Just Baseball’s First Half All-MiLB Team: Who Are the Best Performers in the Minors So Far?

Who were the best prospect performers at each position during the first half of the Minor League Baseball season?

AMARILLO, TEXAS - MAY 03: Deyvison De Los Santos #13 of the Amarillo Sod Poodles hits the ball during the game against the Midland RockHounds at HODGETOWN Stadium on May 03, 2024 in Amarillo, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball has a tried-and-true method of acknowledging the standout performances from the first half of the season: the MLB All-Star Game. While Minor League Baseball used to follow suit, there hasn’t been a level-specific All-Star Game in MiLB since 2019.

Prospects and career minor leaguers alike have enjoyed standout seasons through the first three months, and we figured those players shouldn’t go entirely unnoticed. Here are Just Baseball’s First Half All-MiLB selections.

Catcher: Moises Ballesteros (Chicago Cubs)

1st Half Stats (AA/AAA): 62 G, .307/.372/.509, 12 2B, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 154 wRC+

While Ballesteros won’t turn 21 years old until early November, he has enjoyed as well-rounded of an offensive season as any catcher in Minor League Baseball thus far. After demolishing Double-A pitching in the uber pitcher-friendly Southern League, Ballesteros opened his Triple-A career 5-for-8 with a double and a home run last week with Iowa. Defensive questions aside, Ballesteros has looked the part of a future masher on the North Side.

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Honorable Mentions: Ben Rice (NYY), Agustin Ramirez (NYY), Kyle Teel (BOS), Mickey Gasper (BOS)

First Base: Deyvison De Los Santos (Arizona Diamondbacks)

1st Half Stats (AA/AAA): 68 G, .346/.399/.654, 15 2B, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 172 wRC+

De Los Santos leads all qualified minor leaguers in hits, home runs, and total bases as it stands on June 27. A surprise pick by Cleveland in the Rule V Draft at this past offseason’s Winter Meetings, De Los Santos was returned to Arizona after struggling with the Guardians in Spring Training. With a month of big league competition under his belt, De Los Santos looked as comfortable and confident as he ever has, and it’s resulted in as gaudy of numbers as you’ll find from someone not named Judge or Ohtani. If the MiLB home run leader is also second in Minor League Baseball in batting average at .348, you know he’s doing something right.

Honorable Mentions: Xavier Isaac (TB), Tre’ Morgan (TB), C.J. Kayfus (CLE), Jhonkensy Noel (CLE), Spencer Horwitz (TOR), Tyler Locklear (SEA)

Second Base: Kristian Campbell (Boston Red Sox)

1st Half Stats (A+/AA): 58 G, .343/.448/.606, 19 2B, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 5-7 SB, 189 wRC+

Campbell may very well be the breakout of the 2024 Minor League Baseball season. Taken in the fourth round last year by the Red Sox out of Georgia Tech, Campbell has seen nearly every tool take a leap forward during his first full year of professional baseball. The most obvious tick-up seems to be his game power; his 12 home runs through 58 games already triple the total that he clubbed with the Yellow Jackets in 45 games with a metal bat last year. While names like Mayer, Anthony, Teel, and Yorke headline the crop of upper minors prospects that Craig Breslow has in the fold, Campbell is pushing to join them at Fenway sooner rather than later.

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Honorable Mentions: Michael Arroyo (SEA), Hao-Yu Lee (DET), Coco Montes (FA), Devin Mann (KC), James Triantos (CHC)

Third Base: Charles McAdoo (Pittsburgh Pirates)

1st Half Stats (A+/AA): 63 G, .332/.414/.574, 16 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 14-17 SB, 170 wRC+

Okay, maybe it isn’t Campbell that’s the main breakout of this season; McAdoo has certainly made his case. The 22-year-old McAdoo was Pittsburgh’s 13th round selection last year out of San Jose State, where he was a career .325 hitter with a .968 OPS in the Mountain West. While he has continued showcasing his excellent bat-to-ball skills, the Pirates prospect has made his power and speed blend known to the baseball world. If all goes well for McAdoo to end this season, we may see him knocking on the door of the big leagues as soon as September.

