Top 30 Prospects: Chicago White Sox

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Chicago White Sox. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

White Sox Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Eloy Jimenez 22.3 MLB RF 2019 60
2 Michael Kopech 22.9 MLB RHP 2019 55
3 Nick Madrigal 22.0 A+ 2B 2020 55
4 Luis Robert 21.7 A+ CF 2020 55
5 Dylan Cease 23.3 AA RHP 2019 50
6 Dane Dunning 24.3 AA RHP 2021 50
7 Micker Adolfo 22.6 A+ RF 2021 45
8 Luis Alexander Basabe 22.6 AA CF 2019 45
9 Blake Rutherford 21.9 A+ LF 2020 45
10 Luis Gonzalez 23.6 A+ RF 2020 45
11 Zack Collins 24.2 AA 1B 2019 45
12 Jake Burger 23.0 A 3B 2021 40+
13 Steele Walker 22.7 A LF 2022 40+
14 Jimmy Lambert 24.4 AA RHP 2020 40
15 Seby Zavala 25.6 AAA C 2019 40
16 Tyler Johnson 23.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
17 Gavin Sheets 22.9 A+ 1B 2020 40
18 Jordan Stephens 26.6 AAA RHP 2019 40
19 Konnor Pilkington 21.6 R LHP 2021 40
20 Alec Hansen 24.5 AA RHP 2020 40
21 Zack Burdi 24.1 AAA RHP 2019 40
22 Luis Mieses 18.8 R CF 2022 40
23 Codi Heuer 22.7 R RHP 2021 40
24 Zach Thompson 25.4 AA RHP 2020 35+
25 Bernardo Flores 23.6 AA LHP 2020 35+
26 Danny Mendick 25.5 AAA SS 2019 35+
27 Bryce Bush 19.3 R RF 2022 35+
28 Lenyn Sosa 19.2 R SS 2022 35+
29 Ryan Burr 24.8 MLB RHP 2019 35+
30 Ian Hamilton 23.8 MLB RHP 2019 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 70/80 60/70 40/40 45/50 60/60

Even before the White Sox acquired Jimenez from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade, he had dealt with a multitude of injuries. Hamstring and shoulder issues plagued him while he was still with the Cubs, and limited him to DH duty, or forced him to sit out for a few days at a time, or altogether kept rehabbing him on the Mesa backfields. He has continued to have various issues since the South Siders acquired him. In 2018 alone, Jimenez dealt with patella tendinitis during the early part of spring training, then was left back in extended due to a strained pec. He suffered a strained left adductor in July, and finally a quad strain this winter, which ended his Dominican Winter League season.

But while Eloy has missed considerable time with injuries and sometimes played through them, he has mashed like few other players in the minors. He split 2018 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, slashing .337/.384/.577, his strikeout rate plummeting to 13% at the latter stop. Despite his limited speed and at-bats, he somehow managed to net 53 extra-base hits and seemed ready for a big league cup of coffee in September. The White Sox refused to brew him one, and Eloy’s agent threatened to file a grievance against the club, an issue that was resolved during 2019 spring training with a record contract extension. He’ll likely be up all year, and while we think there’s a chance injury or a lack of mobility limit Eloy’s ceiling the way flaws have similarly limited some of Chicago’s other recent prospect graduates, we still think he’ll hit enough to be a star.

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Mt. Pleasant HS (TX) (BOS)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/60 45/55 40/45 94-98 / 101

Just as Kopech seemed to be harnessing his hellacious stuff, he blew out. In the seven minor league starts before his big league debut, Kopech walked just four batters, and he was similarly efficient in his first few big league outings. His velocity was down and the Tigers shelled him in his final start, and an MRI revealed Kopech would need Tommy John. The timing was particularly cruel, not just because things had started to click, but also because late-season TJs usually cost the pitcher all of the next year; Kopech isn’t expected to be back until 2020.

His stuff is great, headlined by a mid-90s fastball that often crests 100 mph. The command inroads Kopech made late in 2018 are especially important for his ability to deal with lefties, because his changeup feel is not very good. He’ll need to mix his two breaking balls together to deal with them, and his slider feel is way ahead of the curveball. So long as Kopech’s stuff returns, he has No. 3 starter ceiling if the command comes with it, and high-leverage relief ability if the latter does not.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (CHW)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/70 45/45 40/45 70/70 55/60 50/50

When Madrigal fractured his wrist during Oregon State’s second series of the year, he was hitting .560 (14-for-25) with two doubles, two homers, and three steals in three attempts. For two long weekends in Arizona, he did everything. He crushed balls in all parts of the strike zone, ran plus-plus times to first base, and made several highlight reel defensive plays at second base. The wrist fracture kept him out for the rest of February, all of March, and most of April. When he returned, Madrigal kept hitting, but not for power, which is consistent with what plagues hitters for several months after they’ve had a break in the hand/wrist area.

