Kevin Alcantara – Picture by Stephanie Lynn
Thanks for coming back to our preseason extravaganza at North Side Bound. Over the past we predicted who we thought would lead statistical categories in hitting, starting pitching, and relieving. Now, we shift gears to some more predictions as we take a look at who we think will be the hitter of the year, the starting pitcher of the year, and the reliever of the year in the system.
One thing to keep in mind for all three of these awards is that the player we pick is someone who’s going to have to remain in the system for most of the year. It can’t be somebody who’s called up in June or July, but someone called up in September could still win the award. Let’s see who each writer picked to win the hitter of the year.
Today also marks the NSB debut of Richard Colaizzi, our newest contributor! He will have some comments every day this week for our yearly awards. We are very much excited to see what Richard adds to the website this summer!
Last year’s winner – Matt Mervis
The first player that came to mind was Kevin Alcántara. But then I dug into the numbers and my projected assignments and I felt even more passionately that my answer here is Kevin Alcántara. El Jaguar put up really decent numbers as a 19 year old in Myrtle Beach last year and he should absolutely thrive with the bat outside of Pelicans Ballpark this season. He BASHed 128 a year ago, good for second-best in the entire system behind PCA, and that newly developed metric is meant to be a little predictive of future offensive production. I’ve said before that the lanky outfielder is primed for a major breakout in 2023 and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he finishes off the campaign as a Top 20 prospect in all of baseball.
Owen Caissie, Kevin Alcántara, Pete Crow-Armstrong? These are all guys who could cause people to break the Statistics page at North Side Bound because of how often they use the bandwidth. We’ll take that risk, of course. But I believe we’re forgetting a qualified MiLB Hitter of the Year candidate, Jake Slaughter. Slaughter had a really strong season last year and it feels like all of the ability is coming together at the right time. Unlike some awards this isn’t a pure “which top hitting prospect had the best season?”. Slaughter is a quality prospect in his own right, but I believe he builds on his 2022 season and showcases power and speed in the upper levels of the minors to give him a legitimate MLB opportunity.
This was a very tough call to make. With PCA, Matt Mervis, and Brennen Davis likely to make it to Chicago at some point, I knew that left me with Owen Caissie and Kevin Alcantara. I would have liked to included Alexander Canario but his odds of getting in games before June 1 are very slim. As a result. I had to choose between Caissie and Alcantara.
Owen really matured as a hitter and a defender over the course of the last year and the WBC as did Alcántara in 2022. The two youngsters are extremely exciting to watch and will be all of 2023. Alcántara will probably drive in more runs than Owen as well as make some splashy plays in CF, but Owen will probably hit more runs than Alcántara and has a cannon for an arm. It’s pretty much neck and neck for me. I will let the video do the talking for me.
Moises Ballesteros- A lesser known prospect by many, Ballesteros should start the season at (A) Myrtle Beach while still being young for the level, he won’t turn 20 until after the season ends. Historically a tough place to hit, Moises showed enough bat to ball skills and an emerging power tool in 31 games last season, to warrant my selection for this category. I expect his BB/K ratio to improve, along with his OBP and extra base power. Expect more doubles and HR’s for the Pelicans this 2023 season. A top 7-8 organizational prospect by seasons end. And if the defensive ability lines up with the bat….LOOK OUT.
We will be back tomorrow with our Starting Pitcher of the Year!
Slaughter is intriguing for this year, but PCA and ONKC are five-six years younger, which is huge. It is their youth (same goes for El Jaguar) and room for growth, mental emotional and physical, that gives us such a pleasure in dreaming on them. Same with our 21 and 22 year old pitchers.