Top 38 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 my own 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 resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

White Sox Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Luis Robert 22.7 AAA CF 2020 60
2 Michael Kopech 24.0 MLB RHP 2020 60
3 Andrew Vaughn 22.1 A+ 1B 2021 55
4 Nick Madrigal 23.1 AAA 2B 2020 55
5 Dane Dunning 25.4 AA RHP 2020 45
6 Jonathan Stiever 23.0 A+ RHP 2022 40+
7 Zack Collins 25.2 MLB C 2020 40+
8 Yermin Mercedes 27.2 AAA DH 2020 40+
9 Codi Heuer 23.8 AA RHP 2021 40+
10 Micker Adolfo 23.6 AA RF 2020 40+
11 Matthew Thompson 19.7 R RHP 2024 40
12 Andrew Dalquist 19.5 R RHP 2024 40
13 Zack Burdi 25.1 AAA RHP 2020 40
14 Danny Mendick 26.6 MLB SS 2020 40
15 Blake Rutherford 23.0 AA LF 2020 40
16 Luis Gonzalez 24.6 AA RF 2020 40
17 Benyamin Bailey 18.6 R RF 2024 40
18 Jose Rodriguez 19.0 R SS 2023 40
19 Yolbert Sanchez 23.2 R SS 2025 40
20 Gavin Sheets 24.0 AA 1B 2020 40
21 Konnor Pilkington 22.6 A+ LHP 2021 40
22 Luis Alexander Basabe 23.7 AA CF 2020 40
23 Tyler Johnson 24.7 AA RHP 2020 40
24 Seby Zavala 26.7 MLB C 2020 40
25 Jake Burger 24.1 A 3B 2021 35+
26 Bryan Ramos 18.1 R 3B 2023 35+
27 Lency Delgado 20.9 R 3B 2023 35+
28 Lenyn Sosa 20.3 A SS 2022 35+
29 Ian Hamilton 24.9 MLB RHP 2020 35+
30 James Beard 19.6 R CF 2024 35+
31 Zach Thompson 26.5 AAA RHP 2020 35+
32 DJ Gladney 18.8 R 3B 2024 35+
33 Bryce Bush 20.4 A RF 2022 35+
34 Alec Hansen 25.6 AA RHP 2021 35+
35 Jimmy Lambert 25.4 AA RHP 2020 35+
36 Johnabiell Laureano 19.6 R CF 2023 35+
37 Caleb Freeman 22.2 A RHP 2023 35+
38 Luis Mieses 19.9 R CF 2022 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 65/65 50/60 70/70 60/70 60/60

Not only was Robert finally healthy throughout 2019 (thumb and hamstring issues cost him most of 2018), but he and the White Sox made successful changes to his swing and his power production skyrocketed. The changes, based on my notes, are subtle. A narrower base, a little bit deeper load to the hands, and a front side that stays closed a little longer. These are relatively small tweaks to a swing that is comically simple, but the results — his 2018 groundball rate was between 44-50% depending on the level, while his 2019 rates were 26-32% — were astounding. It’s terrifying that Robert can generate the kind of power he does with such a conservative stride back toward the pitcher, and it juxtaposes with many of the movement-heavy swings that have been pervasive throughout baseball since Josh Donaldson and José Bautista broke out.

Robert does have plate discipline issues. He chases a lot of breaking balls out of the zone and it took a lot of convincing from industry folks to move him as high on my Top 100 as I did even though Robert has the surface-level traits that tend to make me irrationally excited. He has one of the best physiques in pro sports, he’s a plus-plus runner, and his instincts in center field are terrific. The power production and OBP may be somewhat limited by the approach, very similarly to how Starling Marte’s have been, but Marte is a 60, so here we are.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Mt. Pleasant HS (TX) (BOS)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 50/55 40/45 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, he walked just four batters, and was similarly efficient in his first few big league outings. But in his final start, the Tigers shelled him and his velocity was down; an MRI revealed he 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 following year, and indeed, Kopech didn’t throw in a game environment until the 2019 instructional league. His first fastball in the fall? Ninety-nine miles per hour, and he sat 94-99 on the Camelback Ranch backfields.

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 it does not.