That trend continued through his first pro summer, which was interrupted by a hamstring issue, as Madrigal struggled to pull and/or lift the ball at all. He had a downward, slashing swing instead of the dynamic and athletic cut he’d had early in the year, when he could scoop and lift stuff at the bottom of the zone. But he kept making contact. It was a month before a pro pitcher was able to strike Madrigal, who only K’d in 3% of his pro plate appearances last year, out.

It’s fair to make a distinction between prospects who are small, and ones who are just short. Jose Altuve is short, but is built like a little tank. Madrigal is small, a diminutive 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, and this, combined with his total lack of post-draft power, has the pro side of scouting very concerned. He looked tired and sluggish during instructional league, though it wasn’t as if he’d played a whole year and was an obvious candidate to be run down, furthering concerns that his size will be an issue. We’re inclined to believe there’s a substantial bounce-back on the horizon. He was the best draft-eligible hitter we saw last year, a complete player with few, if any, flaws.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 65/65 30/55 60/60 50/55 60/60

More than a full year removed from all that intrigue and we still know relatively little about Luis Robert, largely due to a thumb ligament sprain LouBob dealt with throughout 2018. His signing with Chicago marked the end of a more lucrative era for young international players who are now subject to more tight-fisted rules capping bonus amounts. Despite a limited market due to the timing of his deal, Robert signed for $26 million thanks to his all-world physical gifts. The raw power and top-end speed were obvious in workouts, but unless teams scouted him in Series Nacional or during the Cuban National team’s annual CanAm League tour, little was known about his ability to hit big league-quality pitching, or what his instincts were like in center field.

Because his thumb cost him April, May, and July (he re-aggravated it), it was hard to get extended looks during 2018 until Robert’s six-week stint in the Arizona Fall League (which was also interrupted by a hamstring issue). LouBob’s AFL stats were fine, but his swing path left him vulnerable to velocity on the inner half, and he too often expanded the zone. There’s doubt that he’ll get to all of his raw power in games, both due to the swing path and lack of plate discipline, but it isn’t as if he’s had time to make proper adjustments yet, and the pitching he saw in Arizona was the best he’s seen in his life. The ceiling is the same as it was purported to be before he signed: power, speed, offensive performance similar to Carlos Gomez’s best years. There’s just more risk that Robert doesn’t get there.

50 FV Prospects

5. Dylan Cease, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Milton HS (GA) (CHC)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 45/50 40/45 95-98 / 101

Cease burst onto the scouting scene in 2013 when, as a junior in high school, he hit 96 mph and flashed an above average curveball at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament in Cary, NC. He mostly held serve in his senior year, occasionally touching a tick or two higher or flashing 60 with his curveball, but was still a stuff over command type. The Cubs went well overslot to get Cease in the sixth round with a $1 million bonus, below what his talent was worth, but appropriate since clubs knew he needed Tommy John surgery right after he signed.

He’s slowly made progress in terms of starter traits during his pro career, while his velocity has increased to where he sits 95-98 mph now. In 2018, he took the biggest step forward, dominating High-A and Double-A at age 22, and some scouts are now projecting him as a No. 2 or 3 starter. We still aren’t completely convinced, as Cease is still control over command, and may fit best in a multi-inning relief role, or as a starter who doesn’t face any hitters a third time.

6. Dane Dunning, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (WAS)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 50/55 50/55 90-93 / 94

Dunning was an intriguing projection arm in high school who flashed average stuff and had some athleticism. Then he took a big step forward in his freshman year at Florida. At his best, Dunning has three pitches that flash plus at times and starter command, but most often has above average stuff and good control, consistent with a No. 4 starter look. The Nationals took him in the late first round in 2016 despite him being the bullpen/midweek/spot starting utility knife on a loaded staff. He was in the Adam Eaton deal in 2018 and missed the second half of 2018 with an elbow strain, before tearing his UCL and having Tommy John during 2019 spring training. He’ll be back midway through 2020 and is likely to be pushed quickly to the big leagues if his stuff is back.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 65/65 40/55 50/45 40/40 50/50

When Micker Adolfo (often referred to by scouts as Micker Zapata while he was an amateur) was 14 years old, he moved from the Virgin Islands to the Dominican Republic to train for his future baseball career. Mostly due to his huge raw power, he signed for what was then a franchise IFA-record $1.6 million, a mark that has since been shattered by Luis Robert. Adolfo’s early career was mired in strikeouts and injury. He struck out at a 43% clip in his first season, missed most of 2015 due to a gruesome leg fracture, and then broke his hamate a month into 2016 and hit for no power after he returned.

