The Chicago Cubs have one of the most improved minor league systems in all of Major League Baseball. That didn’t happen because they dealt Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman at the deadline for a massive haul, it happened because of solid development at the lower levels and what appears to be a great crop of rookies from the Rule 4 Draft in June.
These are the best prospects in the Cubs system. Newly acquired infielder Michael Busch would have slotted in at number five ahead of Moises Ballesteros had the list been created after the trade, but that goes to show how deep, and how talented this farm really is. Every player in this top five has the ability to be a future All-Star and every one of them could be a top ten prospect in the league as early as the end of this season.
Let’s dive into the list.
2023 Level(s): Low-A Myrtle Beach, High-A South Bend, AA Tennessee
Joined the organization via: IFA Signing in 2021
2023 Stats: 494 PA, .285/.375/.449, 14 HR, 41 XBH, 7/7 SB, 64 RBI, 64 R
To say Ballesteros came out of nowhere would be misleading and condescending. That being said, I didn’t have a catcher being a top-five prospect in this absolutely loaded farm system on my bingo card to start the year last season.
Let’s go through some of the things he did last season. First of all, he played at three levels (finishing the year at AA Tennessee) at the age of 19, playing inarguably the toughest position on the diamond. He hit for average and got on base every step of the way, carrying an incredible .285/.375/.449 slash line. He hit for power to the tune of 41 extra-base hits in 494 plate appearances and he even managed to be a bit of a menace on the base paths posting a 100% success rate in seven steal attempts.
That being said, the thing that I find most impressive about Ballesteros, and the reason that I think he’s an even more impressive prospect than Miguel Amaya or Willson Contreras ever were, is his ability to limit the strikeouts. He walked (63) nearly as often as he struck out (78). He did that as a teenager, learning to play the hardest defensive position across three levels with a myriad of pitchers that he was communicating with, against pitchers significantly older than him in a league that was using pre-tacked baseballs.
Ballesteros should start the season in AA Tennessee and get a chance to dominate there before moving to AAA. In a perfect world, he’s not being called upon to help the major league club until 2026, but if he posts as good of a season in 2024 as he did in 2023, then he could force his way to Wrigley by 2025.