A massive tip of the cap to Baltimore’s Coby Mayo, who would have surely taken this honor home if not for an injury that held him out of roughly a month of game action in Triple-A.

Honorable Mentions: Coby Mayo (BAL), Otto Kemp (PHI), CJ Alexander (KC), Jace Jung (DET), Alex Mooney (CLE), Ben Williamson (SEA)

Shortstop: Carson Williams (Tampa Bay Rays)

1st Half Stats (AA): 56 G, .287/.380/.532, 16 2B, 11 HR, 30 RBI, 19-22 SB, 168 wRC+

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Considering how pitcher-friendly the Southern League has been this year (sporting a .667 league-wide OPS and a Staff ERA of 3.69), Williams’ .912 OPS is even more remarkable than it may be at first glance. On top of being one of the better defensive shortstops in the minor leagues, Just Baseball’s No. 11 overall prospect has done nothing but improve his stock as an all-around talent, and has the makings of a future star in St. Pete.

Honorable Mentions: Jacob Wilson (OAK), Shay Whitcomb (HOU), Brayden Taylor (TB), Aidan Miller (PHI), Marcelo Mayer (BOS), Alex Freeland (LAD)

Outfield: James Wood (Washington Nationals), Chandler Simpson (Tampa Bay Rays), Lazaro Montes (Seattle Mariners)

Wood 1st Half Stats (AAA): 50 G, .352/.464/.588, 13 2B, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 10-11 SB, 173 wRC+

Simpson 1st Half Stats (A+/AA): 57 G, .375/.424/.425, 7 2B, 24 RBI, 53-62 SB, 148 wRC+

Montes 1st Half Stats (A): 66 G, .309/.414/.525, 13 2B, 13 HR, 73 RBI, 2-2 SB, 152 wRC+

It really came down to Lazaro Montes against Baltimore’s Heston Kjerstad for us. Minnesota’s Emmanuel Rodriguez would surely be on this team if he had as large of a sample as the others, but injury has limited Just Baseball’s No. 10 prospect to just 37 games thus far.

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The outfield trio features two players on Just Baseball’s Top 100: the top prospect in all of baseball in Wood, and a top-60 prospect in Montes. Wood’s tweaks have been very well documented, resulting in more bat-to-ball skills than anyone could have dreamt on with a player of his size. With Wood walking as much as anyone and trimming the K-Rate under 20%, it truly feels that the sky is the limit for him. For Montes, the 19-year-old made minced meat of Low-A before getting the promotion to High-A Everett at the mid-season point. Montes had shown prodigious power at both Complex levels, but he has continued to hammer the ball as hard as anyone in the lower levels before he even turns 20.

The third spot belongs to Tampa’s Chandler Simpson, who is following up his 94 stolen bases in 2023 with an even more impressive ’24. Simpson is leading all of Minor League Baseball in batting average as it stands right now, and his .421 on-base percentage has allowed him to run rampant yet again, putting him in position to flirt with 100 stolen bases on the season. If he does reach triple digits, we could very well be talking about Simpson as a top 100 prospect.

Honorable Mentions: Heston Kjerstad (BAL), Emmanuel Rodriguez (MIN), Matthew Lugo (BOS), Griffin Conine (MIA), Johnathan Rodriguez (CLE), Henry Bolte (OAK), Jay Allen II (CIN), Yohendrick Pinango (CHC)

Starting Pitchers: Quinn Mathews (St. Louis Cardinals), Matt Wilkinson (Cleveland Guardians), Brad Lord (Washington Nationals), Zebby Matthews (Minnesota Twins), Noah Schultz (Chicago White Sox), Logan Evans (Seattle Mariners)

Mathews 1st Half Stats (A/A+): 13 GS, 74.1 IP, 2.18 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9

Wilkinson 1st Half Stats (A/A+): 13 GS, 63.1 IP, 1.99 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 14.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9