While he continues to strike out at a somewhat troubling rate (30% combined over the last two seasons), Adolfo has performed each of the last two years despite playing through an elbow injury that required Tommy John in 2018. He’s grown into the power expected of him as an amateur and has slugged just shy of .460 as an age-appropriate regular at Low- and Hi-A. Back from Tommy John during the Spring of 2019, Adolfo looked buff, but stiff. The power is still there, but so too is the risk he ends up as a DH. One has to wonder if, through no fault of his own, the large swaths of inactivity throughout his career have led to an early tumble down the defensive spectrum. We still really like that power potential and are encouraged by the last two years of output. At this point, Adolfo’s tools probably are what they are (though perhaps some arm comes back further removed from surgery) and his statistical performance will drive his stock.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 45/50 60/60 40/45 60/60

Basabe shredded the Carolina League for the first two and a half months of 2018 — hitting .266/.370/.502 — then had one of the year’s most impressive feats of strength when he turned around a 102 mph Hunter Greene fastball at the Futures Game, and deposited it 10 rows deep to right-center field. His second half with Double-A Birmingham was less successful, and just as Basabe appeared to be adjusting to the better pitching in August, he would again struggle in the Arizona Fall League. Perhaps the most notable takeaway from the AFL is that Basabe’s instincts in center field are not great, and he may be better suited for a corner despite his speed. If that’s the case (it’d be fair to assume Basabe was gassed during the AFL and to just exclude that look from consideration) then the swing and miss aspect of the profile (27% K% last year) becomes a little scary. But Basabe has a potent collection of physical tools, he’s walked at an above-average clip, his modest power plays in games because he lifts the ball, and all of that should enable him to be a second division regular.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Chaminade Prep HS (CA) (NYY)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/50 30/45 50/45 40/50 45/45

Famous since his days as a high school underclassman, Rutherford was a likely over-slot target of teams picking early in round two of the 2016 draft, but the Yankees took him 18th overall and signed him for about $800,000 over slot. He had a strong track record of performance in high school, but concerns about his power projection arose during Rutherford’s first full season, when he slugged just .348. One could point to his age (Rutherford was as old as a junior college prospect on draft day) as an indicator that should have been tempered our expectations of his power growth in the first place. But really, Rutherford’s swing, while picturesque, is just geared for all-fields doubles. He has some low-ball, home run power to his pull side, but otherwise does damage peppering the gaps and third baseline. Half of his 2018 doubles were struck to left of center field. It’s not an ideal profile for a corner outfielder, but Rutherford is a likely big leaguer. We have him projected as a low-end regular.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from New Mexico (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 30/45 50/50 45/50 50/50

The quick-batted Gonzalez had a breakout 2018, with a 140 wRC+ during half seasons at Low- and Hi-A. He stands way off the dish, which creates some quality-of-contact limitations on pitches away from him in exchange for an ability to open up and turn on inside pitches with authority. It’s an approach that’s typically shiftable, but Gonzalez is also a good bunter and runs well to combat this. Like Rutherford ahead of him, it’s tough to project corner outfielders with middling power as average or better regulars. Rutherford is younger and perhaps has a better shot to grow into more, while Gonzalez has the superior feel for contact and might end up a 6 bat who doesn’t need to hit for power to profile. The two are pretty interchangeable depending on your preference.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Miami (CHW)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 45/50 20/20 40/40 50/50

We suppose Collins could catch on occasion, but he probably shouldn’t be back there every day due to issues with receiving and mobility. Despite only fitting at 1B/DH, Collins’ combination of power and on base ability make it likely that he finds his way into regular big league at-bats somewhere, especially if the DH is instituted in the National League. His 19% walk rate was among the best in the minors last year, and just 33% of Collins’ balls in play are on the ground. He’s a pretty good three true outcomes prospect, a bat-only 1-2 WAR player à la Josh Bell or Justin Bour, who we’ll likely see in the big leagues by 2020.

