Format = Position Player | Age on 4/1/2024 | Highest Level Played | Estimated Time of Arrival
1. RHP Cade Horton | 22 | AA | 2024
Horton heard his name during the seventh overall pick in the 2022 Rule 4 draft, and he’s been making noise ever since. In 21 games across three levels this season, he pitched 88.1 innings and recorded 117 strikeouts with a 1.00 WHIP and a 2.65 ERA. Word around the north side is that they’ll be extremely active in free agency, and it’s hard to disagree after seeing the cash they’re shelling out for new manager Craig Counsell, but I hope they only block Horton for legitimate rotation options. I think he could win a spot out of spring training if they’d let him.
2. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong | 22 | MLB | 2023
PCA had posted a 106 wRC+ through 34 Triple-A games when he got promoted to his first major league opportunity. He was striking out in 29.7 percent of his plate appearances. His 136 wRC+ with 14 home runs and 27 steals through 73 Double-A games came with a 24 percent strikeout rate, and I suspect that will be the sweet spot for Crow-Armstrong’s early career. If he can keep the K-rate under 25 percent, we’ll want him in our fantasy lineups for his blend of speed, power and playing time. In 120 games across three levels, PCA hit 20 home runs and stole 39 bases.
3. SS Matt Shaw | 22 | AA | 2024
Now they just need a guy named Hobbs. Even without one, Shaw looks like a first-round hit as a steady college bat who can play around the infield. He hit eight home runs and stole 15 bases in 38 games across three levels, slashing .357/.400/.618 with just 25 strikeouts. That’s loud, but it’s pretty much the same sound he made for 62 games at Maryland (.341/.445/.697) and for 36 games in the Cape Cod League (.360/.432/.574). Water is still finding its level here.
4. OF Kevin Alcantara | 21 | AA | 2024
Played 95 games with High-A South Bend, slashing .286/.341/.466 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases then continued to produce in Double-A and the fall league, where he’s tied for third in the league with five home runs. At 6’6” with plus power and speed, the possibility of him actualizing in his early twenties is enticing. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him get traded. If Crow-Armstrong looks like a long-term solution and the club re-signs Cody Bellinger, that’s the outfield as long as they have Seiya Suzuki.
5. OF Owen Caissie | 21 | AA | 2024
Big power from the left side at 6’3” 200+ lbs, Caissie got caught stealing nine times in 16 attempts but slashed .289/.399/.519 with 22 home runs despite 164 strikeouts (31.1%) in 120 Double-A games. Plenty of talent, but Caissie will always have some wandering-Renfroe risk.
6. LHP Jordan Wicks | 24 | MLB | 2023
An unorthodox marksman with a slow heartbeat, Jordan Wicks is penciled into the rotation now that Marcus Stroman has opted out of his contract. Even if they sign a starter or two, Wicks should get his fair share of shots in 2024. His stuff isn’t dominant, but a plus changeup and balanced repertoire give him a Jordan Montgomery type upside.
7. 2B James Triantos | 21 | AA | 2024
Chicago planted The Giving Triantos in the second round of 2021 and has enjoyed watching him grow. He’s always been ahead of the age-to-level curve, and this fall, he’s achieving full bloom on that fast track, hitting .425 with a .500 on base percentage, both good for second in the AFL. You might have noticed that these ETA pretty much all say 2024, and you’d be right to suspect Triantos might have trouble fitting into the club’s actual plans on the field, but that’s only if he never manages to manifest his average raw power in games. Once that happens, Triantos would be an All-Star level bat.
8. SS Jefferson Rojas | 18 | A | 2026
This season could be anything insofar as Rojas is concerned. It’s totally within reason that he enters 2025 as a Top 25 prospect in baseball. It’s also possible that he gets promoted above his physical competency and has a correction campaign after posting a 115 wRC+ and 19.9 percent strikeout rate against much older players.
9. OF Alexander Canario | 23 | MLB | 2023
Speaking of the wandering-Refroe type, Alexander Canario brings double-plus power and functional defense, but the fringy hit tool and corner-defender fate limit his topside.
10. C Moises Ballesteros | 20 | AA | 2025
An Alejandro Kirk type at 5’7” 215 lbs, Ballesteros turns 20 years old today. Happy birthday, Moises! I almost did a summer study about William Faulkner when I was in grad school, but then I read Go Down, Moses and thought oh yeah, this is why I prefer short stories. Ballesteros burned through three levels in 2023, slashing .285/.374/.449 with 14 home runs and seven steals in 117 games, ending up as a 19-year-old playing five games in Double-A. The Kirk path is a nice blueprint in the sense that he might take the league by surprise early on but will have to adapt his game across time to stay relevant to a contender’s every day lineup.
Thanks for reading!