Cubs Minor League

Cubs top prospects claim 2023 minor league player, pitcher of the year

8 months agoTony Andracki

Moises Ballesteros is putting himself on the map and Cade Horton continues his ascent to one of the game’s best pitching prospects.

On Thursday afternoon, the Cubs announced Ballesteros as the Buck O’Neil Minor League Player of the Year and Horton as the Vedie Himsl Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Ballesteros played the entire 2023 campaign at age 19 (he doesn’t turn 20 until November), starting at Class-A Myrtle Beach before a promotion to Advanced Class-A South Bend and then finishing the year with Double-A Tennessee, helping the Smokies claim a championship.

The left-handed hitting catcher/first baseman had an impressive season despite being younger than the rest of his peers. In Double-A, Ballesteros was 4.6 years younger than the average player.

In 117 games, he slashed .285/.375/.449 (.823 OPS) with 27 doubles, 14 homers, 64 RBI and went a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases. He also displayed solid plate discipline with 62 walks and 78 RBI.

The Cubs signed Ballesteros as an international free agent in January 2021 and he came in at No. 24 on Lance Brozdowski’s preseason Cubs prospect rankings.

Horton was the Cubs’ 1st round pick in 2022 as they selected him 7th overall out of the University of Oklahoma.

The 22-year-old right-hander followed the same path as Ballesteros from Myrtle Beach to South Bend to Tennessee.

Horton got the win in the championship-clinching game Tuesday night with 5 strong innings. In total, he was 4-4 with a 2.65 ERA and 0.996 WHIP in 21 starts this season. He struck out a whopping 117 batters in 88.1 innings (11.9 K/9) during his first professional season.

Brozdowski ranked Horton as the No. 11 Cubs prospect prior to the season.

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