Have no fear, White Sox fans. Help is on the way. Not five years from now either. Soon. Over the last few seasons, White Sox brass has done one hell of a job restocking this farm system. They traded away Jose Quintana for Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, and others, Chris Sale for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Luis Alexander Basabe, and signed Luis Robert out of Cuba. Boom, there’s five of your top-6 White Sox prospects right there, excluding the graduated Moncada. In addition, they drafted one of the best hit tools in this year’s draft with the 4th overall pick and have another blossoming ace to slot next to Kopech. Times might be tough for the White Sox right now, but there are bluer skies ahead.
Overall System Grade: B+
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Charlotte – International League
Double-A: Birmingham – Southern League
Single-A (Advanced): Winston-Salem – Carolina League
Single-A (Full): Kannapolis – South Atlantic League
Short-season Single-A: None
Rookie: Great Falls – Pioneer League, one team each in the Arizona League and Dominican Summer League.
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New Top 25 Chicago White Sox Prospects
1. Eloy Jimenez, OF, DOB: 11/27/96, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .337/.384/.577/.961, 28 2B, 22 HR, 0 SB, 7.0 BB%, 15.1 K%, 416 AB
It’s clearly obvious that Eloy Jimenez is too good for the minor leagues. Damn you service time! Jimenez dominated Southern and International League pitching for the entire season, save a two-week absence in early July. That must have felt like a vacation for International League pitchers. Jimenez is truly a rare breed with 70-grade power at a bare minimum and at least a 60-grade hit tool with outstanding plate coverage. His highest strikeout rate at any level is 21.9% and stands at 18.2% for his minor league career. For a slugger of his magnitude, that’s impressive.
Wanna see something really pretty? Here's Eloy Jimenez's HR tonight from the open side. pic.twitter.com/WVt3Sahkwm
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) August 14, 2018
Jimenez loads well onto his back leg and times pitches with a moderate leg kick. Weight transfer and swing path are fluid and in unison. When Jimenez makes contact, it’s hard contact. To all fields, as well. Jimenez’s rock solid offensive profile will (not should) allow him to hit for both a high average and a ton of power. He’s your prototypical middle of the order slugger that pitchers fear and curse his name under their breath when he’s strolling to the plate. Get ready, because the Jimenez show is coming to the Windy City early in 2019.
2. Luis Robert, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 8/3/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A/A+): .269/.333/.360/.693, 11 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 15 SB, 5.8 BB%, 25.0 K%, 186 AB
Robert is a prospect I’ve been extremely high on for as long as I can remember. On more than one occasion, I’ve called him “Yoan Moncada with more plate discipline.” Various injuries have limited Robert to only 270 at-bats since coming stateside, but in those limited at-bats, he’s shown off most of his tools that have me and many others envisioning All-Star appearances in the future. Robert is an above-average defender in center field with a decent throwing arm and plus-plus speed that helps him cover a lot of ground. That speed has translated into success on the bases as well. Robert has swiped 27 bases in his 78 games while only getting caught seven times. Pencil in 30 steals annually with the upside for much more.
BP with #WhiteSox Luis Robert.@TheAthleticCHI pic.twitter.com/w6Vvmgbp35
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) November 3, 2018
While the hit tool and plate approach have carried over to the minors nicely, one aspect of Robert’s game that hasn’t is the power. At least, not the over the fence kind. Robert has 26 extra-base hits in his minor league career, but only three have cleared the outfield fence. And none of those three came during the 2018 season. Robert might not ever become a masher, but there’s more power here than he’s shown so far. Trust me. Long-term 15-20 home runs should be his norm along with a strong batting average and OBP.
3. Michael Kopech, RHP, DOB: 4/30/96, ETA Debuted in 2018
2018 Stats (AAA): 126.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 12.1 K/9, .219 AVG
2018 Stats (MLB): 14.1 IP, 5.02 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9, 9.4 K/9, .328 AVG
I know it’s not technically your fault Tommy John, but come on. The 2018 season was a rollercoaster ride for Kopech, mainly with his control. Started normal, got ridiculously bad, then equally as good. The ridiculously bad was a 7.6 BB/9 over a 12-start stretch from 5/6 to 7/5. The equally as good was a 0.8 BB/9 in the six starts that followed that stretch leading up to his promotion to Chicago. Neither number is indicative of the type of pitcher Kopech is, but does show that his command tends to not always bee overly consistent.
When he’s on, Kopech is one of the most dominant pitchers around, regardless of the level. But when his command goes, watch out. You might get a triple-digit fastball in the ribs. In addition to the heat, Kopech has a filthy slider with two-plane break and a fading changeup that is inconsistent but flashes plus at times. The upside here is an ace, but that will have to wait until 2020 as Kopech will likely miss all of 2019 recovery from surgery.