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cal (CHW)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/65 45/60 65/65 30/30 40/45 45/45

So polished and consistent was Vaughn that even though he provides little defensive value and had a “down” junior year (yes, .374/.539/.704 was well below Vaughn’s .402/.531/.819 Golden Spikes sophomore campaign), the entire amateur side of the industry loved him. Vaughn started seeing a lot of breaking balls once conference play began — about 15% fewer fastballs to be more exact. He was pitched around and unable to make as much impact contact, but all the tools were still there. Vaughn has a very selective approach, letting strikes he can’t drive pass him by unless he has to put a ball in play, a skill I compared before the draft to Paul Konerko’s (I mentioned this to a Special Assistant who scoffed and said he thought Vaughn was way better). He has a very athletic swing despite being decidedly unathletic in every other way, enabling all fields power and high rates of contact.

There’s no margin for error for right-handed hitting first baseman, but if there’s one prospect to be confident in hitting as much as is necessary to profile at first, it’s someone with this combination of visual evaluation and statistical track record. Vaughn’s post-draft TrackMan data is also supportive, and suggests he could be a .300/.400/.500 hitter. How fast he comes up and where he plays when he arrives (it’s 1B/DH but José Abreu exists, Edwin Encarnación is on a one-year deal, Eloy Jiménez might have a DH body soon, Micker Adolfo already does, and Nomar Mazara was added this winter) will be dictated by those around him.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (CHW)
Age 23.1 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/70 45/45 30/30 70/60 60/60 50/50

Madrigal had the lowest swinging strike rate in the minors last year at a miniscule 2.2% — only Luis Arraez (2.8%) came close to that in the big leagues. Short players have short swings and Madrigal is no exception. He pulled and lifted the ball more last season than he did the year before, but unless the big league baseball is particularly kind to about a dozen of Magic Man’s wall-scraping fly balls, he doesn’t project to hit for more than doubles power. That’s fine, though. Second base has the lowest league-wide wRC+ of all the non-catching positions right now and several punchless contact hitters have had good careers (Arraez was a 2 WAR player in 90 games, Joe Panik was a 50 FV, etc.), and most all of them are nowhere near the runner or defender that Madrigal is — he has some of the fastest hands I’ve seen around the bag, and he’s going to steal outs because of how quickly he turns feeds from Tim Anderson around to first base. He doesn’t have a high ceiling because of the lack of power but I consider Madrigal a low-variance, above-average regular at second.

45 FV Prospects

5. Dane Dunning, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (WAS)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
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 a good blend of size and athleticism. He took a big step forward during his freshman year at Florida, though the rest of the talent on that pitching staff pushed him to a bullpen/midweek/spot starting role for much of his career. The industry still valued him in the first round by the time he was a junior, and Washington selected him 29th overall in 2016, before trading him that winter for eventual title contributor Adam Eaton.

Dunning had a very strong 2017, when his prospect value hit its pinnacle; he was viewed as a near-ready No. 4 starter and a core part of Chicago’s rebuild. Then he missed the second half of 2018 with an elbow strain and tore his UCL during 2019 spring training, which required surgery. He was slated to be back midway through 2020 and in late February was throwing live BP, during which his fastball velo sat in the low-90s. He’s thrown side sessions since baseball’s shut down. It’ll have to involve backfield rehab outings during whatever weird, abbreviated season we’re about to have, but I think it’s likely Dunning plays some kind of role on the staff this year, even if it’s just as a spot starter. His long-term outlook is that of a no. 4/5 starter.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Indiana (CHW)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 55/60 40/45 45/55 92-95 / 97

During 2019 spring training and the early part of the season, Stiever’s fastball sat in the 89-92 range. As the temperature climbed, so too did Stiever’s velocity, and he started pounding the zone with 92-95, peaking at 97. In a season split between Low- and Hi-A, Stiever struck out 154 hitters and walked just 27 in 145 innings and became one of the org’s better starting pitching prospects. The velocity (assuming it holds), Stiever’s plus curveball, and his strike-throwing ability all already fit a big league bullpen role, and potentially a significant one if one-inning, max-effort outings enable more velocity. For Stiever to profile as a league-average starter, his slider and/or changeup need to improve. Those two pitches were slated to be a developmental focus for the right-hander this season, but we didn’t get a look at them during the spring because Stiever was shut down with a forearm soreness.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Miami (CHW)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 65/65 45/55 20/20 35/35 50/50

