Pete Crow-Armstrong – Picture by Todd Johnson
In just over a week, I will be making my final monthly All-Star team of the year for August. There are going to be some players on there that have me really excited to see them perform next year in 2023. Hopefully, some of them can pick up where they leave off this year as that would be really exciting. A few of them are currently on prospect lists, a few of them have been on prospect lists before, and some new guys will probably debut on prospect lists in the coming few months.
Here are some guys I can’t wait to see play next year based on how they’re finishing this year. These are in no particular order.
1. PCA – I liked him before he got to South Bend. And I liked him even more after seeing him play almost 20 times this summer in person. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again, I really like how he is maturing. He still makes some wonky decisions from time-to-time, but you can see he is learning from it as he does it. He should begin at Double-A next year. Part of me is questioning whether he’s going to need Triple-A if he’s destroying Southern League pitching.
2. Parker Chavers – When he fell to the Cubs in the 2021 MLB draft, I was pretty excited. At one point, he was a top 100 Draft guy before he slipped a little due to injury. His Cubs career had been filled with injuries, to0. But over the last 5 to 6 weeks, he’s gone from Arizona to Myrtle Beach and into my consciousness. I just love to watch him hit as he can barrel up a baseball as well as anybody. He’s not going to hit a lot of home runs, but he’s going to hit the ball a lot. He is in contention, along with PCA, for hitter of the month in August. When the South Bend schedule comes out at some point in October or early November, I am going to be looking towards to when I can see him at the earliest possible convenience in either Beloit, Peoria, the Quad Cities, or Appleton. If I have to take a day off of school, I am there.
3. Moises Ballesteros – seeing him hit at Myrtle Beach in the past 18 games has been a delight. He just generates such easy power that he just drives the ball naturally. It looks like he’s lost a little weight, but I am wondering if they will continue to have him catching. His defense has improved greatly throughout this year. Still, we probably should him start out the year at Myrtle Beach. But it would be really cool if the Cubs thought he was a good enough hitter to survive at High-A south Bend at age 19.
4. Even though Cristian Hernandez did not have a great year, he did not have a terrible one either. He hit in the 260s and drove in a lot of runs, but he also struck out 30% of the time. He’s just 18 and I am willing to bet that he’s going to be much improved in 2023 at Myrtle Beach.
5 Brody McCullough – The Cubs 10th round pick is quite a sleeper and could be a break out prospect next year. He’s probably debuting at Myrtle Beach here in the next couple of days and he’ll only pitch couple of innings. Even though he is a D2 player, he’s faced enough elite competition in the summers that he’s going to hold his own wherever the Cubs send him next year.
6. Luis Verdugo – The bat has caught up to his glove. There’s still plenty of room for him to add on some weight and more muscle and turn his doubles into home runs. It was fun watching him evolve as a hitter this year. He came out hot in April and did not have a good May and has been hitting very well all summer long in all different parts of the order in South Bend. He’s just gonna barrel up some balls and hit line drives everywhere in 2023. I’m excited to see him in Tennessee.
7. Pedro Ramirez – North Side Bound‘s rookie league player of the year is now in Myrtle Beach. I’m hoping to see him in the lineup tonight and I can get a little preview for next year. It will fun to see ho much fun he’s going to be at the place, in the field, and on the base paths. If the rave reviews that he got in Arizona are any indication, he might be a top 15 prospect when we do our rankings in November. I’m pretty pumped to see him as a Pelican tonight along with next year.
I could continue on forever with this list. I could include Jeremiah Estrada and Zac Leigh as two relievers I am excited to see possibly make it to Chicago next year. I’m excited to see Ethan Hearn at south bend is I’ll get to watch his game up close and personal he’s improved quite a bit the last month. I’m also excited to see Alcântara, Triantos, and Pagan every day in South Bend. And I’m also excited to see just exactly how the 2022 draft class of pitchers is going to work out including Horton and Ferris to name a couple. And Drew Gray will hopefully return healthy at the beginning of the year.
When the minor league season does end at the end of September, I’ll be doing some affiliate reviews and some possible storylines for 2023 that are gonna involve all of the afore mentioned names. Depending upon what happens in the Arizona Fall League and how big spenders and traders the Cubs are this off-season, there’s a lot to look forward to 2023.
Now that I have kind of mentioned all these things, there still two weeks left in class A, three at Tennessee, and a month in Iowa. We’ll see if we can add to my list over the next 2 to 4 weeks.