40+ FV Prospects

12. Jake Burger, 3B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Missouri State (CHW)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 60/60 40/55 45/30 40/45 60/60

Thick and tightly wound, Burger was already a tenuous bet to stay at third base for very long before he twice ruptured his Achilles tendon, once during a spring training game and again while rehabbing in late May. The 12 month timetable for return from Achilles tears was reset, and puts Burger on track to come back sometime in June. While there are questions about his defense, Burger was one of the top college bats in the 2017 class. He has quick, explosive hands that generate big bat speed, and he has unusual bat control for someone who swings as hard as he does. He has sizable ceiling, especially if he can find a way to stay at third base, but we just won’t know what kind of toll the injuries have taken until Burger starts playing games again. He’s a good bet to see time in the 2019 Arizona Fall League.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Oklahoma (CHW)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 30/50 50/45 45/50 45/45

It’s rare for there to be a college hitter with this kind of scintillating, violent bat speed, let alone one who’s overshadowed by an even toolsier teammate the way Walker was by Kyler Murray. Perhaps it was concerns about strikeouts, or the vague and mysterious injury bug that bit Walker during the Big 12 tournament, that caused him to fall out of the first round despite hitting .352/.441/.606 in a large conference. He’s an athletic swinger with a natural uppercut swing that seemed likely to help him lift the ball regularly, and the little bit of batted ball data we have from after Walker signed suggests that notion is correct. We’re doubtful that he stays in center field long term, but it’s hard to say that definitively because Walker lost reps there to Murray in college, and may yet develop better feel. He’s likely a big league regular if he can either stay in center or avoid perilously high strikeout rates, a star if he does both, and a corner platoon bat if he does neither.

40 FV Prospects

14. Jimmy Lambert, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Fresno State (CHW)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 50/55 50/55 45/50 91-94 / 95

Lambert’s strikeout rate exploded from 16% in 2017 to nearly 29% in 2018. The cause? A slight uptick in velocity paired with an arm slot change that has Lambert coming straight over the top, creating more life on his heater. It also creates more vertical action on his breaking stuff. This delivery appears tough to maintain, as Lambert has to contort his body to get to that slot, but he hasn’t been wild since making the change. His well-rounded collection of stuff plays much better like this, and Lambert now projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Drafted: 12th Round, 2015 from San Diego State (CHW)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 40/45 30/30 45/45 50/50

Likely a long-time bat first, backup catcher, Zavala has some power, an average arm, and has worked hard to become a viable defensive catcher. Lauded for his makeup, Zavala got big and strong after he was drafted but appeared more lean and lithe this spring. He could get his first taste of the majors in 2019.

16. Tyler Johnson, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from South Carolina (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 45/50 93-95 / 97

Yet another South Carolina Gamecock having success in pro ball, Johnson is a physical beast with big velocity. He struck out nearly 40% of opposing hitters in 2018 by relying heavily on the heater. Both his slider and changeup are serviceable, and Johnson projects in a middle relief role.

17. Gavin Sheets, 1B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (CHW)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 70/70 40/50 30/30 40/50 50/50

Likely in need of a swing change to profile at first, Sheets’ cut too often slices down at the baseball, and he can only get to his considerable raw power in certain parts of the strike zone. He has good bat control and makes mid-flight adjustments to breaking balls, which he has the raw strength to punish even if the timing of his lower half has been compromised. He’s a good hitter, just one we’re skeptical will clear the offensive bar at first base without trading some contact for power. Sheets is also another example of why we should be skeptical of hitters’ power numbers at Wake Forest.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Rice (CHW)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/50 55/60 40/45 50/55 45/50 89-93 / 95

In a starter/reliever grey area, Stephens doesn’t have the changeup quality typically desired from a starter, but he can back foot his breaking balls and work cut in on the hands of lefties, so the lack of change may not matter. His curveball, typically in the upper-70s, has premium raw spin; that pitch should alone carry him to a role on a big league staff. He spent 2018 with Triple-A Charlotte and is a strong multi-inning relief candidate.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Mississippi State (CHW)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 228 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 45/50 45/55 87-91 / 92

Pilkington missed an SEC bat per inning during his stay at Mississippi State, and seemed like a potentially quick-moving, low-variance backend starter prospect when the White Sox made him their third round pick last year. Physically mature and wielding vanilla stuff, Pilkington’s upside is limited, and most of his draft value was in perceived certainty. His stuff was sometimes down in the mid-80s during the 2019 spring, though. Ideally, he’ll move to the upper levels pretty quickly, assuming his velocity rebounds.

20. Alec Hansen, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma (CHW)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 60/60 40/45 40/40 90-95 / 97

What a roller coaster of a career it has already been for Hansen, who looked like a possible top three pick as a college sophomore, faltered as a junior, appeared reborn once free of seemingly poor college instruction, then collapsed again in 2018 when he was hurt for a time (forearm) and had more walks than innings pitched.

