The 2023 Minor League season was one for the books. Now it’s time to hand out some hardware.
Tune in at 8 p.m. ET on Oct. 2 as MLB Network showcases the best of what Minor League Baseball has to offer with the inaugural MiLB Awards Show. The first-of-its-kind hour-long telecast will present fans with a variety of categories, spotlighting MLB's stars of tomorrow and the best of the best from the 2023 MiLB season.
Along the way, the MiLB Awards show will highlight the most exciting players, plays and non-plays (hot dogs, anyone?) of the 2023 MiLB season. Let’s take a closer look at the categories and who's in line to earn some hardware.
Minor League Hitting Prospect of the Year
Finalists: Michael Busch, 3B/2B, Dodgers (MLB No. 44), Junior Caminero, 3B/SS, Rays (MLB No. 6), Jackson Holliday, OF, Orioles (MLB No. 1)
The game’s top overall prospect, the youngest player in the Majors right now and a decorated prospect from one of the sport’s top organizations square off in one of the toughest and most prestigious categories. Will it be Holliday, the 2022 No. 1 overall pick who jumped four levels as a 19-year-old this year? Will it be Caminero, who, over the course of the year, went all the way from High-A to the Tampa Bay Rays roster for the playoff push? Or Busch, who ranked second among qualified MiLB players in OPS and slugging? More »
Minor League Pitching Prospect of the Year
Finalists: Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs (MLB No. 29), Robby Snelling, LHP, Padres (MLB No. 60), Drew Thorpe, RHP, Yankees (MLB No. 100)
What’s your poison when it comes to pitching prospects? Do you like fireballing righties with wipeout stuff, teenage southpaws with minuscule ERAs or durable horses racing their way toward pinstripes? This category has it all, meant to crown the most dominant arm in the Minors in 2023. More »
Some of the Minor Leagues’ biggest names and top performers will earn the prestigious honor of All-MiLB Prospect. First and second teams will be selected, consisting of one player from each position, plus a right-handed starter, a left-handed starter and a relief pitcher.
Breakout Player of the Year
Finalists: Junior Caminero, Cade Horton, Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers (MLB No. 36)
This is a player who went from outside the preseason Top 100 list to prospect prominence over the course of the year. Horton and Misiorowski quelled injury concerns and enjoyed dominant first full professional seasons, and Caminero went from little-known infielder to a player the playoff-bound Rays yanked from Double-A to the big leagues for the stretch run.
Minor League Debut of the Year
Finalists: Ethan Salas, C, Padres (MLB No. 5), Robby Snelling, Drew Thorpe
This is the player who debuted with the biggest bang in 2023. Salas, who incredibly ascended to Double-A at barely 17 years of age, is the game’s No. 5 overall prospect. His organization mate, Snelling, is the sport’s third-ranked left-handed pitching prospect and is just 19 himself. And Thorpe is the second-ranked pitching prospect in a Yankees system loaded with arms.
Best Single-Game Performance
Finalists: Colt Keith, Tigers, 3B/2B, (MLB No. 25), Luis Mieses, OF, White Sox, Fernando Tatis Jr., OF, Padres
Keith, the Tigers’ No. 2 prospect, had a game for the ages for Double-A Erie on May 16, homering twice as he hit for the cycle and went 6-for-6 with seven RBIs. How crazy is that? No player in MLB history has ever hit for the cycle with six hits and two homers. On June 28, White Sox prospect Luis Mieses went 6-for-6 with three homers for Double-A Birmingham. And on April 13, Tatis drove in eight runs in a three-homer game for Triple-A El Paso as he prepared for his season debut with the Padres.
Defensive Play of the Year
Finalists: Druw Jones, OF, D-backs (MLB No. 33), DaShawn Keirsey Jr., OF, Twins, Monte Harrison, OF, Marlins
Harrison timed his jump perfectly to scale a wall and rob a home run for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. Jones made the impossible look easy for Single-A Visalia and Keirsey, a Twins farmhand, flew high for the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. Which amazing play topped them all?
Defensive Player of the Year
Finalists: Pete-Crow Armstrong, OF, Cubs (MLB No. 12), Nasim Nuñez, SS/2B, (Marlins No. 17), Ceddanne Rafaela, OF, Red Sox (MLB No. 72)
Each of these elite glovesmen were featured on MLB Pipeline’s preseason all-defensive prospect team, and all lived up to the billing in ‘23. After another dominant Minor League season with the glove, Crow-Armstrong is already showing Cubs fans proof of his special defense in the outfield. Nuñez, the Marlins’ No. 17 prospect, has the range, instincts and actions at shortstops to warrant a 70-grade defensively, and he slashed his error total considerably this year in a full season at Double-A. Rafaela is Boston’s two-time reigning organizational Defensive Player of the Year, capable of playing plus defense all over the diamond and has the makings of a future Gold Glover in center.
Team of the Year
Finalists: Norfolk Tides (Orioles, Triple-A), Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers, Triple-A), Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins, High-A)
A ton of talent from the Orioles’ top-rated system showed up in Norfolk this year, where the Tides boasted the most talented lineup in the Minors, won 90 games and clinched their first playoff berth since 2015. Oklahoma City similarly dominated the Pacific Coast League (90-58) and earned a berth to the league's Championship Series. High-A Cedar Rapids went wall-to-wall, posting the highest winning percentage in the Minors (.621) en route to winning the Midwest League's West division in the first and second halves and sweeping the Championship Series.
Best Alternate Identity
Finalists: Amarillo Calf Fries, Eugene Exploding Whales, Hartford Bouncing Pickles, Hickory Dickory Docks, Hoosier State Tenderloins, Hudson Valley Cider Donuts, Norfolk Lumpia, Springfield Cashew Chickens
Minor League teams love to mix things up, and in ‘23, played under adopted identities to complement their everyday name and look. Often these reflected something unique about the local market. Sometimes they were just wacky. And all of them were just plain fun. Still, eight stood out above the rest, the winner of which will be determined by a fan vote that runs through Friday.
Home Runs of the Year
What sets one home run apart from the rest? Jo Adell’s moonshot on June 20 for Triple-A Salt Lake went 514 feet. Cubs top prospect Crow-Armstrong’s April 26 grand slam capped a 16-pitch at-bat. Cardinals first baseman Luken Baker’s May 27 blast traveled 412 feet -- with a broken bat. Those longballs will be among MiLB's best of 2023 that will be featured on Monday's show.