4. Dylan Cease, RHP, DOB: 12/28/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 124.0 IP, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 11.6 K/9, .189 AVG
Acquiring Jimenez by himself for Quintana would’ve been a solid haul, but throw in Cease and it’s highway robbery. A dominant 2018 season has vaulted Cease from a very good pitching prospect to borderline elite. For the third season in a row, Cease lowered his walk rate while keeping his strikeout rate north of 11.5 K/9. Lack of command was a big issue for Cease early in his minor league career, but not so much anymore. He’s not a control artist or anything, but his command is adequate enough to allow him to dominate hitters with an upper-90’s fastball with life and a hammer curveball that is easily a plus pitch. Cease’s change-up lags behind but should be at least an average third pitch for him. There’s ace upside here if he can keep his control in check. Developing that changeup a little more wouldn’t hurt either.
5. Nick Madrigal, 2B, Bats: R, DOB: 3/5/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A/A+): .303/.353/.348/.701, 7 2B, 0 HR, 8 SB, 4.0 BB%, 2.9 K%, 155 AB
You’ve heard of the three true outcome hitter, right? Well, Madrigal is a one outcome hitter. All he does is put the ball in play. Madrigal rarely walks or strikes out. He didn’t even record his first strikeout until his 73rd professional plate appearance for crying out loud. The contact skills, hand-eye coordination, and plate coverage are all elite and give Madrigal a fairly high floor in the batting average department, with the potential to win a batting title or two in his career.
Outside of that, his power is minimal. With some added strength and loft, double-digit homers are a possibility, but his ceiling is likely capped in the 12-15 range. That might be a tad generous, too. He does have above-average to plus speed which should translate to 25-plus steals annually. In the field, Madrigal displays solid range and footwork, but his throwing arm is better suited for second base rather than shortstop.
6. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, Bats: S, DOB: 8/26/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .258/.354/.445/.799, 21 2B, 8 3B, 15 HR, 16 SB, 12.4 BB%, 27.2 K%, 438 AB
This is a pretty damn good third piece to acquire in a trade. Kind of has to be though to deal a guy like Sale. The 22-year-old Venezuelan has above-average raw power and plus speed but has struggled to develop his hit tool so far. He’s hit anywhere from .221 to .269, but has managed mostly strong OBPs thanks to his 12.3% career walk rate. Basabe’s quick wrists and compact swing generate plus bat speed and he’s shown good power to his pull side. Defensively, he has a strong throwing arm and decent range in centerfield. The hit tool is what needs the most work here.
.@statcast measures the exit velocity, launch angle and projected distance of Luis Alexander Basabe's homer off Hunter Greene's 102 MPH fastball. 🔥 https://t.co/Z6sGixOo3p
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 16, 2018
7. Blake Rutherford, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 5/2/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .293/.345/.436/.781, 25 2B, 9 3B, 7 HR, 15 SB, 7.0 BB%, 18.5 K%, 447 AB
Another prospect the White Sox brought in via trade. This one in the deal where they sent Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson to the Yankees last July. A prospect like Rutherford often gets overlooked due to not having one standout tool. In fact, he really only has one tool that I would consider above-average; his hit tool. Rutherford makes a ton of contact with a balanced and quick swing and doesn’t chase a lot of bad pitches, keeping his strikeout rate in check (18.5% for career). His swing is geared more for contact and line drives right now but Rutherford has enough strength to reach the 12-15 range for home runs, but that’s about it. Overall, Rutherford currently projects as a .280/15/15 type. A solid and safe prospect.
8. Dane Dunning, RHP, DOB: 12/20/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 86.1 IP, 2.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 10.4 K/9, .235 AVG
When Dane Dunning is your third best pitching prospect, you know you’re doing something right. Dunning might not have quite the same upside as Kopech and Cease, but his solid three-pitch arsenal and plus control make him a safe bet to become at least a mid-rotation starter and likely more than that. That three-pitch mix is a sinking low-90’s fastball, a slider with good shape, and a changeup. Both the slider and changeup are above-average offerings and flash plus at times. Dunning should progress to Triple-A this season with a promotion to Chicago likely in the summer.
