A few weeks ago I did a quick off the top of my head top 15 prospects of the Chicago White Sox. Now I have taken more time and put more thought into it and here is how I see the minor leagues for the White Sox.
So as it stands right now, the Chicago White Sox have 10 rookies on the big league roster. I will not add any player who has been on the big league club all season (i.e. Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Nate Jones, Eduardo Escobar, Tyler Flowers). Also players that pitched last year and this year (Dylan Axelrod) So here is my list with a grade and when I think we could see them in the big leagues.
1. Courtney Hawkins, OF, 18– Hawkins was the first round pick of the White Sox in 2012 and has started his big league career in rookie ball with Bristol. He is a big, toolsy outfielder that will wind up playing right field. He has a plus arm and good range. His bat is what had the White Sox very excited when they selected him 13th overall. He has big power potential, that has a good chance to hit for a high average. At 18, he is still raw and will have to work, but should be a top prospect for a while until he makes it to the team. ETA: 2016 Grade: B+
2. Nestor Molina, SP, 23– Molina was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays this past off season in a trade for Sergio Santos. Molina has great command, but is still concentrating on some secondary pitches. He had a 4.61 ERA in 84 innings (13 starts) with AA Birmingham before being promoted to AAA Charlotte. Molina should be competing for a rotation spot in Spring Training next season. ETA: 2013 Grade: B+
3. Jose Quintana, SP, 23– Quintana was signed as a minor league free agent this past offseason after being released by the New York Yankees. He dominated AA earlier this season and now is dominating the AL. He is currently 4-1 with a fantastic 2.04 ERA in 57.1 innings. He is solidifying himself as a mainstay in the White Sox rotation for the seeable future. Should continue to be a very good #3 starter as he continues to grow. ETA: 2012 Grade: B+
4. Simon Castro, SP, 24– Castro is a lot like Molina with the fact that they just don’t walk a lot of hitters. In 97 innings pitched this season between AA and AAA, Castro has only walked 16 hitters (all in AA). He also has a heavy fastball that should do well in Chicago. He should compete with Molina and a few others for a chance to start the season with the White Sox in 2013. ETA: 2013 Grade: B
5. Trayce Thompson, OF, 21– Thompson can be an offensive force if he can make more contact. It is just that simple. Thompson has a slash line of .235/.315/.489 with 16 HR and 63 RBI to go with 14 stolen bases. Thompson’s main problem is a 29.1% strikeout rate. He plays a very good defensive outfield at really any position with a plus arm. I think it should be perfect timing for him to make his appearance with the Sox when Alex Rios’ contract is up. ETA: 2014 Grade: B
6. Carlos Sanchez, SS/2B, 20– This slick fielding shortstop just turned 20 years old about a week ago and recently found out he made the World Team in the Futures Game. Already at high A ball Winston-Salem, Sanchez has a slash line of .320/.380/..398 with 14 doubles, 4 triples, 1 home run, 39 RBI and 15 stolen bases. If he can work on his plate discipline just a tad more, he could be a very good #2 hitter in the future. ETA: 2014 Grade: B (with the chance to move up to a B+ at season’s end)
7. Erik Johnson, SP, 22– Johnson was a 2nd round draft pick in 2011. He is a big right hander out of the University of California that can get his fastball up in the mid 90’s very consistently throughout a start. He could end up being a good #3 starter or a power, late inning reliever. ETA: late 2014 Grade: B
8. Tyler Saladino, SS, 22– Saladino is a good hitter that has a chance to be a plus offensive player at the big league level. He is a very patient hitter, which is shown by his OBP of .375. A very good sign is his 62/54 K/BB ratio. He is having a bit of a down year at the plate, but lately he has started showing the same skills he did last year. Should be able to stick at SS defensively. ETA: 2014 Grade: B
9. Jake Petricka, SP/RP, 24– Big, power righty that is currently a starting pitcher, but will probably be shifted to a power reliever spot soon so he can get to the bigs quicker. Has good strikeout stuff, but needs to refine the command to make it as a late inning reliever. ETA: 2012 (as a RP) Grade: B- (RP)/C (SP)
10. Keenyn Walker, CF, 21– Walker was the first round pick in 2011 and is a legitimate leadoff candidate for the future. At Low A Kannapolis, he is hitting .275/.384/.368 with 37 steals. He needs to cut down on the strikeouts (28.5%), but he plays a very good center field. ETA: late 2014 Grade: B/B-
