White Sox Top Heavy with Prospects

According to myworld and many other sources, the White Sox have the top prospects in the major leagues. Some of those prospects such as Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito have already graduated to the major leagues. Others will have graduated before the 2018 season ends. What sets them apart is the prospects are both in pitching and offense, though it is with the pitching staff that has scouts eyes sparkle.

The biggest jewel is Michael Kopech, who throws perhaps the hardest fastball in baseball. The character flaws have stayed quiet for the last couple years. Now he just has to learn to find the plate more consistently. His fastball crosses that plate in the triple digits, hitting 103 but sits in the high 90s. A quality slider and decent change give him the three pitches needed to be a starter. The 2014 first round pick tends to walk a hitter every other inning and that has usually come back to bite him. Hitters in AA only batted .184 against him, but he walked almost as many batters (60) as he gave up hits (74). He will start the season in AAA with a strong possibility of seeing major league time this year.

Alec Hansen is one of those tall and lanky pitchers (6′7″) that is all arms as he comes to the plate. His fastball marches to the plate in the mid-90s and as he matures he could hit the high 90s with consistency. He throws two quality breaking pitches, with the curve rated better than a slider and a still developing change. The height and the lanky limbs give him challenges finding a consistent delivery, which lead to control issues, the one nick scouts can cast against him. In 24 starts in A ball hitters bats fizzled at a .205 clip. He had a bit of a rough patch in AA in his two starts, which should be where he begins his 2018 season.

With Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito graduating to the major league pitching staff, Dane Dunning is the lone pitcher from the trio acquired in the Adam Eaton trade with the Nationals still left in the minor leagues. The first round 2016 pick of the Nationals has a good frame for pitching (6′4″) that generates fastballs at 93-96. His secondary pitches (slider and change) are good enough to fit in the middle of the rotation and his command of his pitches is better than Kopech and Hansen. He was a little more hittable in the Carolina League (.250 average) but he did get his share of swings and misses (136 whiffs in 118 innings). He hopes to repeat his success in AA next year and join Lopez and Giolito in the rotation by mid-season 2019.

The Cubs seemed to have given up on their hardest thrower Dylan Cease when they needed pitching, trading him to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. His fastball has hit triple digits but sits between 93 and 97. Quality secondary pitches and command are a problem for Cease, which may make it best for him to settle in the bullpen. His curveball is a nice pitch but his change is still a work in progress. Cease will also be pitching in AA giving that Birmingham pitching staff a loaded rotation.

Carson Fulmer and Ian Clarkin are both pitchers worth mentioning since they were first round picks. Carson was selected by the White Sox in 2015 but he has struggled to retire hitters. Last year in AAA he strung together a 5.79 ERA with the opposition hitting him at a .268 clip. He doesn’t miss bats, with a low 90s fastball that has trouble finding the plate. He did better with the White Sox (3.86 ERA) but 13 walks in 23.1 innings will gray many a manager. Ian was drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2013 draft, selected after Aaron Judge. He was acquired by the White Sox in the Todd Frazier deal. Ian lacks overpowering stuff and is still trying to figure it out in A ball. He could fit in the back end of the rotation but time is running out for Ian.

Bullpen fodder is Brazillian Thyago Viera. He throws in the triple digits but the White Sox were able to purchase him from the Mariners for international bonus money. Command can be a problem and hitters are able to make good contact off him despite the heat he throws on his fastball. If he has success in AAA he could be on the roller coaster with the White Sox, pitching in the major leagues to provide depth in the bullpen.

Eloy Jimenez is the White Sox top hitter. A minor injury will delay the start of his 2018 season in AA. The power is there for him to hit 30 plus homers and hit in the neighborhood north of .300. The Dominican may be wound a little tight because injuries last year limited him to 88 games. Defense is not his strong suit. Below average speed and arm will restrict him to left field. If he can dominate in AA the White Sox could give him a September callup.

Luis Robert may not have as much power as Eloy but he could be the more complete player. His speed will allow him to patrol center with an arm strong enough to fit into right. The White Sox paid the Cuban a $26 million bonus. In his last year in the Naccional Series in Cuba he was leading the league in hitting, homeruns and RBIs as a 19 year old when he departed for the United States mid-season. This will be his first season in the United States, possibly starting the season in Low A. He dominated last year in the Dominican Summer League with a 1.027 OPS in 28 games.

A third outfielder is Blake Rutherford, who was the Yankees first round pick in 2016. A crowded outfield there made him available to the White Sox in the Todd Frazier deal. Despite a 6′3″ frame his power has been a little disappointing. His average speed will limit him to a corner where teams expect some pop. The White Sox hope he’ll find some pop in his bat at High A.

The White Sox 2017 number one pick Jake Burger is a hitting machine. There are some questions about his other tools. An Achilles injury will delay his season until 2019. The White Sox will start him at third base, but there could be an eventual move to first. His bat needs to produce in order for him to play. In rookie ball last year he hit .271 with four homeruns.

Charlie Tilson was supposed to be the White Sox centerfielder as a rookie last year but a hamstring injury ended his season. He has good speed but little power and could find himself turning into a fourth outfielder with the arrivals of Jimenez and Roberts. The White Sox will start him in AAA and he could see the major leagues by mid-season.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.