Cream of the Crop – White Sox Top 20 Farmhands

Header image courtesy of Clinton Cole (FutureSox, The Loop Sports, and South Side Sox). Follow Clinton on Twitter (@cdcole55) and listen to Clinton on the FutureSox podcast (www.chicagonow.com/future-sox/category/podcasts)

Alex and Brenden will be creating their own top 20 prospects per organization. The methodology is simple: they develop their own top 20’s, average them together, then have friendly arguments about who should be higher or lower. The next organization up for them to review is the Chicago White Sox.

1. Eloy Jimenez OF

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’4″ 205lb

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

I don’t think anyone is unfamiliar with Eloy. Traded across town with fellow stud Dylan Cease for Jose Quintana, Lamantha has done nothing but make Cubs Fans second guess that deal. The only real offensive knocks on Lamantha are a lack of speed and surprisingly low walk rates for a hitter with his power, but he also cut his k rate to 13.2% in AAA as a 21-year-old, so I’m not worried. The only real concern I have is his defense. The arm seemed to regress last year and he’s stiff and unathletic looking in the field. Looks left field only with DH only looming. But he’s also going be 22 all of next season and athleticism could easily bounce back. Either way, he’s an easy top 5 prospect overall who’s power and hit tool jump off his tape as easily as the ball jumps off of his bat. Really reminds me of the late-career Nelson Cruz.

Brenden’s Take – 

Jimenez was the number one prospect in the 2013 international class and was signed by the Cubs. He was traded to the White Sox in the Quintana deal in 2017. From an offensive standpoint, I don’t know what else needs to be said. He is poised to be an offensive juggernaut when he finally reaches the big leagues next year. Powerful swing with a leg kick that allows him to use his lower half with great rotation and top-tier bat speed. When he makes good contact the bat screams off the bat. He has an advanced feel at the plate and rarely swings and misses. The one thing you might be able to count off on him for is that he doesn’t take a lot of walks with BB% right around 7% last year between AA and AAA, but when you can hit the baseball like he can and lay off the bad pitches why walk? Walking would just take away all the fun you can have if you could swing the bat like Eloy. He isn’t the fleetest of foot so he won’t steal many bases or have great range in the OF. Luckily for him, he has a good throwing arm so while he can’t get to every ball, he has the arm to make up for it a bit. Eloy will never be a gold glover, nor is he likely to even be an average defender, but I think he will be adequate enough. That bat is something special and there is no doubt in my mind we have a potential All-Star right here that could hit .300 or more with 30+ bombs. No need to get cute with this team’s rankings when it comes to the number one spot.

Ceiling – .300+/.380/.600 30+ HR

Floor – .265/.340/.550 25+ HR

Expectation – .280-.290/.365/.600 30+ HR

Risk – Low

ETA – 2019


2. Michael Kopech RHP

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’3″ 205lb

Current Level – MLB

Alex’s Take – 

A common trend with White Sox prospects, Kopech is injured (Tommy John) and will miss 2019, but he still easily holds down the #2 spot on this list. I’ll admit, there was a point last year I was down on Kopech, the command, control, sequencing an changeup just didn’t seem to be coming around at all. But then something just seemed to click mid-way through the year. Suddenly the fastball was toned down for command, the change was mixed in, he started counts with the slider, control was improved etc and now I’m all in. His fastball, the toned down version, lives 96-99 with truly elite spin rates and he can dial up 102-103 if needed. Now he’s throwing it with command as well. The slider is a game over pitch when he’s on, one of the better offspeeds in the game and plays off of his heater to be even better. The changeup is inconsistent but flashes MLB average, which is all he needs. Scary injury, but everything about his profile screams potential ace. Just needs time and reps to refine. Really reminds me of young Max Scherzer when he was in Arizona, the ceiling is similar, which says it all.

Brenden’s Take – 

Kopech is the prototypical big Texas arm. He has a strong wiry frame that is perfect for a pitcher. He has a pretty involved motion, throwing from a 3/4 arm slot but is able to stay balanced and finishes with a strong left side to finish his motion against. He throws 4 pitches: Fastball, Slider, Curve, and a Changeup. The fastball is where the story starts with Kopech. He can hit 102 on the gun but has toned it down a bit to sit around 95-98 so he can control it better. The fastball has incredible life and at times is simply unhittable when he’s hitting his spots. The slider is also an above average pitch with good depth and has the potential to be a plus pitch for him. He recently added a curveball to his arsenal. It’s throwable but it’s a 45-grade pitch at best used to offset his inconsistent changeup as a change of speed pitch. The changeup is still a work in progress but in his brief MLB debut, it flashed plus potential. Kopech is one of the few pitchers in the minors that I feel like has true SP1 potential and unfortunately we won’t be able to lay eyes on him until 2020 because he underwent TJS in September. Injuries happen and the biggest thing Tommy John does is causes young pitchers to lose a year of crucial development and causes both mental and physical hurdles. I’m hoping he comes back to full strength because if healthy, he has all the makings of a bonafide ace.