He remains a frustrating defensive catcher who the team need only live with in a part-time capacity now that Yasmani Grandal is in Chicago, but Collins has some impact offensive ability. Both his elite approach (a 19% career walk rate since his freshman year at Miami) and power still exist and drive what should be a valuable part-time role as a first baseman, (bad) catcher, and DH. He and Yermin Mercedes are arguably redundant and project to play a similar role, with Collins’ lefty bat and the two year age difference between them driving me to order them like this.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 27.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/60 60/60 50/50 30/30 30/30 55/55

I believe Mercedes will one day be a Chicago sports cult hero. He’s highly entertaining and talented enough to play a relevant big league role despite being a total defensive misfit. Stout and beefy, Mercedes is built such that he looks ripped and fat at the same time. He has a needlessly noisy, punk rock swing (until he has two strikes, which I’ll get to) with a big leg kick and all kinds of pre-swing bat waggling, but it always pauses with Mercedes balanced, his hands in good position, ready to unload on the baseball, which he often does. Mercedes ditches the leg kick with two strikes, but he’s so strong that he puts balls in play — hard — without it.

His route to the precipice of the big leagues has been scenic. After three years with Washington, Mercedes was cut and spent 2014 in Indy ball, including time in the Pecos League with the White Sands Pupfish. Baltimore signed him and had him for two years before losing him to Chicago in the 2017 minor league Rule 5 Draft.

Mercedes has now hit his way up the ladder (a .302/.366/.491 career line, including those mediocre years with Washington that brought about his release) and has big league offensive ability — he just cannot catch. While he presents strikes to umpires well on occasion, he’ll also just totally whiffs sometimes and is constantly running to the backstop. Craig Littleman, a former coworker of mine who played for White Sands with Mercedes in 2014, told me even that team was trying to hide him on defense. He also said Mercedes was by far the team’s smartest, most talented hitter. I’m not anticipating Mercedes will be able to catch every day once automated strike zones come about, but I do think it gives him a better chance to do so once in a while and that he’ll hit enough as a DH/1B to play a part-time role anyway. Plus, he has real value as a trade chip if the universal DH is ever instituted. He’s a good, relevant hitting prospect despite his age.

9. Codi Heuer, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Wichita State (CHW)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 45/50 40/50 94-96 / 97

Similar to Orioles prospect Zach Pop and the Giants’ unkempt sidewinder Camilo Doval, Heuer presents hitters with an odd, low-slot look and also throws very hard for someone with that arm slot. His fastball has impact tailing movement — among the most lateral movement in the minors — and he also has a weird, high-spin changeup that could be plus. I think he has a shot to be a set-up type.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 255 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 70/70 50/60 40/40 40/40 50/50

Adolfo has been around for so long that even though he’s missed a lot of time due to injury, we still have a pretty good idea of what he is. Here’s the rundown: Adolfo missed most of 2015 due to a gruesome leg fracture, broke his hamate a month into 2016, played through an elbow injury that required Tommy John in 2018, then missed most of 2019 due to arthroscopic surgery on that elbow. Amid these long stretches of inactivity, Adolfo got big and buff (he nows tips the scales at a listed 255 — as a comical aside, Eloy Jiménez is listed at 205) but also pretty stiff, and while the White Sox have maintained that they’d like him to play the outfield, he’s one of several heavy-footed DH types on the 40-man.

Adolfo has the raw power to clear that (or any) offensive bar, but he’s had strikeout issues throughout his career and except for the last few, injury-riddled seasons (small sample alert), he’s been a hedonistic free swinger. He’s run close to an 11% walk rate in his last 550 plate appearances, which is double the rate he posted from 2014 to 2017. It would give him a better chance of playing a consistent role if that increase in patience is real and sustains. The power gives Adolfo a chance to have some 2019 Jorge Soler type seasons while his whiffs make him a high variance hitter likely to have several replacement-level campaigns as well. He’s younger than Collins and Mercedes but I’m more confident that their headlining skills will play in big league games.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Cypress Ranch HS (TX) (CHW)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 45/50 40/55 40/55 91-94 / 95

Thompson’s stuff didn’t take a step forward during his senior spring, but he was still sitting in the low-90s with average breaking stuff, and he has one of the most elegant deliveries in baseball. He’s a malleable, athletic developmental project with a realistic fourth starter outcome.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Redondo Union HS (CA) (CHW)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/55 40/50 40/55 91-93 / 95

Dalquist has a semi-projectable frame and a graceful, repeatable delivery. He’s been up to at least 94, but mostly sits 89-92 and has good feel for a slower, 12-6 curveball. His arm action portends a better changeup. The key variable here is the velo. If it comes, Dalquist has No. 4 starter upside. Pro workloads tend to disallow that, but Dalquist’s feel to pitch gives him a shot to be an effective starter even if he only ever sits 90-93.

