White Sox Close to Contending

After having the second best farm system in 2017 and 2018 the White Sox are close to contending. The 2017 graduates were Yoan Moncada, who was at one time considered the top prospect in baseball, and Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, two players acquired from the Nationals that are now in their rotation. The 2018 top 100 list included Eloy Jimenez, who is now with their major league club, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Zack Collins, Dylan Cease, Blake Rutherford and Dane Dunning. Carson Fulmer appeared on the 2018 list and has been a disappointment. Some players to watch in 2019.

Eloy Jimenez is one of the top prospects in baseball. He recently signed a multi million dollar extension that will keep him a White Sox a year after his free agency. This allowed the White Sox to make him part of their opening day roster, rather than send him down for a month of “seasoning” to earn one more year of service time. Jimenez has probably one of the more potent bats in baseball, one that could win batting titles as well as homerun titles. He and Vladimir Guerrero could be competing for MVP titles in five years. His defense is not strong so left field or DH will be his best position. A move to first base could also be an option, though myworld has heard no talk of that.

A five tool player who could join Jimenez in the outfield is Luis Robert. The speed is there to play centerfield and the arm could fit in right. Ironically, in Cuba Luis played first base, a spot not suitable for his defensive capabilities. The bat has the potential to hit for power even though he failed to hit a homerun last year in close to 200 at bats. Torn ligaments in his thumb limited him to just 50 games and could have impacted his power swing. The White Sox will start his season in High A in 2019.

Micker Adolfo is another talented outfielder who will probably be restricted to DH most of the year because of Tommy John surgery. The bat will still play though there is a lot of swing and miss in his game. If he can improve his ability to make contact the power numbers will start to appear. Prior to the surgery he had the arm to play right field. Once healthy the White Sox outfield could get a little crowded but his bat will start in AA.

Blake Rutherford was a first round pick of the Yankees in 2016 and traded to the White Sox in the Todd Frazier/David Robertson trade. He was a star for the United States collegiate National team but has yet to live up to expectations in the minor leagues. He lacks any outstanding tool and could end up a fourth outfielder. With the talented outfielders in the White Sox system myworld sees him as trade bait to another club. The speed is not there to play center and the bat lacks the power you want to see play in the corner.

The infield looks a little thin. Jake Burger was a first round draft pick in 2017. He was drafted mainly for his bat. There was some question whether he could stick at third or have to move to first. A torn Achilles tendon prevented him from contributing in the 2018 season. The White Sox hope he will be ready by mid-season in 2019 so they can see what they have.

Nick Madrigal was the first round pick in 2018. He is compared to Jose Altuve because of his short stature (5′8″), his defensive position (second base) and his ability to wallop the ball. He also has the glove to move to short if the White Sox want to use him there. Currently his power is limited to the gaps where he should consistently rip doubles. If he does develop over the fence pop it will be for double digit homeruns less than 20. The speed is there for him to steal bases. He should move quickly, starting in High A and moving to AA by mid-season once he achieves some success.

Zack Collins was the first round pick in 2016. There is some pop in his bat that could see him move from catcher to first base. The White Sox would like to see him work out behind the plate, but his defense still needs a lot of work. He has a strong arm, but a lack of speed and the number of quality outfielders in the White Sox system makes a move to the outfield doubtful. Last year he slugged 15 homeruns with a 101/158 walk to whiff ratio. There are a lot of balls not put in play in his at bats. Next year he should see AAA. Where he plays will depend on his defensive improvement behind the plate.

The White Sox top pitcher Michael Kopech will not be pitching this year after Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery his fastball was one of the top five in the minor leagues, if not number one, often hitting triple digits. A lack of command and average secondary pitches held him back, making him more hittable than he should have been with his stuff. The elbow injury occurred just when he was starting to put everything together and had been slotted in the White Sox rotation. He should be with the White Sox in 2020 after a half season of rehab.

Dylan Cease also has a fastball that hits triple digits. He was originally drafted by the Cubs and traded to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. Like Kopech command has been an issue. His curveball is considered a pretty good pitch and a show me change needs improvement. He should start the season in AAA but get slotted into the White Sox rotation by mid-season, especially if injuries and innings useage makes other young pitchers unavailable.

Dane Dunning was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. He was the third pitcher sent to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade and was getting good vibes as being the better prospect over Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. Tommy John surgery will prevent him from pitching in 2019. His fastball is not overpowering but he has excellent secondary pitches in a curve and slider combination. He also can control the strike zone. He was ready to make an appearance in the White Sox rotation in 2019 but the surgery will delay his debut until 2020.

Zack Burdi is coming back from Tommy John surgery. His triple digit fastball came mainly out of the bullpen. His season ended last year after just seven appearances. In 2017 he pitched in AAA. Finding the strike zone was a challenge then. It could still be a problem now. The 2019 season will probably be for rehab to get him ready for 2020.

Myworld likes Alec Hansen and his 6′7″ frame. After striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings in 2017 season he stumbled last year. His delivery was out of synch walking 59 hitters in just 52 innings. The velocity in his fastball dropped from the mid to upper 90s to the low 90s. Perhaps he was trying too hard to control the pitch. The 2019 season will be key. He will probably repeat AA.

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