Ceiling – SP 1

Floor – High Leverage Reliever

Expectation – SP 2

Risk – High

ETA – Debuted in 2018 but should recover for the 2020 season


3. Dylan Cease RHP

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’2″ 190lb

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Speaking of 100 MPH fastballs with absolutely devastating breaking balls and a fringy changeup that improved last year, let’s talk about Cease. Cease lives 94-98 with good sink and a little run on his fastball and can dial up 100 if needed. The fastball should be a rare high swing and miss rate and high GB rate offering. When it’s on, his hammer curve is probably the best curve in the minors and should be his strikeout pitch. It is somewhat inconsistent still, much like his changeup, which is middling and inconsistent, but just needs to be average to work well considering his other offerings. Delivery can get out of whack still and control is a mixed bag (as is command) but Cease made improvements across the board last year. In my eyes, he’s moved from likely a closer to a potential high end two. 2019 will be a big year for Cease, if he improves at a similar rate, he might be the year’s most talked about pitching prospect.

Brenden’s Take – 

Cease was drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 draft by the Cubs and was traded to the White Sox in the Quintana deal in 2017. Cease has dominated every stop in the minors so far but turned it up a notch in 2018 finishing the year in AA with a 1.72 ERA and averaging almost 13.5 K/9 while at AA (his first stint after starting the year in A+). He has a four-pitch mix: Fastball, Curve, Slider, and a changeup. Cease has a strong lower half and is able to throw his fastball in the mid 90’s and is able to touch triple digits with an easy motion. His 4 seamer seems to be effective up in the zone, and his 2 seam fastball has good armside sink and movement to it. The curveball is a 12-6 hook that can buckle knees and could be plus pitch. He does struggle to throw it for strikes at times. The changeup is an average pitch with some sinking action that keeps hitters honest. The slider is a project at a moment and I haven’t seen him throw it often, so it will be interesting if he can develop it. He already has had TJS so that is important to keep in mind but seems to have recovered well from it and maintaining his velocity. The control and command need to make some strides to become an above average starter in the league but there are some traits for a potentially great reliever if the rotation doesn’t work for him long term.

Ceiling – SP1/SP 2

Floor – High Leverage Reliever

Expectation – SP 2

Risk – High

ETA – 2019


4. Luis Robert OF

Age – 21

HT/WT –  6’3″ 185lb

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

I really like and want to love Luis Robert. He is a rare true 5 tool guy. The power hasn’t shown up in games yet, but there is high-end raw power there and the bat speed is lightning fast. As is his foot speed. He takes solid routes in the outfield, has an above average arm, shows good plate discipline, has flashed good hit tool, elite athlete with an ideal frame….butttt it just hasn’t translated to games yet. The speed and defense are there, I have no worries that the power will start showing and I saw a good hit tool in his AFL performance this year. But I have seen him be completely destroyed by low and outside spin. Like completely crippled by it. If he doesn’t make big improvements with spin, he could bust. But he could just as easily become a top 10 overall player. High risk, high reward with tons of possible outcomes, not a bad gamble if you’re feeling risky.

Brenden’s Take – 

Robert was signed out of Cuba for a franchise J2 record of $26M in 2017. His swing consists of small stride with his quick wrists coming through the zone with terrific power. Luis Robert has an ideal athletic frame. He has every tool you want in a prospect like him, and every single tool is raw and needs refining. The raw power is plus, the throwing arm is plus, and his running speed is plus (potentially plus-plus). What isn’t there to like? His approach at the plate is unrefined and there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game right now. He has the typical issues that Cuban players generally show when the defect. You know the old baseball saying, “you can’t walk out of Cuba” and that holds true with Robert. He will need plenty of time to develop his offensive game and his defensive abilities. He has the tools to be a plus defender as well but needs more reps to work on his routes and overall defensive play. Robert’s ceiling is incredibly high but the floor is also dangerously low as he still has a long ways to go before he will be able to compete with major league pitching.

Ceiling – .270/.350/.500 25/30

Floor – Doesn’t make an impact at the Major League Level

Expectation – .250/.335/.470 20/25

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2020


5. Dane Dunning RHP

Age – 23

HT/WT –  6’4″ 200lb

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

In stark contrast to the two arms above him, Dunning is a polished pitcher with low 90’s heat, two solid but unspectacular offspeed offerings, and plus control. Much like the arms above him, he has questionable elbow health and was shut down as a result of it last year, though he figures to be ready for 2019. Dunning shows 60-grade heat that lives 90-93 with heavy sink and can hit up to 96. Slider has good depth and changeup mimics his fastball delivery, both combining with his heat to produce high GB rates, always a plus for me. Good control and improving command. High floor and above average ceiling, though not in the same ballpark as Cease or Kopech, likely SP3. Could reach majors next year (assuming health is ok).

