Cubs Prospect Focus: Moises Ballesteros
Photo courtesy: MLB Pipeline

Cubs Prospect Focus: Moises Ballesteros

by - Senior Writer -

Now that we have passed the halfway point in the Cubs top 30 prospect list, we are getting to the point where you can start talking about the potential future pieces of this team. While most of the top 15 are centered around pitching, which is a good thing, there are still some position players to keep an eye on.

One of those position players falls at No. 15, where Moises Ballesteros checks in. Signed as an International Free Agent in 2021, Ballesteros came out of nowhere last season and has now asserted himself as a legitimate prospect. Not only that, but he has passed Miguel Amaya as the organization's top catcher, which is telling after just one season.

Finding international catching talent has always been a success for the Cubs as they have cornered that market for years. However, developing some of those young catching prospects has been an issue, and the Cubs are hoping Ballesteros will continue to make the strikes he made last season. At 5-10 and 195 pounds, Ballesteros is pretty good size and is still 19 years old. That means he will only get bigger and stronger as he matures, as he could turn into a Kyle Schwarber type of player in body size.

Ballesteros got a taste of professional ball in 2021 when he played in the Dominican Summer League. Despite being 17 years old when the season started, Ballesteros held his own and batted .266 in 48 games while adding three homers and driving in 25. He also took 31 walks to just 25 strikeouts as he demonstrated excellent plate discipline at a young age.

Expecting to land in rookie ball again last season, the Cubs sent him to Mesa for a short time, where he continued to impress and thus finished the season with Low-A Myrtle Beach. In 63 games this season, Ballesteros continued to show flashes and finished the season hitting .257. To go with that, he added 10 homers to go with 33 RBIs as he continued showing the raw power he displayed while an International Product. His plate discipline was also excellent, with 31 walks to 47 strikeouts as that continues to be a massive part of his game.

Ballesteros is a Venezuelan-born catcher and received the second-highest bonus for international catching products in 2021 at 1.2 million. That was also the second largest payday for the Cubs international pickups that offseason, only behind Cristian Hernandez. You are immediately drawn to his offensive ability when you watch him on film, as he is an offensive-minded player first. Ballesteros does have the ability to develop behind the dish, but that is not something he specializes in right now.

For an organization lacking left-handed hitters, Ballesteros has a chance to be one of those left-handed power hitters as he has one of those smooth left-handed swings that you love. Not only does he hit the ball well, but he has a very advanced feel for the strike zone, which is hard to believe at such a young age.

Ballesteros has already shown his power upside, but given his body type and his projectability, Ballesteros is a guy who has 15-20 homer potential and could even be a 25-homer guy when all is said and done. Being such a young player comes with some flaws; one of those flaws is when he becomes too pull-happy as a hitter. That is not surprising, given his age, but that is something he will need to work on as he matures.

Granted, his defensive skills could be better now, but he keeps the running game in check with an above-average arm that is plenty accurate. His below-average pop time is not ideal, but he makes up for that with a quick release which is why his caught stealing numbers sit in the 33-35% range.

Ballesteros has the soft hands to become a good receiver but must improve at blocking balls. A well below-average runner with a thick frame, he'll have to watch his conditioning. If all else fails, Ballesteros could be moved to a permanent DH, as his bat has the potential to carry him most of his career.

Given how fast he emerged in the Cubs system, the pressure will start to mound as he may be viewed as the future backstop ahead of Amaya. That means he will have to show last season wasn't a fluke. This is one of those players who will be fun to watch this season as Cubs fans are waiting for their next catcher to climb the ladder.

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