How Cubs prospect Reggie Preciado’s journey has prepared him for heightened expectations
Cubs prospect Reginald “Reggie” Preciado isn’t a stranger to high standards.
Heck, since the day he was born, he’s had them.
His father, Victor Preciado loves baseball. Growing up in Panama, the elder Preciado chased his dreams to be a pro ball player. That eventually led him on a path to be a minor leaguer in the Yankees system, where he played in the Gulf Coast League in the mid 1990s, the same organization where his favorite player — Reginald Jackson Martinez, more commonly known as Mr. October, Reggie Jackson — played.
So, when his son was born, Victor Preciado knew exactly what his name was going to be. Hence, Reginald “Reggie” Preciado.
Nowadays, Reggie Preciado — the no. 13 prospect in Lance Brozdowski’s top 25 prospects — has his own high expectations. The 6-foot-4 shortstop was acquired in the 2020 Yu Darvish deal and was considered the centerpiece — along with outfielder Owen Caissie — of the package the Cubs got back.
And that’s just fine with Preciado. After all, baseball is all he knew growing up.
Victor Preciado couldn’t just stay away from the game when his playing career was over. So, when he returned to Panama, he began teaching kids the game. He began building a batting cage so he could expand his instruction, but it was never fully completed. Still, in a country more known for soccer than baseball, Preciado shared his love of the game.
“My dad has always been crazy with baseball,” Reggie Preciado said.
Reggie Preciado learned from his father and wanted to follow in his footsteps. Even so, the path to Major League Baseball from the city of Boquerón in the Chiriquí province in Panama isn’t a common route.
There’s only been 77 Panamanians to play in MLB.
“I think in Panama, you don’t have the potency like in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and countries like that,” Reggie Preciado said.
But he knew there was plenty of talent in his nation. His dad knew that, too. After all, the country had produced the only unanimous hall of famer in Mariano Rivera and another hall of famer, Rod Carew, was born there before he moved to the States as a teen.
That’s why Victor Preciado helped nurture his love of the game. His dreams of becoming a big leaguer started to become a bit more believable when he was around 5 years old.
At that time, the 2008 Phillies team was storming its way towards a World Series title on the backs of stars like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. But there was one name that Preciado and everyone in his province was following — their catcher Carlos Ruiz, nicknamed ‘Calicho’, a native son of Chiriquí.
“Everyone in the town was ‘Calicho’ because he was a big leaguer playing in the World Series,” Preciado said. “It inspires you because you say ‘Ok, I wanna be the next ‘Calicho’ Ruiz, because he won a World Series.”
Preciado’s chance of becoming the next ‘Calicho’ Ruiz came in 2019 when he signed with the San Diego Padres for a reported $1.3 million, showcasing just how highly the Padres thought of the tall shortstop.
“Every kid wants to be a professional,” Preciado said. “It was one of the first steps — there’s still a lot, obviously God-willing, but I think it was a big joy for me, for my family and for my town and for my country.”
After he signed his deal, Preciado made sure he gave back to the man who nurtured that love of the game — his father. He used some of his signing bonus to buy him a car so that he can get around and, more importantly, he helped finish the batting cage he had in his home so he can continue to instruct future Panamanian stars.
“You feel really happy being able to give your parents and family happiness so that they can live well,” Reggie Preciado said. “And it makes you want to keep working so that lifestyle can keep improving for the better.”
As he began his journey in the Padres system, Preciado began to dream about suiting up in a Padres uniform and taking the field at Petco Park.
“You have the goal of getting to the big leagues with that team,” Preciado said.
He thought he was well on that path even amongst the wildness of the shortened 2020 season, when he was a part of the Padres prospects at the alternate site, along with Caissie. That all changed, though, on December 29, 2020.
That’s when Preciado got the news that he had been dealt to the Chicago Cubs along with Zach Davies, Caissie, Yeison Santana and Ismael Mena for Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini.
But the blow was lessened a bit because he was being dealt with his friends Caissie, Santana and Mena. And because of one particular message.
After he was traded another fellow top Panamanian Cubs prospect, Miguel Amaya reached out to him, welcoming him to his new organization. The two had never met, but Amaya made it a point to welcome him.
“When I was traded here, he was one of the first people to write me,” Preciado said. “We have a good relationship and hit it off well, thanks to God.”
He spent the early part of the 2021 season playing in the Dominican Summer League before graduating up to the Arizona Complex League in June.
In the ACL, Preciado hit .333 with an .894 OPS and showcased some of the potential the Cubs saw in him.
“I’m a guy that every game I try to give 100-percent,” Preciado said. “I play hard, no matter what.”
That led to an assignment with Class-A Myrtle Beach to begin the year. And this season will be a real test for him as much off the field as it will be on it. At Myrtle Beach, he’ll face the rigors of living on his own and not around the team’s facilities in Mesa, Ariz. He’ll have to learn to adapt to the minor league life and playing a minor league full season.
But if there’s one thing Preciado has proven, it’s that he’s willing to rise to a challenge. And he knows he has to do that if he wants to be a part of what Jed Hoyer has dubbed time and time again, “the next great Cubs team.”
“I think this is a really beautiful process and we’re still just beginning,” Preciado said. “There’s a lot of talent, tons of talent. God first, with the work we’re doing in the offseason and in season, we can give a ring in the not-too-distant future to the Chicago Cubs.”