11. Blair Walters, SP, 22– Walters had a very good first half of the season in 2012 with Low A Kannapolis going 3-3 (13 starts) with a 2.88 ERA, he got a promotion to High A Winston Salem, but has struggled in 3 starts with a 6.88 ERA. The lefty has good command and has good strikeouts numbers (85K in 89IP). Could be a quick riser through the system. ETA: mid 2014 Grade: B/B-
12. Jared Mitchell, RF, 23– Mitchell is having a very productive year at the plate. He started off really hot and has slowed down, but still has a very good OPS at .838. He has 13 doubles, 10 triples, 8 home runs, 48 RBI and 18 stolen bases. He must cut down his K rate of 28.9%, but has a very good 15.4 BB%. Still raw as a player, but is at AA Birmingham. He probably needs a full season AAA in 2013 and should be ready by 2014. Which is fine because the Sox outfield is set for 2013 as of right now. ETA: late 2013 Grade: B-/C+
13. Pedro Hernandez, SP, 23– Hernandez was the second player acquired for Carlos Quentin and has pitched extremely well at AA Birmingham. In 12 starts (68.2 IP), he compiled a 7-2 record and a 2.75 ERA. He doesn’t strike a lot of people out, but doesn’t walk them that much either. Reminds me a little of Jose Quintana. ETA: late 2013 Grade: C+
14. Keon Barnum, 1B, 19– Barnum was the 2012 supplemental round pick. He was a high school first baseman out of Tampa, FL. He has big power from the left side of the plate. Very athletic and could move to the outfield if he had to. In his first 19 at bats, Barnum hit 3 home runs and drove in 7 runs. ETA: 2016 Grade: B-/C+ (Should really jump up after we get some pro data)
15. Chris Beck, SP, 21– Beck was the 2012 2nd round pick out of Georgia Southern. The White Sox think they got a steal with this pick. He will throw out of the pen in Bristol the rest of this season since he pitched in college already this year. He should be a starter going into next season and a player to really watch in 2013. ETA: mid 2015 Grade: C+ (should steadily go up)
16. Andre Rienzo, SP, 24– Reinzo is a right hander from Brazil and has the White Sox excited about what he is showing them. He was suspended 50 games for testing positive for PEDs. Before the suspension he was 3-0 (4 starts) with a 1.08 ERA in High A Winston Salem, since he has came back he is 3-1 (5 starts) with a 2.45 ERA with AA Birmingham. He has a 61/21 K/BB ratio in 54.1 innings pitched. Could compete for a bullpen spot next year and then for a rotation spot in 2014. ETA: late 2013 Grade: C+ (Just because he was suspended, would be a B-)
17. Brady Shoemaker, OF, 25– Brady had a great first half of the season with Winston Salem hitting .327/.419/.546 for an OPS of .965. He also had 23 doubles, 13 home runs and 59 RBI. He just recently got to AA Birmingham and could end up being a good 4th outfielder. ETA: late 2013 Grade: C
18. Juan Silverio, 3B, 21– Silverio has moved to 3B from SS and has started hitting with High A Winston Salem. He needs to be more patient and I still think some power will develop and should be a 15-20 HR guy at the hot corner. ETA: 2014 Grade: C
19. Andy Wilkins, 1B, 23– Wilkins is a power hitting 1B who should hit somewhere around 25 home runs a year as he gets his stroke down. Has a respectable 51/38 K/BB ratio. Hits left handed and plays a pretty good defensive first base. ETA: 2014 Grade: C
20. Joey DeMichele, 2B, 21– He was the third round pick out of Arizona St. in 2012. Between Rookie Ball Bristol and Low A Kannapolis, DeMichele is hitting .380/.443/.648 for an OPS of 1.091. He has 5 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs and 14 RBI to go with 6 stolen bases in 6 attempts. Should be a pesky #2 hitter. ETA: 2015 Grade: C+ (Will rise up rankings over the next year and a half)
Honorable Mention: Brandon Short, OF, 23- Short is a guy that had sort of a bust out season last year in 2011, but then suffered a season ending injury in Spring Training. I didn’t rank him because I want to see where he is at when he comes back. Could be a top 10 player in this system in the middle of the season in 2013.
I know some people would think that this is a little generous, but with the way the White Sox continue to produce arms and role players out of the minors, I can’t help but think that some people just don’t know what they are talking about. I am not saying that every one of these players will be on the White Sox in 2016 (especially with the way that GM Kenny Williams trades prospects), but there is more quality than people give them credit for. I think the player to really watch over the next year and a half is SS Carlos Sanchez. He could be a quick riser and challenge Beckham for 2B as early as 2014 at just 21 years old.