Brenden’s Take – 

Dunning was drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 draft by the Nationals and was acquired by the White Sox in the Adam Eaton deal (same one that brought over Giolito and Lopez who are both in the majors now, despite their early struggles). Dunning has four pitches that he throws: Fastball, slider, curveball, and a changeup. The low 90’s sinker and his slider are his best pitches, both showing plus ability. The sinker shows great armside sink and is a great pitch at the bottom of the zone that misses barrels. The slider has good tilt and depth and compliments his sinker well. The curve and changeup are also average to slightly above average offerings. He has a wiry frame that is pretty close to maturity. The motion has a big leg kick and tries to get good extension to increase his perceived velocity. The control seems to struggle at times, averaging 3.34 BB/9 in his first stint at AA. He had an elbow sprain in June that did not require surgery but missed the rest of the season with the injury, so this could be something to watch for down the road. He will most likely become a contact-oriented mid-rotation guy at the majors but think he’s a safe bet to reach that potential. At worst he’s a ground ball specialist in the pen.

Ceiling – SP 2/SP 3

Floor – Ground ball specialist in the pen

Expectation – SP 3

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2020


6. Nick Madrigal 2B/SS

Age – 21

HT/WT –  5’7″ 165lb

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

I’m usually the low guy on Madrigal in the room. He’s a plus defender at 2B, had a heroic college career and has one of the better contact tools I’ve ever seen, plus elite plate discipline. He earns every bit of praise those tools get. I just don’t think he will be able to get the most out of them. I don’t see him ever having enough power to max them out. I’ve seen his exit velo data from the Pac-12 last year aaaand it was alarming. It was mirrored in what I saw in the pros last year. He just doesn’t drive the ball at all, he creates “contact”. With better defenders, I don’t think he would have had a double in his minors debut. The swing, like him, is short and compact but just isn’t generating enough power. And I don’t see room on his frame for good weight gain. He’s coming off of a wrist injury, so maybe that’s totally sapping him. I hope so because he’s easy to root for. But I also think his speed is being oversold. I love his instincts, but pure speed looks more 50 to me, not 60. This isn’t a ‘little guys don’t have power’ take. Luis Santana, for example, has pop at Madrigal’s size. But to me, I don’t think Madrigal will have the power to fully utilize his hit tool or plate discipline fully. The very easy comp for me is pre-2018 Max Schrock but with a little less pop.

Brenden’s Take – 

Madrigal was drafted 4th overall in the 2018 draft by the White Sox. Madrigal was a fantastic college player at Oregon State and even at 5’7″ was drafted as a top ten player. His calling card is his hit tool. His ability to consistently barrel up every baseball he hits is second to none. This is the type of hit tool that could win batting titles at the major league level eventually, that is how good it is. I’m a tad concerned with his inability to take a walk, but when you didn’t strike out for the first 70 ABs of your career it’s hard to complain about that. He is a good fielder with quick hands but doesn’t have the arm to play SS at the MLB level, but should make an above average 2B defensively. The speed is good and he shows good instincts on the base paths that should lead to some SB.

My biggest concern with Madrigal is his power. He couldn’t even get close to .100 ISO in his professional debut and his frame is pretty maxed out physically. I know there are a lot of shorter players who have been able to hit for more power than expected at the major league level (Albies, Pedroia, Altuve, etc.) but I don’t expect Madrigal to follow in their path. He has enough power to hit it into the gaps for doubles and triples but I’m not sure I can even project 10 homers at the major league level. Power is getting harder and harder to project nowadays with teams being able to maximize each player’s potential, and players with plus hit tools always seem to outhit their power projections so Madrigal very well could. With that said, best case scenario is he might hit 15 a year or two (I seriously doubt it) but should steal enough bases and contend for a batting title or two before it’s all done.

Ceiling – .320/.370/.420 15/20

Floor – .280/.330/.390 3/10

Expectation – .300/.350/.400 8/15

Risk – Low

ETA – 2020


7. Alec Hansen RHP

Age – 24

HT/WT –  6’7″ 235lb

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

If you took a look at Kopech and Cease and thought to yourself “The ceiling is too low and the floors are too high”, then Alec Hansen is your guy. Call me crazy, but his ceiling is somehow higher than Kopech’s. Like Kopech, Hansen clearly has a torn UCL. Unlike Kopech, they didn’t sign him up for surgery, in what was for me the most frustrating management decision of the year. Book him for surgery in 2019 and look for him mid-2020. You can write off 2018 as he pitched nearly every start with a partially torn UCL. But that doesn’t mean the control issues aren’t real. Like most 6’7″ mammoth humans, Hansen gets out of sync in his delivery, which is high effort and bullpen concerns are real. Unlike most humans, Hansen has a fastball that lives 95-97 with elite life and hits 99 MPH, two genuine plus to double plus breaking balls and a change that flashes 50. Each pitch plays up because of his extension and plane he creates. When he’s on his game, he’s truly unhittable and the ceiling is behind only Forrest Whitley. When he’s off it, the strike zone seems truly unhittable and the floor is very low. Are you feeling lucky? Are ya?