At his best, Hansen will sit 94-97 early in starts and both his breaking balls will be plus. Last year his velo was down, sometimes into the upper-80s. Hansen is built like an Andean Condor, and it’s fair to anticipate mechanical consistency arriving late for an athlete built like that. But he turns 25 this year and even if his stuff bounces back, we think he’ll just end up in a relief role.

21. Zack Burdi, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Louisville (CHW)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/45 50/50 40/45 92-96 / 101

Burdi’s stuff was way down when he returned from Tommy John last year. He was 97-101 with a plus slider and changeup prior to his injury and at his ranking peak, was one of the few relief-only prospects who we considered a 50 FV prospect. During his AZL rehab outings and in the AFL, Burdi was often throwing just 92-94 and his slider’s spin rate dropped to 2200 rpm after spiraling in at 2700 rpm when he was healthy. He had to be shut down during the spring of 2019 spring and while we’re hopeful for an eventual bounce-back, Burdi’s future is murky.

22. Luis Mieses, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 50/50 20/50 45/40 45/45 45/45

An 18-year-old leviathan, Mieses is much more physical than his listed 180 pounds, and it’s shocking to watch him use his instincts and first step to close on balls in center field, even though he likely won’t play there for very long. He has exceptional hand-eye coordination and finds all sorts of ways to put the bat head on the ball but too often, he offers at pitcher’s pitches and settles for sub-optimal contact. He has a gorgeous, low-ball left-handed swing that could produce power if Miesis learned to attack the right pitches. The near bottom-of-the-scale walk rates each of his first two years are certainly a red flag, but Mieses’ size and hitting ability make him an intriguing, high-ceiling flier.

23. Codi Heuer, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Wichita State (CHW)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 40/45 50/55 50/55 45/55 92-95 / 96

Heuer spent his first two college seasons in the Wichita State bullpen but was frequently seen by draft room decision makers as a junior because they were in to see Alec Bohm and Greyson Jenista. His arm slot and spotty college fastball command made a bullpen projection popular, but because Heuer is a big-framed, cold weather (Colorado) high schooler who threw limited innings for two years in college, we’re a little more optimistic about him improving. He had a strong fall instructional league during which his mid-90s sinker worked as an effective precursor for a good changeup. He doesn’t have great breaking ball spin but at times his fastballs cut on him, and there might be a viable third pitch here that simply isn’t a traditional breaking ball. He’s likely a two-pitch reliever but in our estimation, there’s room for growth because of the background. He could be a workhorse backend starter.

35+ FV Prospects

24. Zach Thompson, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Texas-Arlington (CHW)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

You could argue Thompson belongs up with Jordan Stephens on this list, especially because Thompson doesn’t yet need to occupy a 40-man spot the way Stephens does, but even though they’re each likely to end up in the bullpen, Thompson is the one who has already moved. He sits 92-95 and has an above-average curveball, a pretty standard two-pitch middle relief mix.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from USC (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

It seems that, after his velocity yo-yo’d throughout college (probably due to inconsistent usage) and early as a pro, Flores’ fastball has settled in 89-92 range. It just means he’ll have to pitch off of his secondaries more, the best of which is a tilting, 2-to-7 curveball that spins in at about 2750 rpm. Flores will throw the curve in the zone for strikes or bounce it in the dirt to his glove side. He can also create good angle in on righties with what looks like a cutter. He’s at least strong rotation depth, if not just a good No. 5 starter.

Drafted: 22th Round, 2015 from UMass Lowell (CHW)
Age 25.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

There’s warranted age-based skepticism of Mendick’s numbers at Hi- and Double-A each of the last two years, but it’s encouraging that he had such a strong 2018 after a bad month and a half at Birmingham the year prior. He was similarly excellent during 2019 spring training, though most of his at-bats came against late-inning reserve arms. But as a versatile infielder with terrific control of the strike zone, Mendick is a very rosterable big leaguer who should give you good at-bats off the bench. His career peripherals are strong and may be an indication that we’re sleeping on him a bit because of his age.

27. Bryce Bush, RF
Drafted: 33th Round, 2018 from De La Salle Collegiate HS (MI) (CHW)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

A late-round, cold-weather high school flier who signed for $290,000, Bush played in some of the big prep showcases during his final amateur summer, and was clearly overmatched against the better pitching. But he put on an absolute show during batting practice and has one of the best raw power projections among potential future Sox. He had a strong pro debut on paper and continued to look good with the bat during the spring of 2019. The general scouting consensus is that Bush will not stay at his current third base and will have to move to an outfield corner or first, which immediately makes Bush’s high school whiffs troublesome. He’s a high-risk, long-term developmental prospect with some of the louder offensive tools in the system.