13. Zack Burdi, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Louisville (CHW)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/45 50/50 40/40 92-96 / 97

Burdi’s velo continues to yo-yo, most recently in the right direction. Sitting 97-101 before surgery, 90-92 after, Burdi was back in the 94-96 range in his four 2020 spring innings before the shutdown. His slider quality also enjoyed a bit of a bounce back, though not anywhere near the knifing 2700 rpm version from its peak. The elite relief projection is gone without the elite velo, but Burdi is back to looking like a good middle relief piece.

Drafted: 22th Round, 2015 from UMass Lowell (CHW)
Age 26.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 40/40 35/40 50/50 45/45 50/50

Mendick had a strong, BABIP-driven cup of coffee late last year despite pretty lousy at-bat quality during that stretch. It was anomalous for the shortstop, who has been a disciplined, contact-oriented hitter for his entire minor league career. He lacks the power typical of an everyday player, even on the middle infield, but is ready to play a versatile bench role right now.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Chaminade Prep HS (CA) (NYY)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 45/50 50/50 50/50 40/40

Rutherford’s skillset is typical of a platoon corner outfielder, in his case the larger half of one thanks to his handedness. The Platonic ideal of this sort of player (45 FV) is Seth Smith, who I think has more raw power than Rutherford. Also, Rutherford’s swing is geared for low-ball contact, which is less useful in the game now than it was five or 10 years ago, as pitchers more often attack with velo at the top of the zone. For these reasons, I’ve rounded him down beneath the Smith archetype’s typical FV.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from New Mexico (CHW)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 30/35 55/55 45/50 50/50

Gonzalez and Rutherford are stacked next to one another yet again, both lefty-hitting bench outfield types with different hitting styles. Gonzalez has the better bat-to-ball skills. 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.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Panama (CHW)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/50 20/40 50/45 40/50 45/50

Bailey’s stats in the DSL should pique curiosity and cause one to dig on his tools, but they are not, on their own, very meaningful. He is a huge-framed, corner outfield projection bat with pretty advanced feel for contact, though. He’s a below-average athlete at present but perhaps has not fully grown into his body, a square-shouldered 6-foot-4. There’s not a ton of power projection on the body since Bailey is already 215, but there is some, which, combined with the feel for contact, puts Bailey in a tier above the other interesting teenagers in the 35+ FV tier, who mostly have one-note offensive profiles.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/40 55/55 40/50 50/50

Compact but punchy, Rodriguez has an interesting mix of playable power, speed, and defensive fit. His frame limits the power projection more than is typical for an 18-year-old, but he also has pretty advanced feel to hit. He has a shot to be a well-rounded regular.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 20/40 40/45 60/60 50/55 60/60

Sanchez is an above-average runner, defender, and thrower, but scouts aren’t completely sold on him offensively, projecting him as a gap-to-gap hitter with modest power. Baltimore had the trump card to sign him last year and wouldn’t top the rumored $2 million price he was offered to wait for July 2, 2019 when he signed with the White Sox. Visa issues kept him in the DSL for the rest of the summer, making it hard to learn anything new about him. He has utility infield projection based on reports from the international arm of the industry.

20. Gavin Sheets, 1B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (CHW)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 70/70 45/50 30/30 40/50 40/40

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 I’m skeptical will clear the offensive bar at first base without trading some contact for power, which hasn’t happened yet. He could be part of a first base platoon for a team that has great flexibility throughout the rest of the roster (Tampa Bay’s type) or someone’s pre-arb plug and play, especially because the White Sox have so many guys ahead of Sheets on the 1B/DH depth chart.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Mississippi State (CHW)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 228 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 40/45 50/50 45/50 45/55 88-92 / 94

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 in 2017. 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 and at least function as viable depth before eventually taking a turn as the fifth starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 50/50 35/45 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 2018 Arizona Fall League, then again throughout 2019. Basabe’s instincts in center field are not great, and he may be better suited for a corner despite his speed, which would make him the lesser half of a platoon since he’s better as a righty hitter than as a lefty.