Brenden’s Take – 

Hansen was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft by the White Sox out of Oklahoma. He was once poised to be the number one overall draft pick but a terrible Junior season where he was demoted to the pen, his stock dropped immensely. The White Sox quickly snatched him up in the second and went to work reworking his confidence by starting him in rookie ball. He dominated the lower levels facing little resistance until he was promoted to AA in 2017. He didn’t start the season until the middle of June due to forearm soreness (RED FLAG) and struggled so much in AA that he was later demoted to A+ where he didn’t fare much better but his struggles were most likely due to a UCL tear that will need to be operated on eventually.

Hansen has a large frame at 6’7″ and uses it to get downhill with his delivery using a big leg kick. In my opinion, Hansen’s delivery is rigid and he doesn’t seem to be an upper tier athlete and that makes it very difficult for him to repeat his delivery. Four pitch mix: Fastball, Curve, Slider, and a changeup. The fastball is firm sitting in the mid 90’s with good arm side life. He throws a plus curveball that is his main out pitch with sharp break. The slider is a newer offering that’s more of a show-me pitch while the changeup has developed into an average offering. As I mentioned, he has troubles repeating his delivery which affects his ability to throw for strikes (as shown by his BB/9 around 10!!! in 2018). There are also a lot of reports that indicate that he doesn’t have a short memory on the mound and it will affect him for stretches. Hansen probably has the highest upside of any arm in this system besides Kopech but the red flags for me are too great to ignore and I am not confident he will reach that ceiling.

Ceiling – SP 1

Floor – Middle Relief/Organizational depth

Expectation – SP 3

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2020


8. Zack Collins C

Age – 23

HT/WT –  6’3″ 220lb

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Have you ever owned Mike Zunino and thought, “if only he took walks too?” Then Collins is your guy. Collins is not the minor league hitter or defender that Zunino was, but he’s a plus framer who’s improved (though still raw behind the plate) and has a decent arm. He’s always going to be an extremely high k-rate guy, which will combine with his lack of speed to create a low avg, but he takes his walks at an extreme rate and has legitimate home run power. With Omar Narvaez gone and Seby Zavala seeming like a hit first backup, Collins could be up for a good portion of 2019 and if the power and OBP play in the pros, he could be useful. Just don’t expect a high average.

Brenden’s Take – 

Collins was drafted 10th overall by the White Sox in the 2016 draft. Collins path to the majors will be that of an offensive-minded catcher. His defensive skills are average at best with his receiving skills and pitch framing being reported as below average by several outlets (I’ll be honest I’m not great at determining which catchers are good at framing and which are not, so I’m going to defer this to the reports rather than giving my thoughts). The tool that will carry Collins is his power. He has plus raw power with his frame and quick hands but unfortunately has a well below average hit tool. He has a lot of movement with his hands and hard fastballs tend to give him trouble. He does have a great eye and has BB% often around 20% in the minors but also has K% often approaching 25-30% too. The best case scenario for Collins is to get that hit tool to where he can hit about .240ish at the Major League level with power and take his walks which would make him a full-time offensive-minded starting catcher.

Ceiling – .245/.425/.460 20/0 Full Time Starting Catcher

Floor – .220/.400/.430 10/0 Platoon/Backup Catcher

Expectation – .235/.415/.450 15/0 Full Time Starting Catcher

Risk – High

ETA – 2019


9. Luis Alexander Basabe OF

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’0″ 160lb

Handedness – S/R

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Another part of the Chris Sale deal, Basabe is the only true CF on this list (Luis Robert is capable but profiles better in RF long-term) which gives him a leg up for playing time, especially in a system stock full of corner OF bats and thinking of signing Bryce Harper. Like Robert, he struggles with offspeed swing and miss, but shows the ability to take a walk. While his tools don’t overwhelm offensively, he has plus plus speed and surprising pop for a guy his size, which he showed blasting 102 mph heat from Hunter Greene in the Futures Game. With his plus defense likely earning him at-bats in the future, Basabe seems like a threat to hit .250 with high walk rates and 20/20 upside, in what should be a stacked future lineup.

