Insiders project the Chicago Cubs top prospect in 2026

Meet Moises Ballesteros, the Chicago Cubs' top prospect for 2026. Find out why scouts compare him to Alejandro Kirk and why he's ranked among the top-catching prospects in baseball.

MATTIE NERETIN / USA TODAY NETWORK
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We’re inching ever closer to pitchers and catchers reporting and there was just an exciting report on a Chicago Cubs catching prospect that we at Cubbies Crib have been excited about for over a year now.

According to MLB Pipeline, the expectation is that the Cubs' top prospect in 2026 will be Moises Ballesteros, a player that we already had ranked as our fifth-best prospect in the system this winter and one that MLB Pipeline tagged as the eighth-best catching prospect in baseball coming into 2024.  

There are probably a couple of reasons for this decision:

First, Ballesteros is really good. Scouts draw comparisons to Alejandro Kirk due to the obvious... build similarities, but he's better at the plate at this age than Kirk was. This is what we had to say when we wrote about him for the top 30 prospect list:

"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.""

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Second, catchers take more time to develop than just about any other position outside of pitchers. Despite Ballesteros flying through the minors last season and ending 2023 at AA as a teenager, the idea that he could spend all of 2024 in Double-A and all of 2025 in Triple-A isn’t outlandish.

Third, the players ahead of him on our top prospects list all have ETA’s well before 2026. Pete Crow-Armstrong will likely make the opening day roster, Cade Horton and Matt Shaw could be up by the All-Star Break and Kevin Alcantara plays in the outfield which leads to a quicker development than catchers. 

Finally, the Cubs are a team on the rise, and with that comes a willingness to trade from the prospect treasure trove that Jed Hoyer has built up. If Alcantara still has prospect status by 2026, it’s likely with another team. The same could be said for infielder James Triantos and outfielder Owen Caissie.

The names to keep an eye on that could give Ballesteros a run for his money would be Jefferson Rojas, Alexis Hernandez, Cristian Hernandez, and Fernando Cruz, all of whom play shortstop and all of whom were signed by International Free Agency like Ballesteros. 

Finally, you can never rule out the player that the Cubs draft in the 2024 MLB Draft or even the 2025 MLB Draft, although if all goes according to plan the 30th-best player in that draft shouldn’t be a top 100 prospect when the preseason lists come around.

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