28. Lenyn Sosa, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (CHW)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

While initial impressions of Sosa were that he had a shot to hit his way to an everyday gig at second base, continued evaluations indicate he may have sufficient instincts and footwork to remain at short despite limited straight-line speed. The bat control required for him to clear the middle infield offensive bar is there, but he’s not physically projectable, and needs to be more selective at the dish.

29. Ryan Burr, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Arizona State (ARI)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Burr is Arizona State’s all-time saves leader. He was 93-96 with an above-average slider almost every time out as a Sun Devil, but began experiencing wild fluctuations in velocity during his early time in pro ball. But in 2017, his stuff returned to its collegiate form; the Dbacks traded him for International bonus space, and Burr sped to the majors. He profiles as a standard, two-pitch reliever, but the velo fluctuation and 2016 injury dilute his FV a tad.

30. Ian Hamilton, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Washington State (CHW)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Hamilton has thrown very hard dating back to college and has maintained that kind of velo despite having one of the longer arm actions in baseball. His upper-80s slider is a gravity ball that spins at just 1600 rpm. It seems to work as long as Hamilton locates it, but his delivery is pretty hard to repeat. He profiles in middle relief as long as that weird slider plays against big league hitters.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Youth with Some Helium
Amado Nunez, 2B
Cabera Weaver, OF
Anderson Comas, OF
Lency Delgado, 3B
Josue Guerrero, OF

This is the most important group of the Others because any of them might be on the main section of the list by mid-season. Nunez can hit but will be limited to second base and his body is maxed out. He’ll need to develop a 6 bat, but he has a shot to get there. Weaver is a skinny 19-year-old with speed. He needs to get stronger. Comas has a big frame, and good hand-eye and bat control, but his swing is disconcertingly long. Delgado is built like a fullback and has some pop and a shot to stay at third base. Guerrero’s body has gone backwards since his amateur days but he’s still very young and was an interesting $1 million power projection signee not long ago.

A Carrying Tool
Laz Rivera, SS
Jameson Fisher, 1B/LF
Corey Zangari, 1B

Some teams like Rivera at shortstop and he can really swing it, but he’s too aggressive and probably maxes out as a utility guy. Fisher has great feel to hit but the college injury that contributed to his moving out from behind the plate turned out to be significant. Zangari has huge power but hasn’t played much in two years due to Tommy John.

Just a Bunch of Pitchers
Kodi Medeiros, LHP
A.J. Puckett, RHP
Luis Ledo, RHP
Jason Bilous, RHP
Lincoln Henzman, RHP

Medeiros is a low slot lefty with a good slider. That may not be enough once new pitcher usage rules are implemented next year. Puckett has backend stuff but is 24 and had TJ this spring. Ledo has been into the mid-90s and flashes a plus split. Bilous would do that in college but has been more 90-92 as a pro. Henzman could have a 55 slider at maturity and pitch in a bullpen.

System Overview

This system has dealt with an unusual number of severe injuries — with several TJs, including two to positions players, plus Burger’s Achilles and Luis Robert’s thumb injuries — but it’s hard not to note that most of the name prospects the Sox have acquired have fallen a little short of expectations. Most of them are still very young, but Moncada’s contact issues are concerning, Lucas Giolito’s stuff has been all over the place, Reynaldo Lopez has been erratic, and several of the pitchers are throwing a little less hard now than they were in prior years.

That reads like finger pointing at player dev, but Chris Getz has only been running that department since the fall of 2016 and if we don’t count the guys who have been hurt badly during his tenure, there are more stock up players during that span (Lambert for sure, plus Zavala, and we’d say Gonzalez though it seems like he was in some teams’ late first round mix and it’s possible we were just light on him as an amateur) than there are instances of frustration (Sheets would ideally have more lift, and spring looks at Pilkington indicate he may have backed up). With that in mind, the players to watch are the 2017 July 2 signees and the 2018 high schoolers (Mieses, Bush, Delgado, Cabrera, Comas), since it’s the first talent Getz and Co. will get to mold from such an age, as Chicago has been college-heavy in recent drafts.

This system is top-heavy, with potential stars leading the way and very little in the way of depth beyond those few names, though the group of recent high school selections in the 35+ FV tier and Others of Note should yield a gem or two. The third overall pick in the draft will help replace some of the clout lost when Eloy graduates, and it’s possible that some of the veterans on expiring deals (Jose Abreu, Ivan Nova, Yonder Alonso, Welington Castillo) could net something at the trade deadline.