Brenden’s Take – 

Luis Alexander Basabe was acquired by the White Sox in the deal that sent Chris Sale to the Red Sox. Basabe projects to be a player that affects both sides of the field. Should be a plus defender in CF with a strong arm and good range. Offensively he’s still a work in progress when it concerns his hit tool but has average raw power with plus speed to impact the game with. He has shown good plate discipline with the ability to take a walk (11.1 BB% in AA this past year) which should at least give him an opportunity to steal bases. He still needs work on the basepaths as he was only 16 for 28 in SB attempts this past year. He has also shown good pop, hitting 15 homers across two levels in 2018. There is a decent chance Basabe becomes a better real-life player than fantasy but I think he will be able to contribute enough counting stats to be a viable fantasy option. I peg him as a 15 HR/15+ SB type player and I think he could become a good top of the order hitter.

Ceiling – .260/.370/.480 15/20 Starter

Floor – .240/.355/.420 5/10 4th OF

Expectation – .250/.365/.450 10/20 Starter

Risk – High

ETA – 2019


10. Blake Rutherford OF

Age – 21

HT/WT –  6’3″ 195lb

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

“Blake the Snake” is a case of a guy with a lot to like but not a lot to love. A threat to go 1-1 in the 2016 draft, Rutherford fell to 18th surprisingly and didn’t impress in ’16 or ’17, but did flash tools that started to show up in games in 2018. Rutherford profiles at a corner spot defensively, which will make playing time tough in this system, but he does everything well. He has decent speed and future pop, above-average hit tool with fine discipline, decent arm with decent routes. No real wow tool, but no weakness either and the hit tool is above average.

Brenden’s Take – 

Rutherford was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft by the Yankees and was traded to the White Sox in the Frazier, Robertson, and Kahnle deal in 2017. Rutherford is another type of player who has average to above-average tools across the board. I’m a big fan of his left-handed stroke and he shows the ability to hit the ball to all fields. His power is still developing as he hits most of his home runs to the pull side, but I’m not as certain his power will develop enough to the point where he will be hitting homers to the opposite field with ease. He has average speed but has a great knack at stealing bases regardless, so he could contribute 10+ SB at the major league level. Defensively he’s an average OF that can play all three spots but fits much better in the corners. I see an MLB regular that contributes some power and speed but will likely not be a stud.

Ceiling – .280/.350/.440 15/10

Floor – .250/.325/.400 8/5 4th OF

Expectation – .275/.340/.440 15/8

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2020


11. Jake Burger 3B

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’2″ 210lb

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

I really like Jake Burger. Like every player on the list thus far besides Rutherford, Burger has dealt with a major injury (torn left Achilles). But from my research, it appears that as long as it’s the front foot of your stance, Achilles injuries are able to be overcome. Good thing it was his left leg! Defensively, I think he can stick at 3B, with a 55 arm and good instincts, decent range and a great work ethic. He has huge pop, hitting over 20 bombs his SO and JR years of college. In his pro debut, he displayed a small sample of a high GB-rate for a pull power type hitter (with bad HR luck) so he may have to alter his swing a bit. But a .260 hitter with 25-30 home runs seems well within reach here, assuming he recovers fully.

Brenden’s Take – 

Burger was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft. Jake Burger’s game is going to revolve around his bat. Defensively he will never be stellar with his thick lower half. He has the arm required to play 3rd and by early reports was working hard on his conditioning to stay at 3rd defensively. A move to 1B in the future isn’t out of the question with him. He generates easy power using his strong lower half and the ball just flies off the bat with limited effort it feels like. He is able to stay balanced and should have no problem hitting for average as well. Unfortunately, Burger tore his Achilles and missed the entire 2018 season, and that has caused me to pause on the praise. Achilles is a major injury and he will need to be monitored closely next season to see how he has recovered from it. If he recovers completely, I can easily see a .260-.270 hitter with plus power at his peak.

Ceiling – 270/350/525 35/5

Floor – 230/290/400 15/0

Expectation – 260/330/485 28/3

Risk – High/Moderate

ETA – 2021


12. Micker Adolfo OF

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’3″ 200lb

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

If you like raw power, you’ll like Adolfo. 70-grade arm strength and 70-grade raw pop. Like everyone in the system, Adolfo has been shut down each season in the minors for injuries. 2018 was due to the rare hitter who needed Tommy John, but he’s expected to be back for 2019. However, the injuries might help explain why he’s so raw as a player. Micker has always been an extremely high K-rate player, and still is, but he made major strides in the plate discipline department with a jump to A+ last year, which is a very very good sign. If it all comes together, Adolfo can be a prototype RF with 25-30 bombs, a .265 average and an arm that makes a difference. But the floor is very low and there have been make-up concerns in the past.

Brenden’s Take – 

Adolfo was signed out of the Dominican in 2014 by the White Sox. He has one major tool and that is his plus-plus raw power. He has struggled to translate it into games throughout his professional career so far due to issues with his hit tool and plate discipline but in 2018 made great strides. That is until he had to go under the knife for that dreaded Tommy John Surgery in July. Luckily he’s not a pitcher so the rehab should be much shorter and could potentially play next year. He projects to be an average RF with average to slightly below average speed with a plus arm (which we will need to reevaluate after he comes back from TJS to see if that’s still the case). The major thing in his development is if he can keep refining his plate discipline and developing his hit tool so that his power can translate into games. He was making good progress before the injury so I am interested to see him after he comes back, could be a potential 25+ HR bat.

