five days of rest between Cactus League appearances due to a mild hamstring issue did not hinder Alcántara’s pace at the plate. The Chicago Cubs’ No. 5 prospect undoubtedly hit a solo home run to center field on Sunday, his first of the spring and one that showed prodigious power as he grew to his 6-foot-6 frame.

“As for the physical aspect, I feel like it’s there, I feel like I have it now,” Alcántara told La Tribuna through an interpreter. “I just want to continue improving mentally. A lot of players can have the physical aspects, but if you don’t have that mental aspect, that’s how you take it to the next level.

“For me, it’s like I’m ready. “I’m ready to move on to the next level, which is the big leagues.”

Alcantara reached Double A at the end of last season and learned how the strike zone continues to shrink as pitchers gain better control as they move up the levels. He knows that he needs to continue perfecting his approach and his movements. When he makes contact, Alcántara does damage. Given his ability to play center field and his all-around athleticism, it’s a tempting combination.

“He has that ‘Jaguar’ mentality. I know you guys have seen the Jaguar side of him and once you see that, you know he’s in a different mode,” assistant general manager Jared Banner said Monday, referring to Alcántara’s nickname. “He really believes in himself. He knows how talented he is and plans to be a very good baseball player. He is closer every day.”

Chicago Cubs outfielder Owen Caissie loses his hat while chasing a fly ball in practice on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona.  (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Cubs outfielder Owen Caissie loses his hat while chasing a fly ball in practice on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune).

Alcántara joins Pete Crow-Armstrong and Owen Caissie as promising young outfield talents. Approaching the midpoint of the spring schedule, Caissie has been the Cubs’ best hitter. After recording a single in Monday’s 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres, Caissie is 9 for 17 (.529) with two doubles, one home run, six RBIs, three walks and four strikeouts in eight games.

A non-roster invitee in his first major league camp, Caissie spent the 2023 season at Double-A Tennessee as one of the youngest players in the Southern League. He posted a .289/.399/.519 line with 22 home runs and 31 doubles to help the Smokies win the league title. When Caissie analyzes his stellar season, it’s not the numbers that stand out.

“The most important thing I learned was to be mentally strong,” Caissie told the Tribune. “I just want to continue that throughout the season, be at peace with myself in the box, be really level-headed about everything. Failure is going to happen and I have to accept it. That was the most important thing for me, to not be so pressured to fail because even the best fail and if I want to get to where I want to be, I have to accept that.”

Caissie, who spent part of his offseason training at Cressey Sports Performance in Florida, focused on improving his mental game, getting stronger and improving against lefties heading into spring training. Left-to-left matchups are often difficult for hitters and Caissie wants to get more comfortable in those situations by getting more reps. She batted .224 with a .331 on-base percentage and .755 OPS against lefties in 2023. Caissie took plenty of batting practice from lefties and left-handed angle machines during the offseason.

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