We hoped you liked reading Top 30 Prospects: Chicago White Sox by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel!

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sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

blech.

It’s hard to fault the White Sox for what they did, and Jimenez, Cease, Kopech, and Dunning all look like winners (and maybe Reynaldo Lopez can turn the corner) but this looks like a pretty searing indictment of the find-power-and-hit-tool-will-come-later approach in their amateur acquisition. Robert, Adolfo, and Collins all came that way, and Moncada also fits that profile (although he came a different way). It’s interesting that they drafted Madrigal after all that, who is basically the opposite of those guys.

One other thing: I have pretty high standards for what counts as a #1 pitcher, a #2 pitcher, a #3 pitcher, etc, but Eric and Kiley’s definitions are just wack. I know we’ve been over this before, but do baseball organizations really define a a #1 as the top 1-3 starters in the league who post more than 7 wins regularly? And a #2 as a guy between 5 and 7 wins? And a #3 for a guy between 3.5 and 4.9 wins? I’m not sure there are any #1 starters right now based on this definition, since deGrom and Scherzer don’t exactly have histories of topping 7 wins, and Sale and Kluber didn’t last year.

MikeS
Member
MikeS

It was a lot easier to be excited last year. A lot of serious injuries have really tempered enthusiasm and slowed down (at best) the rebuild. Big picture, they have a high draft pick this year and almost certainly will next year as well, so that’s two more chances at a star. Probably the year after that too. So there is still some hope.

I think the “find power and hope for hit tool” strategy is at least a step ahead of the previous “find athlete and hope they can learn to play baseball” strategy they were previously employing.

Red
Member
Member

It sucks that “there is some hope” as you just defined it, means nine consecutive sub .500 seasons is in some way acceptable.

Shauncore
Member
Member
Shauncore

I use a fairly simple standard for putting a number on a pitcher (and I’m open to critiques of it):

#5 ~1 WAR
#4 ~2 WAR
#3 ~3 WAR
#2 ~4 WAR
#1 ~5 WAR

Basically just inverse numbers. Qualified pitchers from 2015-2018, WAR per 200 IP (165 pitchers):

#1 Kershaw/Sale/Scherzer/Syndergaard/deGrom/Kluber/Strasburg/Paxton/Verlander (9 total)
#2 Archer/Taillon/Snell/Darvish/Price/Gray/McCullers/Hill/Cole/Severino/Nola/Carrasco (12 total)
#3 Gray/Richards/Buchholz/Eovaldi up to Greinke/Quintana/Hendricks (38 total)
#4 Anibal Sanchez/Nolasco/Bundy/Hellickson up to Trevor Williams/Porcello/DeSclafani/Wainwright (58 total)
#5 Shields to Guerra (48 total)

#1 5.5%
#2 7.3%
#3 23%
#4 35.2%
#5 29.1%

I think you can nitpick over the names and arguing a guy at like 4.7 WAR should be a #1 not a #2, but I think that distribution is mostly fair

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

That’s literally my grading rubric as well, although I’m not sure I’m a little more stingy about prorating over innings and I prefer the projections instead of past performance. So under mine I’d say it goes something like this:
#1: Sale/Scherzer/deGrom/Kluber/Verlander
#2: Cole/Nola/Syndergaard/Severino/Paxton/Bauer/Snell/Carrasco
#3: Archer/Strasburg/Marquez/Corbin/Taillon/Buehler/Kershaw/Berrios/Price/Happ/Greinke/Keuchel
(I think that realistically, we’re likely to see Buehler, Corbin, and Marquez higher than this, but that’s how I’d classify them for now).

My qualitative interpretation of this is that this is the type of rotation you want if you want to make a deep playoff run. An ace to get through a possible play-in game, and a top 3 that is strong enough to make a huge dent during a short series (and a pretty strong one in a longer series). Your #4 is a guy you only want starting once in a 7-game series if you can help it, and ideally your #5 has stuff that will play up out of the bullpen.

But overall, I can’t imagine that teams are actually using a more stringent definition of this than I am. I’m used to people yelling at me because I think there aren’t 25-30 #1’s in the league, so I’m not used to being on this side of the debate.

Shauncore
Member
Member
Shauncore

I don’t love the inning proration either but the variance of year-to-year is a bit too choppy. And of course I don’t think an “ace” is a one-year thing. It takes several seasons of dominance to reach that.

sgp2204
Member
sgp2204

Maybe it’s just me, but I think there should be an “Ace” spot ahead of the #1’s.

