Another incredible Minor League season is in the books, one that was full of amazing performances across all levels. On Monday, those accomplishments were honored, from Hitting and Pitching Prospect of the Year Awards to best home run and defensive play.
As has been the custom every year there’s been a Minor League season since 2015, it’s time to honor many of those performances with the Prospect Team of the Year.
Prospects were chosen for this list based solely on their Minor League performance in 2023. To be eligible for the Prospect Team of the Year, players must have spent at least half of the season in the Minors and made our organization Top 30 Prospects rankings at some point. (All stats are cumulative Minor League year-end totals.)
The Orioles are tied with the Cubs with three representatives across the first and second teams, though Baltimore has two on the first squad, joining the Cardinals as the only organization with multiple first-team nods.
C: Samuel Basallo (BAL No. 5, MLB No. 46)
A/A+/AA: .313/.402/.551, 114 G, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 75 R, 61 BB, 94 K, 12 SB, 162 wRC+
Another teenaged phenom in the Orioles system. Basallo made his full-season debut with Single-A Delmarva this year and ended it, age 19, in Double-A. His 162 wRC+ was third among all Minor Leaguers with 400 or more plate appearances this season, and he was 10th with his .953 OPS.
1B: Luken Baker (STL Top 30 graduate)
AAA: .334/.440/.720, 84 G, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 71 R, 59 BB, 76 K, 180 wRC+
Baker played his final Minor League game of the season on Aug. 11 and still managed to finish tied fourth in the Minors with 33 homers. His .720 slugging percentage, 1.159 OPS, .385 isolated slugging percentage and 180 wRC+ were all tops among Minor Leaguers with at least 350 plate appearances as 55 of his 105 hits went for extra bases for Memphis.
2B: Thomas Saggese (STL No. 9)
AA/AAA: .306/.374/.530, 139 G, 26 HR, 111 RBI, 101 R, 52 BB, 144 K, 12 SB, 133 wRC+
Acquired from the Rangers at the Trade Deadline, the 21-year-old infielder dominated the Texas League with both Frisco and Springfield, finishing as the Double-A circuit’s leader in average (.318), OPS (.936), hits (158), extra-base hits (60), total bases (274) and RBIs (107) over 126 games. Including his time at Triple-A Memphis, he also led all Minor Leaguers with 170 hits and 294 total bases, 10 more than second-place Coby Mayo.
3B: Junior Caminero (TB No. 1, MLB No. 6)
A+/AA: .324/.384/.591, 117 G, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 85 R, 42 BB, 100 K, 5 SB, 156 wRC+
Caminero entered his age-19 season with only 27 games of full-season experience and ended it on Tampa Bay’s Major League roster. In between, he was the youngest member of the Minor League 30-homer club with 31 blasts between Bowling Green and Montgomery, and he posted a .591 slugging percentage and 156 wRC+ that ranked fifth and 10th among full-season qualifiers. The Rays’ top prospect pushed those numbers up by hitting .336/.400/.685 with 15 homers in 37 games from Aug. 1 onward in the Southern League.
SS: Jackson Holliday (BAL No. 1, MLB No. 1)
A/A+/AA/AAA: .323/.442/.499, 125 G, 12 HR, 75 RBI, 113 R, 101 BB, 118 K, 24 SB, 159 wRC+
It’s hard to draw up a better first full season for a No. 1 overall pick, isn’t it? All Holliday did was race across four levels, finishing in Triple-A. He topped the Minors in runs scored, walked over 100 times and finished fifth among hitters with 400 or more plate appearances in both OBP and wRC+, all at age 19.
OF: Blake Dunn (CIN No. 22)
A+/AA: .312/.425/.522, 124 G, 23 HR, 79 RBI, 107 R, 62 BB, 130 K, 54 SB, 158 wRC+
Injuries kept Dunn off the field for much of his first full season in 2022, but he more than made up for it this past season. He was one of three players in all of the Minors to surpass the 20 homer-50-steal plateau and turned it up a notch once he got to Double-A, posting a .989 OPS in 77 games at the level.