23. Tyler Johnson, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from South Carolina (CHW)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 40/45 30/40 93-95 / 97

Because Johnson was hurt for most of the pre-deadline part of the 2019 season he wasn’t widely seen until the Fall League, where he struggled to throw strikes. Thompson is athletically built but doesn’t have an athletic delivery. He has a very casual, very terse stride that cuts him off and forces him to throw across his body. It’s weird and disorienting the first few times you see it, which makes the 93-95 fastballs Johnson throws catch you off guard. He’ll flash a plus breaking ball, but that was also inconsistent in Fall. He’s a 40 FV from a stuff and deception perspective, though industry feedback (the AFL look was bad) mostly had him in the tier beneath this one.

Drafted: 12th Round, 2015 from San Diego State (CHW)
Age 26.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 55/55 40/45 30/30 50/50 50/50

Seby is going to strike out a lot, so much that it will be detrimental to his offensive output relative to the average big leaguer, but that’s true of a lot of backup catchers. Zavala is a viable defensive catcher with above-average raw power, and I think he’d run into as many as 10 homers as a full-season backup. Where he sits among a crowded catching situation in Chicago depends on how the org views Mercedes and Collins defensively. He’s likely the third catcher during his option years and someone’s backup once those expire.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Jake Burger, 3B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Missouri State (CHW)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 60/60 40/55 30/30 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, a date that keeps getting pushed back because of stuff beyond anyone’s control.

26. Bryan Ramos, 3B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/55 25/50 50/45 40/50 60/60

This part of the system has a handful of interesting young hitters whose bonuses mostly fell in the mid-six figures. Several of them have an imposing physical presence, perhaps none more than Ramos. He is also the most reliable defensive infielder of this group and very likely to stay at third base, though the Sox also experimented with him at second during instructs after watching him operate around the bag during shift-related drills.

For his age, Ramos is already a sizable guy. Perhaps tricked by the way his fire engine red batting gloves stood out against Chicago’s black and grey instructional league threads, I thought he had the most explosive hands of the instructs group, and I like how bold his stride is, even though some of his swings are reckless. Ultimately, like the other hitters in this tier, he’s a risky corner prospect a long way from the big leagues.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Doral Academy Prep (FL) (CHW)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 30/50 50/45 40/50 60/60

Delgado is built like a top-heavy college linebacker, bigger and faster than a lot of same-aged college players in this year’s draft. His approach is a problem and it’s important that he learn to attack the right pitches because his bat control is also limited. He’s mostly played shortstop to this point but projects to third base long term. He’s a tools/body lottery ticket.

28. Lenyn Sosa, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (CHW)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/55 30/45 40/30 30/40 45/45

I like the way Sosa’s hands work in the box and think he has a good knack for finding the barrel even though he doesn’t have great bat speed. He’s not a very good second baseman and I wonder if he might end up adding a bunch of weight and power to counterbalance what he lacks in selectivity.

29. Ian Hamilton, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Washington State (CHW)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/45 45/45 40/40 93-96 / 98

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 fastball-heavy up/down relief.

30. James Beard, CF
Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Lloyd Star HS (MS) (CHW)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 30/40 20/35 80/80 40/70 40/40

As a hitter, Beard is more like a five o’clock shadow, one of the least-experienced hitters to appear on a team’s list this year. But of all the young hitters in this org, he has the greatest chance of staying up the middle because his speed almost guarantees he’ll stay in center field forever. He’s a half-decade dev project with the speed to be a leadoff pest.

31. Zach Thompson, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Texas-Arlington (CHW)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/60 40/45 35/40 90-94 / 95

Thompson had parts of two consecutive seasons, ’16-’17, when he struck out lots of hitters but still carried an ERA near 5.00. In 2018,that abated and he was dominant, quickly moving to Double-A. Last year, again, Thompson looked good from a stuff perspective but got hit around. His fastball/slider combination is 40 FV worthy but he just hasn’t performed like a slam dunk relief piece and the industry passed on him in the Rule 5.