Lord 1st Half Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 14 GS, 79.2 IP, 9-1, 1.47 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9

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Matthews 1st Half Stats (A+/AA): 11 G (10 GS), 63.1 IP, 1.56 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 0.4 BB/9

Schultz 1st Half Stats (A+/AA): 12 GS, 47.0 IP, 3.06 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 1.5 BB/9

Evans 1st Half Stats (AA): 17 G (10 GS), 59.2 IP, 8-2, 1.36 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.7 BB/9

Six pitchers earn the nod on the All-First Half Team, highlighted by St. Louis’ Quinn Mathews. The Stanford product was known as a pitchability arm, and gained ample notoriety for his 156-pitch outing in the Super Regionals for the Cardinal last summer. However, Mathews’ first impression of Low-A was anything but pitchability, as he buzzed high-carry heaters in the mid to high 90s past inferior hitters. Opponents hit a combined .149 against him in nearly 75.0 IP between Low-A and High-A, and Mathews is set to make his Double-A debut this weekend.

As for Matt Wilkinson, “Tugboat” burst onto the scene with Low-A Lynchburg, sporting a 1.12 ERA and a 71/9 K/BB ratio in 40.1 IP with the Hillcats before the promotion to High-A Lake County. The 21-year-old Wilkinson may not run his fastball to even the mid 90s, but it gets an absurd amount of whiff at the top of the zone.

Washington’s Brad Lord popped onto the scene out of seemingly nowhere, being the Nationals’ 18th round pick in 2022 out of South Florida. While his fastball usage is jarringly high, he’s had immense success with it, riding it to a Triple-A promotion. The same can essentially be said about Seattle’s Logan Evans, who was the Mariners’ 12th round pick last year out of Pittsburgh. Evans was a four year college guy, splitting his time between Penn State and Pitt, but has spun his way into big league consideration for the Mariners as soon as September.

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The last two are AL Central strike throwers in Chicago’s Noah Schultz and Minnesota’s Zebby Matthews. Schultz comes with ample prospect pedigree, checking in at No. 32 on Just Baseball’s Top 100. It’s been Schultz’s first taste of Double-A ball that planted him firmly on this list, sporting a 1.83 ERA and a 23/1 K/BB ratio in his first 19.2 IP with Birmingham at the ripe age of 20. Matthews is a different story by age (24), but his comical 81/4 K/BB ratio in 69.0 IP between High-A and Double-A is supposed to only be something you can muster in a video game.

Honorable Mentions: Ian Seymour (TB), Trevor Martin (TB), Brandon Sproat (NYM), Drew Thorpe (CWS), Ky Bush (CWS), Mason Adams (CWS), David Festa (MIN), Jonah Tong (NYM), Caden Dana (LAA), Austin Peterson (CLE), Jaden Hamm (DET), Winston Santos (TEX), Spencer Giesting (ARI), George Klassen (PHI)

Relief Pitchers: Zach Agnos (Colorado Rockies), Frankie Scalzo Jr. (Chicago Cubs)

Agnos 1st Half Stats (A+): 21 app., 10 SV, 24.2 IP, 0.73 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 30 K, 2 BB

Scalzo 1st Half Stats (AA/AAA): 22 app., 9 SV, 27.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 18 K, 6 BB

Rounding out the list is two relievers that have yet to be tagged for even a slight bit of damage in 2024. Chicago’s Frankie Scalzo Jr.’s stuff doesn’t jump off the page by any means, but the slider-primary Scalzo went the entire first half of the season allowing just a single unearned run. If that doesn’t get you on the All-First Half Team, we need to go back the drawing board. As for Agnos, the former ECU Pirate just got the well-deserved promotion to Double-A after makign light work of the High-A level, sporting a 30/2 K/BB ratio.

Honorable Mentions: Troy Taylor (SEA), Michael Darrell-Hicks (LAA), Eric Adler (CWS), Wilkin Ramos (NYM), Craig Yoho (MIL)

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