OF: Justice Bigbie (DET No. 21)
A+/AA/AAA: .343/.405/.537, 115 G, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 81 R, 42 BB, 77 K, 6 SB, 157 wRC+
There were 707 qualified full-season Minor Leaguers in 2023. Only one hit above .340 and slugged above .500. That was, of course, Bigbie. The bulk of his season came at Double-A Erie, where he was also at his best with a .362/.421/.564 line with 12 homers and only a 12.5 percent K rate across 63 games. Bigbie could follow in Kerry Carpenter’s footsteps by using a breakout Minor League season as a springboard to Major League contributions in Detroit.
OF: Owen Caissie (CHC No. 3, MLB No. 64)
AA: .289/.398/.519, 120 G, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 77 R, 76 BB, 164 K, 7 SB, 144 wRC+
Arguably the best power-hitting prospect in the Minors, Caissie produces exceptional exit velocities for a 20-year-old. Though he was the sixth-youngest regular in the Double-A Southern League, he ranked in the top five in 12 significant offensive categories, including third in on-base percentage (.398), slugging (.519) and OPS (.917), fourth in homers (22) and fifth in batting (.289).
DH: Michael Busch (LAD No. 2, MLB No. 44)
AAA: .323/.431/.618, 98 G, 27 HR, 90 RBI, 85 R, 65 BB, 88 K, 4 SB, 150 wRC+
After posting one of the most impressive stat lines in the Minors in 2022, Busch did so again this year, ranking second in slugging (.618) and OPS (1.049) and eighth in OBP (.431). He topped the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in slugging and OPS while finishing second in the batting race at .323.
LHP: Robby Snelling (SD No. 3, MLB No. 60)
A/A+/AA: 11-3, 1.82 ERA, 103 2/3 IP, 118 K, 34 BB, .216 BAA, 1.12 WHIP
Snelling’s numbers, on their own, were stellar. The Padres southpaw led Minor League pitchers (min. 100 IP) with a 1.82 ERA and was the only member of that group of 272 with a mark below 2.00. He averaged at least one strikeout per inning across three different levels and didn’t post an ERA above 2.34 at any of those stops either. The sweetener -- the 2022 39th overall pick accomplished all of this in his age-19 season and now already sits only two stops away from San Diego.
RHP: Drew Thorpe (NYY No. 5, MLB No. 99)
A+/AA: 14-2, 2.52 ERA, 139 1/3 IP, 182 K, 38 BB, .200 BAA, 0.98 WHIP
A consensus All-American at Cal Poly in 2022 after ranking second in NCAA Division I with a school-record 149 strikeouts, Thorpe won the Minor League K crown with 182 in 139 1/3 innings during his pro debut this summer. He also ranked first in strikeout minus walk percentage (26.9) and second in wins (14), winning percentage (.875), WHIP (0.98) and strikeout percentage (34.0). He also came within a strikeout of winning the High-A South Atlantic League pitching triple crown despite getting promoted to Double-A in early August.
RP: Orion Kerkering (PHI No. 7)
A/A+/AA/AAA: 4-1, 14 SV, 1.51 ERA, 53 2/3 IP, 79 K, 12 BB, .186 BAA, 0.89 WHIP
Kerkering began the year with Single-A Clearwater, and it’s looking like he’s going to finish it on the big league postseason roster. His ability to pound the zone (2.0 BB/9) with his fastball and slider allowed him to strike out 13.2 per nine in the Minors this year, and he has the third best K-BB percentage (32.2) of any pitcher in the Minor Leagues with 50 or more innings.
C: Thayron Liranzo (LAD No. 18)
A: .273/.400/.562, 94 G, 24 HR, 70 RBI, 81 R, 70 BB, 112 K, 2 SB, 155 wRC+
Adding to the Dodgers’ stockpile of catching, Liranzo broke out by leading the Single-A California League in homers (24), slugging (.562), OPS (.962, eighth in the Minors), extra-base hits (50) and total bases (194) while making his full-season debut at age 19.
1B: Troy Johnston (MIA No. 22)
AA/AAA: .307/.399/.549, 134 G, 26 HR, 116 RBI, 102 R, 62 BB, 108 K, 24 SB, 145 wRC+
A rare 20-20 first baseman, Johnston led the Minors with 116 RBIs and placed fourth in extra-base hits (67) and total bases (281). He also topped the Double-A Southern League in slugging (.567) and OPS (.963).