32. DJ Gladney, 3B
Drafted: 16th Round, 2019 from Illiana Christian HS (IL) (CHW)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 50/60 25/55 40/40 30/40 50/50

Gladney presents an interesting case for splitting actual age away from other Traits of Maturity in draft models, since he was young for the class in age and reps (another possible Trait of Maturity), but not in body (a third). He’s a strong guy who strides way open as he tries to pull everything with power, an all-or-nothing approach. Like Bryce Bush before him, Gladney will be tried at third base for a while but may not stay there. He’s a high risk corner power prospect.

33. Bryce Bush, RF
Drafted: 33th Round, 2018 from De La Salle Collegiate HS (MI) (CHW)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/60 35/55 50/45 30/35 50/50

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, then struggled during the summer. 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 to first, which immediately makes his whiffs troublesome. He’s a high-risk, long-term developmental prospect with some of the louder offensive tools in the system.

34. Alec Hansen, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma (CHW)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 60/60 40/45 30/35 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, before collapsing again in 2018 when he was hurt for a time (forearm), and had more walks than innings pitched. It was more of the same in 2019 as Hansen, now in the bullpen, continued to struggle with walks and was eventually passed over in the Rule 5. That we’ve seen 94-97 with a plus breaking ball in the past means we may again, but the 2019 velo/command combo isn’t going to cut it.

35. Jimmy Lambert, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Fresno State (CHW)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
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 him 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. Lambert tore his UCL after 11 starts and needed Tommy John last June, which likely would have cost him all of 2020. He probably would have been close to Pilkington on the list without the injury and has similar role projection.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/50 20/50 55/50 40/50 45/50

Laureano had a huge 2019 repeating the DSL. He has a sizable frame, he runs well enough under way to continue playing some center field, and he generates good power on contact, though much of it is currently on the ground.

37. Caleb Freeman, RHP
Drafted: 15th Round, 2019 from Texas Tech (CHW)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 30/35 92-95 / 97

Freeman only threw 16 innings during his junior year at Lubbock, and they weren’t very good (he walked 15 guys). After he signed, Freeman was excellent. He sat 92-95 and touched 97 in rookie ball and flashed a plus breaking ball.

38. Luis Mieses, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 50/55 20/50 45/40 45/45 45/45

I’m staying on Mieses to some extent because I think he has freaky bat-to-ball ability that has thus far been made moot by excessive swinging.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Catching Depth (and Remillard)
Carlos Perez, C
Gunnar Troutwine, C
Ricardo Aguilar, C
Zach Remillard, SS

Perez, 23, has good bat-to-ball skills and arm strength but little power. He might be a third catcher. Troutwine is a tough dude with great feel for the strike zone. Aguilar just signed. He’s a converted infielder with a compact frame and contact-oriented approach. Remillard is upper-level depth capable of playing almost every position on the field.

High Probability Depth Arms
Andrew Perez, LHP
Matt Foster, RHP
Vince Arobio, RHP
Bernardo Flores, LHP

All of these pitchers are in their mid-20s. Perez needs to find a breaking ball, but he will touch 95 from the left side and his changeup is plus. So, too, is Foster’s; he is also up to 95 with a backspinning axis and relatively flat approach angle. Arobio has a high spin, backspinning fastball, too, but his angle is more downhill. He has the best breaking ball of this group. Flores is a four-pitch lefty with good breaking stuff and a 40 fastball.

Younger, Raw Pitching
Frander Veras, RHP
Davis Martin, RHP
Yoelvin Silven, RHP
McKinley Moore, RHP

Veras is 21 and spent 2019, his first pro season, in the DSL. He was up to 96 there and his changeup has late sinking action at times. Martin is another good Day Three pick out of Texas Tech. He sits 89-94 and has a plus slider. Silven was up to 95 as a 19-year-old in 2019 but his secondary stuff is in the 40/45 area right now. Moore is also arm strength-only right now but he’s a little older and bigger. He’s up to 98.

System Overview

This system remains top-heavy, with much of its oomph packed into the first couple prospects on the list rather than spread throughout the system. I was critical of the org’s ability to develop pitching in last year’s writeup as many of their arms had gone backward throughout 2017 and 2018, but 2019 (best exemplified by Lucas Giolito on the big club and Stiever on the farm) was better. What becomes of Dalquist and Thompson will be a terrific litmus test for the org’s direction since both are really athletic and seem capable of making adjustments. The org seems good at killing spin, as several of their pitchers have offspeed weapons, either splits or changeups, with very low spin compared to those on a lot of other teams.

The White Sox have not yet begun to move any of the players who make up their, uh, glut of big-bodied 1B/DH types, or who threaten to occupy that defensive space at some point soon. Here’s the list of players I think make up that group: Yermin Mercedes, Zack Collins, newly extended José Abreu, newly signed Edwin Encarnación, Micker Adoldo, Andrew Vaughn, Eloy Jiménez, Gavin Sheets, and (fingers crossed for him) Jake Burger. There’s not enough room for all of these guys but they all have value, so it makes sense several will be traded. Gavin Sheets’ 40-man timeline could mean he’s pried from the org for very little since they clearly don’t have room for him but his Rule 5 eligibility is coming.

The White Sox are perhaps the team that would most benefit from an International draft as they seem to sign players who become eligible later in the process, which is why they end up with a lot of Cuban players and signees who commit to deals several months after the signing phase opens. A draft would give them access to a player pool they don’t seem inclined to deal with right now — essentially, all the players who agree to deals well in advance of actually signing them.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Uncle Spike
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Uncle Spike

I know it’s a small sample size but if Kopech’s strides in control are real, I still contend that his ceiling is that of an ace and not #3 starter.

MikeS
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MikeS

This comes up every time and is mostly a matter of definitions. Eric defines an “ace” not as the best pitcher on the staff or even one of the 30 best pitchers in baseball but as: “Top 1-3 arms in baseball. ‘Ace’ if they do it several years in a row.” and being worth 7+ fWAR. These guys are overall 80FV’s. That’s a very high bar to clear. A number 3 is a 60FV worth 3.5 – 4.9 fWAR/year.

As far as his control goes, I’m also excited by the reduction in walks, but I don’t know how to square that with 5 HBP in 14.1 IP. None in that game against Detroit where he was hurt. He also hit 13 guys in 126 AAA IP in 2018. Those 18 HBP would have put him 1 behind Cole Hamels in 2018, but Hamels threw 50 more IP.

Uncle Spike
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Uncle Spike

The definition of ace can certainly be argued and even though I personally feel he still has ace ceiling upside, even given Eric’s definition. However, he is saying Kopech has “No. 3 starter ceiling”. Not sure if he also has a different defintion for a “No. 3 starter” but I would think that would mean the average third starter in a rotation. If that’s his celiing I imagine the expecation is he’s a #4 or 5. Perhaps I’m misinterpretting it but that would be vastly underestimating his potential IMO.

jonvanderlugt
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jonvanderlugt

If I were to hazard a guess at what Eric potentially means is that Kopech, while possessing the hellacious stuff required of true ace-level talents, probably cannot sustain the durability required for consistent 6-7 WAR seasons.

If he is only pitching an average of 140-160 innings a year, that caps his WAR output at around the level of a good #3.

Though perhaps given the steady change of IP requirements in starters, perhaps it will soon be worth revisiting what constitutes a 2 v 3 v 4.

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

What I find amazing is that Eric feels compelled to mention the “#3 starter upside” every single time with Kopech, so half the times it’s come up it’s come up with Kopech.

I find it incredibly frustrating that they have never directly addressed exactly why they labeled them this way. I get that they did by calculating deviations away in a normal distribution, but it still doesn’t explain the labels.

MikeS
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MikeS

It gets mentioned every time because the write up hasn’t changed, since little has changed with him in 20 months.

bighurt35
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bighurt35

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-new-fangraphs-scouting-primer/

Pitcher WAR Mapped to 20-80 Scale
20 Org Guy
30 Up & Down
40 Backend starters, FIP typically close to 5.00
45 #4/5 starters, FIP approx 4.20
50 #4 starters. Approx 4.00 FIP, at times worse but then with lots of innings
55 #3/4 starters. Approx 3.70 FIP along with about 160 IP
60 #3 starters, 3.30 FIP, volume approaching 200 innings
70 #2 starters, FIP under 3, about 200 IP
80 #1s. Top 1-3 arms in baseball. ‘Ace’ if they do it several years in a row

Uncle Spike
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Uncle Spike

Thanks Bighurt, this helps understand Eric rationale a bit more. I’m still a little confused though as Eric has Kopech graded as a 60 meaning that #3 starter is his expectation, not his ceiling. I would think he’s at least got #2 starter ceiling if not #1.