Cade Horton – Picture by Todd Johnson
Welcome to the third monthly All-Star team for the 2023 season. If it seems like I just did an All-Star team, I did two weeks ago with the first half All-Star team. But you’re going to see a lot of different names here from that list. This list only goes for the month of June and has some interesting names singled out for their performance the past 30 days.
June was a lot of fun to cover. I got to go to a lot of games and see several players in person who played for South Bend at one point. It was a lot of fun to see three new players who made this list come up to South Bend in the last week.
Let’s do the pitchers first this month.
Tennessee – DJ Herz, Cayne Ueckert, Ben Hecht, and Manny Espinoza
South Bend – Joe Nahas, Jarod Wright, Cade Horton, Didier Vargas, Adam Laskey, and Michael Arias,
Myrtle Beach – Yovanny Cabrera, Angel Gonzalez, Johzan Oquendo, Brody McCullough, Luis Rujano, and Grant Kipp,
To begin the list, it’s cool to see DJ Herz make a monthly All-Star team again and for Manny Espinoza to do very well at South Bend and then get promoted to Tennessee after missing the entire second half of 2022. It’s also cool to see Cayne Ueckert back on the list after a rough year in 2022. The South Bend and Myrtle Beach staffs both shoved quite a bit and probably would’ve had a few more pitchers if not for one bad outing. It just goes to show you the depth of pitching that the Cubs have in A ball.
And, yes, as you can plainly see, no pitcher from Iowa is on All-Star team. Starter Chris Clarke was the closest.
Iowa – Jared Young, Bryce Windham, Dom Nunez, David Bote, Yonathan Perlaza
Tennessee – Haydn McGeary, Luis Vazquez, PCA, Owen Caissie, Casey Opitz
South Bend– Sergio Alcantara, Yohendrick Pinango, Ezequiel Pagan, Moises Ballesteros, Felix Stevens, and Jacob Wetzel
Myrtle Beach – Reivaj Garcia, Ismael Mena, Pedro Ramirez, Parker Chavers, Jefferson Rojas, and Rafael Morel
Iowa had a squad that dominated the April All-Star team come back a little bit this month. Jared Young just dominated the month even though he left to go to Chicago four days ago. He still lead in most statistical categories for the month. It was good to see Bryce Windham make his second All-Star team in a row after being injured, most of the first month. Hayden McGeary adjusted in a big way at Tennessee and I decided to place Casey Opitz on the list because he did produce at South Bend and is now just getting started at Tennessee.
Meanwhile, Kevin Alcantara just looks like a different hitter in June than the one I saw all spring. He is not chasing after every pitch. He’s laying back looking for a ball to drive or go the other way. I have been really impressed with him this past week in Beloit. He walked three times in the first two games and had a home run and a triple while also flashing off his defensive skills.
As for Myrtle Beach, those guys are just raking it in a pitcher’s league. And even though there’s a large number on that list, I put Moises Ballesteros and Felix Stevens in with South bend because they’re on that team now. I am pretty sure I am ready for Parker Chavers to head to South Bend. And, on a sidenote, it is really cool to see Pedro Ramirez bounce back this month after returning from Mesa. He began the year in Myrtle Beach and then was sent down and did nothing but rake since he’s come back.
Hitter of the Month
This is probably the easiest choice I have had in while as a Jared Young’s statistics far out pace anyone else in the system. He hit .386 with eight home runs and 25 RBI. and he only played a little over three weeks before being sent up to Chicago with three games left in the month. And then he hit a home run in his first game in the majors in 2022.
Starting Pitcher of the Month
This was a two-person competition. It came down to the last two nights. Cade Horton shoved on Thursday night, The fastball was exploding late in the zone. He threw the best changeup I have seen him throw all year. And he allowed one hit in 5.2 innings, he is ready for Tennessee. As a result, Horton took the award with a 0.92 ERA for the month with 29 Ks in 19.2 IP. He also had a 0.76 WHIP and a batting average against of .136, all outstanding numbers!
Reliever of the Month
This goes to Angel Gonzalez in Myrtle Beach, who did not allow or run seven appearances. He also struck out 11 in 10.2 innings IP. I would expect to see him in South Bend in the second half along with several other Pelicans pitchers.
Affiliate of the Month
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans made this an easy choice. They won their second straight first half title under Buddy Bailey and clinched a spot for the postseason in June. However, I don’t think the Birds are done. Knowing Buddy, he is going to have them punching the clock every day and he will not give an inch for the next 60 games. It should be fun watching the Pelicans try and bring home another Carolina League title.