2B: Xavier Edwards (MIA Top 30 graduate)
AAA: .351/.429/.457, 93 G, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 80 R, 52 BB, 30 K, 32 SB, 130 wRC+
Edwards bounced back from the worst season of his pro career in 2022 to lead the Triple-A International League and finish second in the Minors with a .351 batting average, and he also recaptured some of the speed he lost a year ago.
3B: Coby Mayo (BAL No. 4, MLB No. 27)
AA/AAA: .290/.410/.564, 140 G, 29 HR, 99 RBI, 84 R, 93 BB, 148 K, 5 SB, 156 wRC+
Mayo’s ability to draw walks (15.1 percent walk rate) and see pitches (he saw the second most amount of pitches among all Minor League hitters) allowed him to really tap into his power.
SS: Jett Williams (NYM No. 3, MLB No. 78)
A/A+/AA: .263/.425/.451, 121 G, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 81 R, 104 BB, 118 K, 45 SB, 145 wRC+
The 2022 first-rounder showed an approach well beyond his years, finishing second in the Minors with 104 walks and among the top 25 in OBP (.425) and wRC+ (145) across three levels in his first full season.
OF: Justyn-Henry Malloy (DET No. 9)
AAA: .277/.417/.474, 135 G, 23 HR, 83 RBI , 89 R, 110 BB, 152 K, 5 SB, 130 wRC+
Malloy led all Minor Leaguers with 110 free passes and 2,654 pitches seen and tied for 11th among Triple-A qualifiers with a 130 wRC+.
OF: Pete Crow-Armstrong (CHC No. 1, MLB No. 12)
AA/AAA: .283/.365/.511, 107 G, 20 HR, 82 RBI, 98 R, 46 BB, 129 K, 37 SB, 127 wRC+
Widely considered the best defensive prospect in the Minors, Crow-Armstrong also has considerable offensive upside and showed it off with 20 homers and 37 steals between Double-A and Triple-A at age 21.
OF: Jackson Chourio (MIL No. 1, MLB No. 2)
AA/AAA: .283/.338/.467, 128 G, 22 HR, 91 RBI, 88 R, 43 BB, 104 K, 44 SB, 112 wRC+
Having finished with 22 homers and 44 steals, Chourio was just the fifth teenager since 1958 to achieve a 20/40 season in the Minors, joining Ronald Acuña Jr. (2017), Álex Escobar (1998), Andruw Jones (1995) and José Cardenal (1961) in that group.
DH: Abimelec Ortiz (TEX No. 14)
A/A+: .294/.371/.619, 109 G, 33 HR, 101 RBI, 78 R, 49 BB, 126 K, 1 SB, 160 wRC+
Ortiz didn’t do much in his first two pro seasons after signing as a nondrafted free agent out of Florida Southwestern State JC in 2021, then exploded to lead the Minors in slugging (.619) while placing fourth in homers in (33) and OPS (.990). He paced the High-A South Atlantic League with 26 homers in just 80 games.
LHP: Anthony Solometo (PIT No. 4, MLB No. 84)
A+/AA: 4-7, 3.26 ERA, 110 1/3 IP, 118 K, 39 BB, .227 BAA, 1.19 WHIP
The funky lefty dominated High-A and spent the second half in Double-A, all at age 20, putting him on a faster track to Pittsburgh.
RHP: Cade Horton (CHC No. 2, MLB No. 29)
A/A+/AA: 4-4, 2.65 ERA, 88 1/3 IP, 117 K, 27 BB, .191 BAA, 1.00 WHIP
The Cubs kept their 2022 first-rounder on a short leash in his pro debut, but among Minor League pitchers with 80 or more innings, he ranked fourth in strikeout minus walk percentage (25.8), fifth in WHIP (1.00) and 10th in strikeout percentage (33.5).
RP: Danny Watson (NYY No. 29)
A+/AA: 7-1, 5 SV, 1.58 ERA, 62 2/3 IP, 82 K, 25 BB, .138 BAA, 0.88 WHIP
Extremely deceptive as a 6-foot-7 sidearmer with an upright delivery, Watson posted the best ERA (1.58) among all Minor Leaguers with 60 innings while ranking third in opponent average (.138) and WHIP (0.88).