Ceiling – 280/350/515 30/5

Floor – Never Reaches MLB

Expectation – 250/310/445 23/3

Risk – High

ETA – 2021


13. Luis Gonzalez OF

Age – 23

HT/WT –  6’1″ 185lb

Handedness – L/L

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

Chronically underrated, Luis Gonzalez is the 4th outfielder you dream of. Smooth lefty stroke with a line drive approach, good contact and discipline, 10/10 profile and the ability to play all 3 outfield spots, including center with an above average arm. More quick than fast and more gap than over the fence power, but you can plug him into your lineup whenever you need him and feel good about it.

Brenden’s Take – 

Gonzalez was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft by the White Sox. Gonzalez is another gamer type of OF similar to Rutherford where he plays the game well but doesn’t have standout tools. He has a quick swing and often is able to barrel up the baseball. There is a belief that more power will come but he seems content with trying to hit for good contact and letting the power come from it. Defensively he can play CF and he has solid range and a strong arm (has a background pitching so not surprising). Good speed that should net him some bags and with his good baseball instincts should play up. I see a potential high average hitter with a decent power/speed profile that could be a mid-range starting OF at his peak.

Ceiling – 295/355/440 15/15

Floor – 250/290/390 7/7

Expectation – 270/335/410 11/9

Risk – Low

ETA – 2020


14. Jimmy Lambert RHP

Age – 24

HT/WT –  6’2″ 170lb

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Lambert is an exceedingly rare breed in the White Sox system, a mid-level starter. Unlike his brother (Peter Lambert of the Rockies) he doesn’t come with much fanfare, but he has just gotten better each year with the Sox. Lambert throws a 92-94 mph fastball that he locates well and can ramp up to 96, but doesn’t have great life. He mixes that with a solid curve that played up last year, a decent slider and an average change. What sets Lambert apart was the ability he showed last year to locate and sequence his pitches. He uses his offspeed stuff to set up his heat, which makes him a much better pitcher than his surface level stuff. Like all other Sox, he was shut down late last year with an oblique injury, but was back looking good in instructs. Could be a guy to keep an eye on next year.

Brenden’s Take – 

Lambert was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 draft by the White Sox. He is the older brother of Rockies pitching prospect Peter Lambert. Lambert is another example of advanced stats helping pitchers. In college, the word pitchability got thrown around with him because of his average stuff but his ability to use all 4 pitches (2-seam, slider, curveball, and changeup) with the ability to command them. Unfortunately, after dominating the lower levels due to him being more advanced he struggled as he started facing higher level competition. This changed when the trackman data came in and the player development staff got a hold of him. They told him to ditch the 2 seamer and throw more 4 seamers because of the spin rate and to also throw more curveballs because it was the better pitch than the slider. So now he works up in the zone with a 92-94 mph 4 seamer (compared to 88-91 with the 2 seamer than was very hittable) and a curveball that flashed plus at times. He still throws the changeup which also flashed above average. This is a pitcher I think is getting slept on a bit but has been able to make key adjustments that give him potential mid-rotation stuff.

Ceiling – SP3

Floor – Spot Starter

Expectation – Sp4

Risk – Medium

ETA – 2020


15. Gavin Sheets 1B

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’4″ 230lb

Handedness – L/L

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

A legacy guy, son of Larry Sheets, Gavin put up historic numbers at Wake Forest in 2017, leading to him being an expensive second round pick, which he followed up by a pro debut that could be described as “fine” and followed that up with a 2018 that could be described as “decent’ or “injury free”. The flashy power just hasn’t translated to the pros yet..like at all. Which is fine since he’s hit and shown discipline with a healthy serving of doubles. But you expect more out a $2 million advanced college 1B only prospect than 6 home runs in a full year. I think more power will come, but he looks like a .270/15 guy, which doesn’t really move the needle at 1B.

Brenden’s Take – 

Sheets was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. Sheets is the son of former big leaguer Larry Sheets, who is best remembered for playing for the Orioles and his 31 home run season in ’87. Coming out of Wake Forest the common belief was he has a ton of raw power but questions about his hit tool. He seems to have answered the question regarding his hit tool but the power seems to have disappeared. In 2018 at A+ ball he was able to hit .293 while only striking out 16.3% of the time, so the hit tool has developed nicely. His power, on the other hand, has not played as advertised with only 6 homers this past season and posting a .114 ISO. His frame hasn’t changed (still a strong body build) but it seems like he has adopted a contact-oriented approach. Which is fine but when you are defensively stuck at 1B because of well below average speed, you need to show some power at the position. I’m hoping he is able to adjust and hit for more power while not sacrificing his newly found hit tool because that would be his best path to the majors and could be an above-average 1B with a blend of average and power.

