Each offseason, MiLB.com goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Chicago Cubs.
2023 organization summary:
Triple-A Iowa: 82-65
Double-A Tennessee: 75-62 (Southern League champions)
High-A South Bend: 57-73
Single-A Myrtle Beach: 75-55
ACL Cubs: 18-37
DSL Cubs Red: 24-28
DSL Cubs Blue: 17-37
Overall record: 348-357 (16th among MLB organizations)
Midseason Farm System Rankings: 4
Cubs 2023 Organization All-Stars
C: Moises Ballesteros (CHC No. 7)
A/A+/AA: .285/.374/.449, 117 G, 14 HR, 64 RBI, 64 R, 63 BB, 7 SB
The 20-year-old displayed an advanced approach and impressive bat-to-ball skills, particularly after his promotion to High-A, in his first full season. Cubs player development director Jared Banner described Ballesteros as one of the “best pure hitters'' in the system. He finished fourth among Chicago’s full-season qualifiers in batting, including a .300/.364/.463 line in 56 games at South Bend. The burly 5-foot-7 backstop caught 25 runners stealing and played 26 games at first base.
1B: Haydn McGeary (CHC No. 17)
A+/AA: .275/.397/.462, 124 G, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 65 R, 80 BB, 7 SB
The Division II legend has risen quickly since being drafted in the 15th round last year. McGeary proved ready for a promotion to Double-A after just 20 games, batting .368 with 11 extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in 76 at-bats at South Bend. The 6-foot-4 slugger maintained an impressive on-base percentage (.382) and continued to hit for power (16 homers) in the Southern League. McGeary finished with the most RBIs in the system.
2B: Matt Shaw (CHC No. 6, MLB No. 96)
ROK/A+/AA: .357/.400/.618, 38 G, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 27 R, 9 BB, 15 SB
Shaw hit the ground running after being selected with the No. 13 overall pick in July and eventually secured the final out of Tennessee’s Southern League championship. The Maryland product spent the bulk of his first pro action at South Bend, where he batted .393 with a 1.082 OPS. Shaw batted .292 with an .852 OPS over 15 games with the Smokies and finished with the second-most total bases (97) among 2023 Draftees.
3B: BJ Murray Jr. (CHC No. 18)
AA: .263/.382/.462, 124 G, 16 HR, 74 RBI, 71 R, 82 BB, 14 SB
The native of the Bahamas represented Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic in March and homered in the Southern League championship clincher in September. In between, the 23-year-old showed off elite strike zone awareness, prompting Banner to attest, “if BJ doesn’t swing at it, you pretty much know it’s not a strike.” Murray was one of 18 Minor Leaguers with at least 70 RBIs, 80 walks and an OBP better than .380 this season.
SS: Luis Vazquez
AA/AA: .271/.361/.456, 124 G, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 72 R, 54 BB, 10 SB
The 2017 14th-rounder had his slow, steady climb through the system rewarded when he was added to the 40-man roster on Monday. Vazquez enjoyed his best professional season in 2023, reaching career highs in almost every offensive category, particularly his homer output, which more than doubled his previous personal best. The 24-year-old maintained a .381 OBP with 20 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs in 66 Triple-A games and finished fifth in the system in runs and RBIs.
OF: Owen Caissie (CHC No. 3, MLB No. 64)
AA: .289/.398/.519, 120 G, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 77 R, 76 BB, 7 SB
The 21-year-old overcame a slow start and was named as the Cubs’ Hitting Prospect of the Year, despite being one of the younger players in the Southern League. Caissie struck out in 41.8 percent of his at-bats over his first 64 games before lowering that mark to 26.7 percent in his final 60 contests. Caissie, who represented Canada in the WBC, led Cubs qualifiers with a 144 wRC+ and was fourth in OBP, SLG and OPS (.918).
OF: Pete Crow-Armstrong (CHC No. 1, MLB No. 12)
AA/AA: .283/.365/.511, 107 G, 20 HR, 82 RBI, 98 R, 46 BB, 37 SB
Crow-Armstrong displayed his usual brand of truly exciting five-tool talent before his first first big league promotion in September. In addition to playing stellar defense at all three corner outfield spots, the 21-year-old was one of three players in the Minors with at least 20 homers, seven triples and 35 stolen bases this season. Banner noted that Crow-Armstrong took the advice of the organization and was more selective in his approach as the year progressed.
OF: Yonathan Perlaza
AAA: .284/.389/.534, 121 G, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 100 R, 76 BB, 13 SB
Perlaza reached Triple-A for the first time during his seventh Minor League season and set career highs in doubles (40) and RBIs while matching his personal-best homer output and recording his highest batting average since 2018. The 24-year-old Cuban led Chicago’s system in total hits (131), doubles and runs and finished second in homers. Perlaza had been with the Cubs since signing in 2015, but he elected free agency this week.
RHP: Cade Horton (CHC No. 2, MLB No. 29)
A/A+/AA: 4-4, 2.65 ERA, 88 ⅓ IP, 117 K, 27 BB, .191 BAA, 1.00 WHIP
Horton was a finalist for MiLB Pitching Prospect of the Year in his first professional season. The Cubs kept Horton to a short workload, but he was mostly dominant from wire to wire – even securing the win in the Smokies’ title clincher. The 22-year-old made two hitless starts and 11 in which he did not allow an earned run. His fastball and slider are his highest graded pitches, but Banner noted that Horton’s curveball and changeup have seen exceptional development.
LHP: Jordan Wicks (CHC No. 10)
AA/AAA: 7-0, 3.55 ERA, 91 ⅓ IP, 99 K, 32 BB, .223 BAA, 1.17 WHIP
The 24-year-old was the only pitcher in the Minors to have more than four wins with no losses on their record this season. With Iowa, Wicks posted a 3.82 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .217 average. His walk rate (9.6 percent) was a bit high at Triple-A, but he reduced that figure to 7.5 percent after he took over a regular rotation role for the Cubs and got away from the ABS system.
RP: Luke Little (CHC No. 25)
A+/AA/AAA: 5-2, 2.12 ERA, 63 ⅔ IP, 105 K, 42 BB, .179 BAA, 1.29 WHIP
Little shifted to the bullpen full time in May after working as a starter in his first two professional seasons. The 23-year-old posted the best ERA among all Cubs prospects to complete at least 30 Minor League innings and made his Major League debut as a reliever in September. The 6-foot-8 southpaw, who mixes an upper-90’s fastball with a sweeping slider, recorded 25 scoreless appearances, 16 of which were hitless, in the Minors.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.