Moises Ballesteros – Picture by Todd Johnson

Driving to work this morning, I was looking forward to Baseball America dropping their top Cubs prospect list for 2024. I didn’t expect to see a whole lot of new names, but I wonder just exactly how those names would be arranged. I was not disappointed as the order took me a little bit by surprise.

My mind was pretty made up for how this was going to go. I was expecting to see Pete Crow-Armstrong at number one followed closely by Cade Horton at number two. After that, all bets were off in terms of who was three, four, and five. I expected to see Kevin Alcantara, Owen Caissie, and Matt Shaw in some order. Then they would be followed by Moises Ballesteros, Jefferson Rojas, Ben Brown, and possibly Jackson Ferris, Jordan, Wicks, and maybe James Triantos. I thought that maybe Canario or Michael Arias could sneak in there as well as that third tier of players does not have that big of a gap. 

1. Pete Crow Armstrong.

2.. Cade Horton

3. Matt Shaw

4. Owen Caissie

5. Moises Ballesteros

6. Jordan Wicks

7. Kevin Alcantara

8. Ben Brown

9. Jefferson Rojas

10. Jackson Ferris

The big surprise here is the placement of Alcantara at 7 and Ballesteros at 5. I am a little bit stunned, but not totally surprised. Well, I take that back. I am surprised he is at 7. I found their desription of him filled with some contradictions.

“[…] he struggles to keep his long limbs in sync and is prone to chasing breaking balls out of the zone. He falls into extended slumps where his timing and swing mechanics get out of whack and his swing decisions regress. He’s extremely streaky and projects to be a fringy hitter who relies on getting to his power during hot stretches. Alcantara takes time to get up to full speed, but he’s an above-average runner underway and covers plenty of ground in center field with his long strides.” 

Whhoever wrote that obviously did not see him in person the second half of 2023 making adjustments. Not everyone is going to be a supertsar prospect at every level all the time. Alcantara is a freak athlete who should be in the top 3 prospects in the system.

As for Ballesteros, it is clear his hit tool is carrying him to the higher realms of the prospect list and deservedly so. I expected to see him in the top 10 but more in the 6 or 7 range.

The rest of the list is pretty standard fare for most. Jordan Wicks might be a little high for me, but it is hard to quibble with that based on his success in his short stint in Chicago. While Arias and Canario did not make the top 10, that is not a shocker as the Cubs’ system is extremely deep.

As I get ready to construct my top prospect list for either the end of November or early December, I am beginning to question just exactly where I have some players in my first iteration of my list on Google docs.  What gives me pause is we’re starting to see a whole new collection of young talented guys rising up into the upper echelons of prospect lists. We’re starting to see guys that were taken in 2018 and 2019 start fade and most of the players acquired in 2021 and 2022 take over. That’s probably a natural organic thing depending upon who can make it to Chicago quickly and who can’t.

Being that this is the first prospect list of the winter, it’s only a trend of one. Usually, Baseball America’s pretty conservative as it tends to favor prospects who played in the higher levels of the system. This holds true today and I am interested to see what other lists have along with their order and if they have any surprises that they will sneak in their top 10 lists.

There will be a chat on Baseball America later this afternoon about the list and it’ll be interesting to see some of the questions Cubs fans have for Baseball America at that point.

They also posted their best tools and future lineup and rotation for 2027 that are worth getting a sneak peek here.