Ceiling – 290/350/500 29/1

Floor – 250/300/400 10/0

Expectation – 270/335/440 15/1

Risk – Low

ETA – 2020


16. Jonathan Stiever RHP

Age – 21

HT/WT –  6’2″ 205lb

Current Level – R

Alex’s Take – 

Stiever is one of my personal favorites in this system. A HS football STAR from a cold weather state (Wisconsin All-State at both WR and DB), Stiever has been a bit behind the developmental curve so far. But he brings some of the best athleticism you will see to the mound and is a major competitor. The rare 6-1 pitcher who no doubt will stick in the rotation. I saw him on the Cape last year and loved his athletic delivery with what was plus plus control on the mound. College tape is hard to find, but from when I saw him on the Cape to now, he’s made major strides in his command and added some velo. He lives 92-94 (up to 96) with a hard sinking and running fastball he commands well and should mow the grass with grounders. He shows 55 and flashes 60 with a spike curve that should be his strikeout pitch, while again raising GB rates and he has a changeup that seems advanced for a cold weather football star. He clearly shows high spin rates on his pitches, major athleticism, good make up and great competitiveness on the mound. Was higher on my personal list. Should be a good command and GB rate guy, with good control. A lot to like here as he gets to more advanced levels.

Brenden’s Take – 

Honestly, I don’t know much about Stiever and there isn’t a lot of tape on him. Most reports have him as a potential back of the rotation guy with average stuff that plays up with good command. He has a repeatable delivery so I see no potential problems with command or control. This is a guy where I’m going to defer to my partner’s judgment. Juicy is pretty high on him and has seen him and person and believes there is more a strikeout game than is reported with him, which is backed up by his professional debut in rookie ball this season posting a K/9 over 12. For now, I’m going to defer to my boy Juicy but best believe when better tape becomes available to hear my full opinion of him, and I’m hopeful I can echo Juicy’s sentiments.

Ceiling – SP3

Floor – Groundball RP/ Pinch Runner

Expectation – SP4

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2021


17. Steele Walker OF

Age – 22

HT/WT –  5’11” 190lb

Handedness – L/L

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

Now for a guy I’m a bit lower on. Walker was a big name and big bat at Oklahoma in a star-studded outfield that featured Kyler Murray. In 2017, he had a pretty sweet swing that resulted in a lot of hard contact. In 2018, it just wasn’t as dynamic of a swing (possibly due to an oblique injury he played through). I’m always a bit wary of “advanced” college bats who strikeout much more than they walk in hitters environments like the Big 12, which Walker did and his 23% K and 6% BB-rates in A-Ball, along with .186/.246/.310 slash line in a level he should have been able to handle didn’t ease those concerns. Walker also is below average defensively with a well below average arm and looks like a left-field only profile, which adds to the risk in a system with Eloy and a ton of good outfield prospects. If he returns to his earlier swing form, I can see a 50 hit and 55 power, but it would come with mediocre discipline, no real speed and an uphill battle for playing time. The floor is 40 hit with 50 power and the rest of the issues still there. Just not a guy I’m in love with at this point.

Brenden’s Take – 

Walker was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft. I think I might’ve found a personal favorite of mine in this system. Walker doesn’t have any plus tools and will probably be relegated to LF with average speed and an average arm but his bat will play nicely. Lauded for his ability to hit at his time at Oklahoma and he has a good track record with wooden bats. He has a strong lower half (Look at this kid’s calves in this video taken by 2080 Baseball https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9THsu8yolj0) with a beautiful stroke from the left side that should generate good loft on the baseball. He had an oblique injury at the end of Junior year that forced him to miss the postseason and based on his first results as professional it seemed to carry over. I’m excited to see what he can do when healthy in the minors. This is a kid who is going to just keep hitting and with more power than some people expect. Unfortunately, though, he’s going to have to prove he can hit because he doesn’t have good speed or defensive acumen to have any other path to the majors. 

Ceiling – 275/335/485 25/7

Floor – Bust

Expectation – 260/315/435 15/4

Risk – High

ETA – 2021


18. Zack Burdi RHP

Age – 23

HT/WT –  6’3″ 205lb

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Another White Sox Tommy John victim, Burdi missed most of 2018, but should be ready for 2019 and will likely make his MLB debut. Burdi is RP only but has a 95-100 MPH heater that can reach 102. It’s a legit 70 without run, but it shows run at times and will be an 80 if that becomes consistent. Wipeout slider is a legitimate 60 offering and a change that really drops off is a 55 that flashes 60 at times. There is a potential 80 pitch with 2 potential 60’s here. His ceiling is top 5 closer. But his delivery can get out of whack, command comes and goes and he’s an injury risk, so there’s risk here as well. But you have to chase the upside.

