Moises Ballesteros – Picture by Todd Johnson

The baseball season is now at an end. The minor league season ended on Tuesday when Tennessee swept the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Southern League championship series. And then this weekend, the Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention in the wildcard race. They wrapped up their season this afternoon and that means the off-season is at hand.

North Side Bound will release their player awards over the course of this next week. We will have a hitter of the year, a starting pitcher of the year, a reliever of the year, and a breakout player of the year award for this week.

Boogers and Bits from the Past Week

In last week’s Weekly, we mentioned that Baseball America’s Player of the Year award went to Owen Caissie. The Cubs did not agree. They selected Moises Ballesteros as their own Player of the Year and Cade Horton as their Pitcher of the Year. Ballesteros was a bit of a surprise as he probably would’ve been somewhere in the 3 to 5 range on my list. Still, it’s hard to take away from the season that he had playing at three different levels. It’s now going to be exciting to see him spend most of his 20-year-old season at Tennessee.

Minor League Baseball also has several awards coming up and Pete Crow-Armstrong and Cade Horton are nominated for several of them over at MLB Pipeline.

The Arizona Fall league will kick off this week and MLB Pipeline also put out which prospect to watch for each organization. For the Cubs, they picked Kevin Alcantara, and that is no surprise. I’m excited to see how he does against that level of competition. Clayton Mortensen once told me that Alcântara tends to rise to the moment. The bigger the moment, the better he plays, and we saw that in the playoffs in Tennessee.

While he missed time with a leg injury, Alcántara did still reach double digits in both homers and steals in 2023. He also got nudged up to Double-A in time to help Tennessee win the Southern League title. He’s a 6-foot-6 bucket of tools the Cubs got from the Yankees in the Anthony Rizzo trade and could be one of the most dynamic prospects in the Fall League this year.

Pic of the Week

DJ Herz is also in the AFL. Good to see him again!

IFA Rankings

Jesse Sanchez of released his top 50 international free agents this week. He did not, however, link all 50 guys to teams. Normally he does do that, but for some reason he did not this year. The player the Cubs have been linked to the most is shortstop Fernando Cruz, who is all of 16. He will be 17 when he’s eligible to sign on January 15. He was ranked number four on Sanchez’s list.

Draft Calculations

The Cubs have a very very slim chance of getting in the draft lottery this year. More than likely, they’re going to end up picking 17th where they will get a very good player. They have a 0.4% chance of getting the first pick. That’s pretty low. I have not started my draft research but I’m sure Greg Zumach has. I am sure to be talking about the draft on a weekly basis this off-season starting in the new year. 

Fun Fact of the Week

Frank Hernandez, who just converted to catcher, has been doing  so for Spain this winter.

Jam of the Week

Some days I just like a nice relaxing song. Today is one of those. So, I am going back to my high school and the fall of 1981.