Shalesh
Member
Shalesh

When Nick Hostetler was hired as White Sox’s scouting director in 2015, he switched the team’s draft approach from toolsy gym heroes to hit-tool guys like Jake Burger in 2017. That’s sensible, we’ll see if the team can develop position players as well as they’ve developed pitchers over the years.

The team’s problem over the last decade has been having very little Latin American scouting and thus only selecting Micker Adolfo and Fernando Tatis (ouch!) in the J2 draft. They have made some big splashes in Cuba with Jose Abreu and Luis Robert, but these were the most famous amateur players at the time and required little scouting.

They also may be behind the curve on Major League scouting since they took Moncada, Giolito, and Blake Rutherford as trade headliners instead of Benintendi, Robles, and Miguel Andujar. Though through 4 games, Moncada looks really good so far this year.

It’s disappointing that this is all they have 2.5 years into a rebuild.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

Honestly, I’m not sure Benintendi and Robles were available. Maybe not Andujar either. I think they did about as well as they could with the Quintana trade, pretty well with the Sale trade, and not so well with the Eaton trade (the mega-reliever trade could have gone better too).

Shalesh
Member
Shalesh

You might be right. I know at the time the White Sox preferences seemed to align with MLBPipeline’s prospect rankings. As a fan, I liked them taking the highest-ranked guy each time, though Dave Cameron’s warning of these as risky prospects has proved prophetic. Maybe Moncada breaks through this year and Giolito becomes league-average and we’re feeling better about the trades.

I think the White Sox have had bad luck on 1st Rd picks as well with Carson Fulmer, Jake Burger, Zach Burdi, and Zach Collins not being very impressive so far.

I guess we needed a total-gut rebuild to not work out to balance the Astros & Cubs. I think as MikeS says that it can still work with a couple more top-5 picks and Moncada, Jimenez, Kopech, Giolito, and Cease reaching their potential. This was the only choice the White Sox had since their farm system couldn’t provide players to join the nucleus of Sale, Quintana, Eaton, and Abreu.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

The big issue seems to be more on the amateur acquisition side than the trades. For whatever reason, as you state, the international signings have not yielded much of anything, and the lower-level picks don’t seem to have done much either.

That said, looking back on it, I’m not so sure Collins and Fulmer were that bad in terms of picks. The guys taken directly after each of them haven’t turned into anything either, it’s not entirely fair to say “they shouldn’t have taken Fulmer at #8, they should have taken Buehler” when Buehler was taken #24 (OTOH, I do think you can drag them for picking him over Tyler Stepehenson at #11 or Ian Happ at #9, but that’s not as dramatic). For Collins, he was taken at #11 and you have to go to #15 (Alex Kirilloff) to get a guy clearly better than him, although at that point you’re looking at Kirilloff, Thaiss, Forrest Whitley, Justin Dunn, and Gavin Lux in short succession. And neither the Madrigal nor Rodon pick looked terribly crazy at the time. Yes, they could have done better, but those were kind of lousy drafts among the sorts of prospects considered in that range.

Zack Burdi was actually probably the most unfortunate pick of the bunch, since Carter Kieboom, Dane Dunning, Cole Ragans, and Anthony Kay all were picked right after him.

Shalesh
Member
Shalesh

I agree with you: they’ve had an absence of good luck than systematically making poor picks. There’s still time on Collins, Burdi, and Burger, so maybe they’ll be decent big-leaguers.

rhdx
Member
rhdx

The trades are also a question of volume. Could they have got just Robles? Quite possibly. But I think they ended up with 4 of the Nationals top 10 prospects from that trade so it seemed like they were getting quality and quantity. And even though the trade hasn’t yielded much value, it isn’t like keeping Eaton would have been any better.

jeffwave
Member
Member
jeffwave

I agree that the trade headliners – outside of Kopech – for Sale and Eaton are questionable and I think the Sox leadership sucks – but I have to believe they asked for Benintendi. They supposedly were going to take him before Boston drafted him. Also, as I recall, Moncada was the consensus #1 guy at the time and is still young. I do recall questions about Giolito and throwing in Tatis for Shields is a fire-able offense.

The farm depth seems pretty solid, but skepticism reigns until something good starts to happen.

mookie monster
Member
Member
mookie monster

It’s pure hindsight bias to suggest that Chicago did badly to get Moncada. He was indeed a consensus top 2 or 3 prospect in the entire league. This is just the risk with prospects. Sometimes they don’t pan out.

And strikeouts aside, there are a lot of teams who would kill to have their guys who “don’t pan out” putting up 2-win seasons as 23-year-old everyday players.