Brenden’s Take – 

Burdi was drafted in the first round in 2016 by the White Sox, after being one of the most dominant closers at the college level at Louisville. He features an explosive fastball hitting triple digits and a devastating hard slider to pair with the fastball. He also displays an above-average changeup. You might be asking why he isn’t in the rotation, well that’s simply because his control just isn’t there to be a viable option in the rotation despite having 3 above-average or better pitches. Unfortunately, Burdi had to get TJS at the end of the 2017 season and missed almost all of the 2018 season (made a couple of appearances at the end of the season). He has all the makings of an elite-level closer but we will have to wait and see in 2019 if he has retained his pitching ability after going under the knife.

Ceiling – High end Closer

Floor – Middle Relief arm

Expectation – Closer

Risk – Medium

ETA – 2019


19. Ian Hamilton RHP

Age – 23

HT/WT –  6’0″ 200lb

Current Level – MLB

Alex’s Take – 

If Burdi doesn’t hit that ceiling, Hamilton will be there to lock the doors on hitters. His hard sinking fastball lives 95-97 and touches 99, creating plenty of inning-ending double plays and his wipeout slider is very similar to Burdi’s and should produce very high whiff rates. He throws a change, that needs to either become consistent or be scrapped. But Hamilton attacks hitters has nasty stuff and creates GB. Likely a setup man or a closer when it’s all said and done.

Brenden’s Take – 

Hamilton was able to make his debut in 2018 and it was an okay debut. I think there’s a lot to like with Hamilton with a powerful sinking fastball that sits in the upper 90’s touching just below triple digits. He also possesses a plus (potentially plus-plus) hard slider that produces some silly looking swings at times. There’s also a changeup but I think he’s better off just possessing the fastball and slider. The great thing about Hamilton is he fills the zone and generally dares hitters to try and hit him. Closer potential, but at a minimum, I think he will be a high leverage reliever.

Ceiling – Closer

Floor – GB Specialist

Expectation – Set Up Man

Risk – Low

ETA – 2018


20. Kodi Medeiros LHP

Age – 22

HT/WT –  6’2″ 180lb

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

A Brewers first round pick in 2014 (12th overall) out of HS, Medeiros has nasty stuff. His sinking fastball lives 92-95 reaching 97 with excellent life. His best pitch is a slurvy two plane slider with great spin and break and he has a nice sinking changeup that is very inconsistent. He profiles for high whiff and high GB rates with all of his dropping movement. But with all of his movement, he can’t seem to control it. And has been up and down with his velo and command through his career. He still has a decent ceiling and dirty stuff, but the floor is troubling as well. Luckily, his stuff is good enough to give him a shot at becoming an impact pen option if he fails as a starter, but 2019 will likely be a make or break year for the Hawaiian native.

Brenden’s Take – 

Medeiros was originally drafted by the Brewers in the first round of the 2014 draft, he was later acquired by the White Sox in 2018 in the Joakim Soria deal. Medeiros has a funky sidearm delivery that has raised questions whether he will stay as a starter or become a reliever. He possesses a low-mid 90’s fastball with good movement and a plus slider with great action. He does throw a changeup as well but it is a below average pitch, flashing average occasionally. The thing holding him back from being a starter for sure is his control where he has struggled to not walk batters (at best he has been a tick below 4 BB/9). He strikes out a fair amount of batters and the slider is a weapon that can be used against right or left handed batters but his future role is most likely in the bullpen unless he makes strides with his command.

Ceiling – SP4

Floor – Never Makes Majors

Expectation – Swing Starter

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2020


Honorable Mentions

Bryce Bush 3B

Bush was drafted out of High School and after not being drafted in the first 5 rounds, it was expected he would ignore any offers and honor his college commitment. Then the Sox somehow were able to sign the hometown kid with their 33rd round pick for $300k. Bush has a long swing, but incredible bat speed. No idea where he will call his defensive home but that bat speed is enough to keep tabs on.

Tyler Johnson RHP

Johnson is another hard-throwing closer but lacks the secondary pitches that Burdi or Hamilton possess. If he can develop the slider, he could become a high leverage reliever.

Konnor Pilkington LHP

Pilkington doesn’t have high upside but he’s a big framed starter with 3 pitches which he commands well and knows how to sequence. With a good college track record at Mississippi State, he expects to be a solid back of the rotation innings eater.

Bonus Honorable Mention

Lazaro Leal OF/1B

With news of his signing yesterday thought it was worth throwing him in here as a bonus. Watching the tape he has a strong developed frame with an impressive swing that generates impressive power. There was a Spanish MLB blog that described his power in the same realm of Vlad Jr. So I’d say that’s enough to keep tabs on him, to see if that’s true or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *