Play on the field during the 2016 season was the driving force behind these sixteen selections. I also threw in 17 worthy of honorable mention. NSR will start its season recaps so you can catch up with all eight affiliates and the progress made by the Cubs prospects.
So here’s the NSR 2016 All-Star roster:
Acquired from the Braves in the summer of 2014, the switch-hitting backstop was third in the Southern League with a .375 OBP and was sixth in the circuit with a .291 average. A mid-season and post-season all star, the 23-year-old Puerto Rican native hit six homers, ripped 25 doubles and knocked in 47 runs over 115 games for Tennessee. Caratini is considered the Cubs top catching prospect and will play in the Arizona Fall League
First Base— Yasiel Balaguert
The 23-year-old set a Myrtle Beach franchise record with 96 RBI and led all Cubs minor leaguers with 19 homers. His best of five seasons with the Cubs, Balaguert hit .263/.316/.424 in 135 games with 226 total bases and 25 doubles. The Cuban native played a solid defensive first base and showed some ability to hit the ball the other way.
Second Base—Chesny Young
After winning the Carolina League batting title last year, Young was the runner-up for the hitting crown in the Southern League (.303). A mid-season and post-season SL all-star, Young started the year at second and moved over to third with the arrival of Ian Happ. The 23-year-old sported an OBP of .376 in 126 games and set career-highs with four homers and 25 doubles. He led all Cubs minor leaguers with 149 hits.
Named an Arizona League post-season All-Star in his first pro season, the 17-year-old Mexico native showed why the Cubs shelled out a reported $800,000 to sign the infielder. In 47 games in Mesa, Paredes hit .305/.359/.443 with a homer, 14 doubles and 26 RBI. He was promoted to South Bend for the last three games of the regular season (2-for-12) and appeared in three playoff games (1-for-11).
Third base—Jeimer Candelario
After turning his career around in 2015, the Dominican Republic native started his season in Tennessee and by July 3 was making his MLB debut in New York (1-for-4, 3 K). His stint in Chicago only lasted until July 7 (1-for-11) and it was back to Iowa for the rest of the season. In 76 games for the I-Cubs, the 22-year-old batted .333/.417/.542 with nine homers and 54 RBI.
Utility Player—David Bote
A career season for the Cubs 2012 18th round pick, ending with a Carolina League championship celebration and the Mills Cup MVP trophy. Bote season started with three weeks in Myrtle Beach but was promoted to Iowa and spent a week in Tennessee before returning to the Pelicans. He batted .337/.410/.518 with six homers and 41 RBI in 72 games in High A and then hit .577/.667/.769 with nine RBI in seven playoff games.
Left Fielder—Eloy Jimenez
The Cubs Minor League Player of the Year, the MWL MVP and Prospect of the Year are just some of the awards Jimenez garnished in his first year at a full-season affiliate. The 19-year-old hit .329/.369/.532 in 112 games for South Bend with 40 doubles, 14 homers and 81 RBI. Add in a MWL All-Star MVP, a strong showing in the Futures Game, and a Mills Cup title run with Myrtle Beach to close out the year.
Center Fielder—Albert Almora
Not only did Almora made his MLB debut in 2016, he batted .303/.317/.416 for AAA Iowa and was among the leaders in the PCL in hits before being promoted to Chicago in June. In 39 games with the North Siders, Almora is hitting .271/.293/.438 with three homers and 13 RBI.
Right Fielder—Eddy Martinez
In his first pro season, the 21-year-old batted .254/.331/.380 with 10 homers, 67 RBI, 72 runs and eight stolen bases. He played a solid right field and displayed a strong arm, throwing two runners out at home in the same inning. Signed for a reported $3 million out of Cuba last October, Martinez was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month for July after hitting .362/.446/.564.
Outfielder— Donnie Dewees
The Cubs second-round pick in 2015 impressed in the Midwest League and then helped the Pelicans to the Carolina League title. In 94 games at South Bend, the 22-year-old hit .282/.337/.414 with 12 triples, 54 RBI, 65 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. He was promoted to Myrtle Beach in late July and batted .289/.339/.423 over the final 35 games and went 14-for-14 in stolen bases. Wasn’t too shabby in seven playoff games with a slash line of .423/.500/.462
Starting Pitcher— Trevor Clifton
The Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year and tabbed the Carolina League’s top arm, the right-hander established himself as one of the top prospects in the Cubs system. In 23 starts for the Pelicans, the 21-year-old went 7-7 with a 2.72 ERA and 129 K in 119 IP. Selected as a mid-season and post-season all-star, Clifton was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month twice and led the Cubs full-season affiliates with a .225 BAA.
Starting Pitcher—Zach Hedges
The Cubs 26th round pick in 2014 may have challenged Clifton for top pitching honors in the Carolina League but the 23-year-old was promoted to Tennessee in late July. In 16 starts for the Pelicans, Hedges went 7-8 with a 2.89 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP and a .243 BAA. The right-hander was just an effective in eight AA starts—2-2, 2.47 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .249 BAA.
Starting Pitcher—Dylan Cease
The Cubs sixth round pick in 2014 finished the season strong and helped Eugene to the best winning percentage in all the minors as well as a Northwest League title. The hard-throwing right-hander made 12 starts despite missing three weeks with a cramp in his right forearm. The 20-year-old went 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA and fanned 66 in 44.2 innings while holding opponents to a .175 BAA. He was named to the NWL post-season all-star team and earned player of the week honors after fanning 16 and allowed three hits in two starts ( 9 IP).
Starting Pitcher—Manuel Rondon
Acquired last summer in a trade with the Angels for C Rafael Lopez, the 21-year-old left-hander was named the Northwest League’s Pitcher of the Year after going 6-1 with a 1.10 ERA in 12 starts for Eugene. The Venezuelan native fanned 49 in 57.1 innings and sported a .233 BAA and a 1.26 WHIP. In the final playoff game against Everett, Rondon allowed a run over five innings and got the win in the Ems Game 3 clincher.
Starting Pitcher—Preston Morrison
While making just 16 starts in South Bend, Morrison was impressive enough to earn MWL post-season all-star team honors after posting a 9-4 mark with a 2.24 ERA. In 92.1 innings, the right-hander fanned 85 and sported a 1.17 WHIP and a .241 BAA. The Cubs eighth-round pick out of TCU in 2015 was promoted to Myrtle Beach in late July, going 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in six starts.
Relief Pitcher—Ryan McNeil
The Cubs fourth-round pick in 2012, the 22-year-old has overcome Tommy John surgery and had his best season in the Cubs organization. Starting the year as one of the Pelicans set-up men, McNeil earned his first save on May 24 and by July 13 was the Carolina League leader, converting all 13 opportunities, including a stretch of 10 straight appearances with a save. In 44 games, the right-hander collected 22 saves in 24 chances and went 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA. McNeil logged 54 innings and recorded 61 punchouts while walking 21.
C—P.J. Higgins, South Bend (.283/.389/.355, 121 G, 0 HR, 40 RBI, 72 BB)
C—Tyler Alamo, South Bend (.243/.283/.330, 85 G, 5 HR, 50 RBI)
C/DH—Gustavo Polanco, Mesa (.322/.351/.390, 46 G, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 27 R)
1B—Matt Rose, South Bend/Eugene (.236/.323/.426, 101 G, 17 HR, 59 RBI, 50 R)
2B—Ian Happ, Myrtle Beach/Tennessee (.279/.365/.445, 134 G, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 72 R, 16 SB)
2B—Carlos Sepulveda, South Bend (.310/.366/.373, 80 G, 1 HR, 55 R)
3B— Wladimir Galindo, Eugene (.243/.337/.462, 66 G, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 19 2B, 46 R)
DH/C—Ian Rice, South Bend/Myrtle Beach (.265/.380/.461, 97 G, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 21 2B, 62 BB)
OF—Charcer Burks, Myrtle Beach (.247/.356/.407, 124 G, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 71 R, 28 2B, 23 SB)
OF—John Andreoli, Iowa (.256/.374/.396, 140 G, 12 HR, 61 RBI, 96 R, 43 SB, 94 BB)
OF—Mark Zagunis, Tennessee/Iowa (.288/.384/.469, 101 G, 10 HR, 49 RBI, 52 BB, 61 R)
SP—Ryan Kellogg, South Bend (24 G, 23 GS, 9-7, 3.03 ERA, 130.2 IP, 26 BB, 107 K, .234 BAA, 1.08 WHIP)
SP—Oscar De La Cruz, Mesa/Eugene/South Bend (9 GS, 1-3, 3.00 ERA, 39 IP, 11 BB, 51 K, .210 BAA, 1.05 WHIP)
SP—Jose Paulino, Eugene/South Bend (13 GS, 7-1, 1.92 ERA, 75 IP, 13 BB, 69 K, .199 BAA, 0.91 WHIP)
SP—Faustino Carrera, DSL Cubs 2 (13 GS, 7-2, 1.06 ERA, 76. 1 IP, 19 BB, 55 K, .208 BAA, .97 WHIP)
SP—Hector Garcia, DSL Cubs 2 (13 GS, 5-1, 1.67 ERA, 75.1 IP, 14 BB, 62 K, .202 BAA, 0.92 WHIP)
RP—Wyatt Short, Eugene (15 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7-7 SV, 15 IP, 7 BB, 14 K, .104 BAA, 0.80 WHIP)