9. Micker Adolfo, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 9/11/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .282/.369/.464/.833, 18 2B, 11 HR, 2 SB, 10.1 BB%, 27.4 K%, 291 AB
What if I told you that Adolfo was once a more highly thought of prospect than Gleyber Torres and Rafael Devers? Well, it’s true. Adolfo was considered one of the top-3 international prospects during the 2013 signing period and signed with the White Sox for 1.6 million. Adolfo has taken some time to develop, but fits the power-hitting right fielder mold perfectly. A rocket arm and easy plus raw power are his calling cards and he’s begun to make strides with the hit tool and plate approach over the last couple of years. Coming into this season, Adolfo’s strikeout rate sat at 33.9 % and walk rate at 6.3 %. If you look around two inches above, you’ll see that both of those rates improved in 2018. If he continues to develop in those areas, Adolfo could blossom into a .260/30 corner outfielder.
10. Zack Collins, C, Bats: L, DOB: 2/6/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): .234/.382/.404/.786, 24 2B, 15 HR, 5 SB, 19.0 BB%, 29.8 K%, 418 AB
Collins is a simple prospect to explain. He walks a ton, possesses above-average to plus raw power, and strikes out a ton. See, I only needed one sentence. For his career, Collins has hit .232 with a 28.6% strikeout rate and 19.0 BB%. You got to love the walk rate and 25 HR pop, but not the rest of the package. Plus bat speed and loft generate that power when he makes contact, but Collins simply doesn’t make enough contact right now to ever hit for a respectable batting average. He’s more of an asset in OBP leagues than AVG leagues.
11. Alec Hansen, RHP, DOB: 10/10/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 51.1 IP, 6.31 ERA, 2.01 WHIP, 10.3 BB/9, 9.6 K/9,
Coming into 2018, Hansen was in the same area as Cease and Dunning on most prospect rankings and was coming off a season where he led the minors in strikeouts. Not anymore. Yours truly even ranked him as the #81 prospect in all of baseball last February. So what has changed to make him not even a top-10 prospect in his own organization? Location, location location. Or lack thereof for that matter. I mentioned this back in those pre-season rankings as something that held me back from ranking him higher.
“The one and only reason why Hansen isn’t inside my top-50 is his shaky control, which might constitute a switch to the bullpen at some point.”
Not patting myself on the back or anything, but the control gave me reservations nine months ago and that has been magnified by quite a bit after his performance this season. Sure, you can blame an early-season forearm injury for some of the control issues, but this is still a major area of concern for Hansen. The White Sox are going to give him every chance to remain in the rotation, but if he is indeed moved to the bullpen, Hansen’s electric fastball and plus curveball will make him a late-inning weapon. If he’s not walking everyone in sight, that is.
12. Steele Walker, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 7/30/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A): .209/.271/.342/.613, 6 2B, 5 HR, 6 SB, 5.6 BB%, 20.9 K%, 158 AB
Numbers lie. Especially numbers accrued over just 158 at-bats. Walker was one of the top collegiate bats in the 2018 draft class on the strength of his advanced plate approach and plus contact skills. Walker whiffed in only 15.3% of his plate appearances at Oklahoma and has the hand-eye coordination and plate discipline to maintain that moving forward. Outside of the hit tool is a bunch of average tools, both offensively and defensively. There’s enough power and speed to get into the teens in each, but not much more than that. Walker’s swing is geared more for spraying line drives than hitting home runs.
13. Luis Gonzalez, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 9/10/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A/A+): .307/.368/.498/.866, 40 2B, 14 HR, 10 SB, 8.8 BB%, 19.0 K%, 482 AB
As a Red Sox fan, the name Luis Gonzalez holds a special place in my heart for ending the Yankees championship run back in the 2001 World Series. This particular Gonzalez has displayed an above-average hit tool and plate approach with modest power and speed. There’s more power upside in bat too if he adds some loft to his swing. Gonzalez has some solid speed on the bases and in center field, which is where he should stay long-term.
14. Gavin Sheets, 1B, Bats: L, DOB: 4/23/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats: .293/.368/.407/.775, 28 2B, 6 HR, 1 SB, 10.5 BB%, 16.3 K%, 437 AB
Sheets is a big boy. At 6’4 and 240 pounds, Sheets has plus raw power as you might expect, but has struggled to translate that into game power. His swing path is fine, but Sheets doesn’t have the greatest bat speed around which is part of the problem. On the other hand, his overall hit tool and plate approach have improved, which gives me more confidence in his batting average moving forward. While he’s incredibly slow, Sheets has displayed adequate range and footwork at first base. He just needs to start hitting for more power.
15. Jake Burger, 3B, Bats: R, DOB: 4/10/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats: DID NOT PLAY
A torn Achilles forced the 2017 #11 overall pick out of action for the entire 2018 season and possibly a month or two of the 2019 season as well. Burger has plus raw power but needs to add loft to his swing if he wants to translate that raw power into game power. He drops his hands pre-pitch, but makes up for that with plus bat speed. Don’t let his frame fool you either, Burger can run a little bit and has solid range at the hot corner.
16. Luis Curbelo, SS/3B, Bats: R, DOB: 11/10/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): .237/.282/.338/.620, 19 2B, 3 HR, 0 SB, 5.2 BB%, 25.4 K%, 317 AB
A 6th-round pick in 2016, Curbelo has struggled so far in the minor leagues, but still has intriguing offensive tools. His quick swing generates hard contact and has the raw power to hit 15-20 home runs or more once he adds some loft to his swing. The problem has been consistency. Curbelo’s pitch selection and overall hit tool aren’t the greatest and will need improvement to succeed at the higher levels.
17. Laz Rivera, SS, Bats: R, DOB: 5/20/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A/A+): .314/.361/.481/.842, 30 2B, 13 HR, 17 SB, 2.5 BB%, 17.9 K%, 462 AB
Rivera is your classic backup middle infielder. He puts the ball in play, has some moderate pop and speed, and plays adequate defense at short. He barely ever walks but also has managed to keep his strikeouts in check during his minor league career. It’s possible he develops into a starter that hits near the bottom of the order due to his likely low OBP, but that’s about it.
Laz Rivera #WhiteSox laces a double over the CF head. #mlbazFallLeague pic.twitter.com/FzKKMlvIxB
— FFO Phil (@thebaseballjedi) October 9, 2018
18. Camilo Quinteiro, 2B, Bats: R, DOB: 4/11/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK): .280/.427/.313/.740, 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 SB, 18.6 BB%, 21.6 K%, 150 AB
If Quinteiro is able to make it to the Majors, it will be due to his speed and hit tool. Quinteiro signed for $300K this summer and immediately displayed a patient approach and above average contact skills. There’s absolutely no power to speak of here, so Quinteiro will need to keep making consistent contact and utilize his speed if he wants to climb the organizational ladder.
19. Zack Burdi, RHP, DOB: 3/9/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (RK): 6.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.7 BB/9, 9.9 K/9, .217 AVG
Burdi was limited to just seven appearances in the Arizona Rookie League this season after spending most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s making up for lost time out in the Arizona Fall league with Glendale, getting into five games already with a couple weeks to go in the season. Burdi has closer stuff with a triple-digit heater, plus slider, and an average or better changeup, but struggles mightily with his command.
20. Kodi Medeiros, LHP, DOB: 5/25/96, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (AA): 137.2 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 9.2 K/9, .238 AVG
Acquired mid-season in the Joakim Soria trade, Medeiros has mid-rotation upside if he can get his mechanics and control in order. Medeiros has tinkered with his arm slot and has struggled to find consistency with his command throughout his career. When he’s on, his running low 90’s fastball and plus slider keep hitters off balance and he’s even flashed a fringy changeup.
21. Jimmy Lambert, RHP, DOB: 11/18/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 95.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 10.3 K/9, .222 AVG
The younger brother of Colorado farmhand Peter Lambert, Jimmy Lambert is your prototypical back-end rotation arm. He works with a four-pitch arsenal, with his curveball being the best of the bunch. He mixes pitches well and can command his entire arsenal.
22. Tyler Frost, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 11/21/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A): .241/.324/.445/.769, 21 2B, 18 HR, 7 SB, 9.9 BB%, 27.8 K%, 407 AB
Frost isn’t the biggest guy around but gets good leverage on his swing and projects to have close to 20 homer pop in his prime. While his contact skills are inconsistent, Frost salvages his OBP with a 9.5 BB%. Overall, he projects as a 4th outfielder.
23. Josue Guerrero, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 11/23/99, ETA 2023
2018 Stats (RK): .192/.231/.288/.518, 5 2B, 0 HR, 0 SB, 3.8 BB%, 34.6 K%, 73 AB
The nephew of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Josue Guerrero is as raw as they come but has some intriguing offensive tools. I mean, how can you not with these bloodlines. Guerrero has the same aggressive approach as his uncle with plus raw power, but the hit tool needs major work. Guerrero is often too aggressive and chases plenty of pitches outside of the strike zone. Still, he’s one to monitor.
24. Ian Hamilton, RHP, DOB: 6/16/95, ETA Debuted in 2018
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 51.2 IP, 1.74 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 10.8 K/9, .204 AVG
2018 Stats (MLB): 8.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 5.6 K/9, .207 AVG
Consider Hamilton a safer version of Burdi, only with less upside. Hamilton has better control than Burdi does and throws in the mid to upper-90’s with sink but lacks a plus secondary offering. His slider has flashed plus at times, but Hamilton has a tendency to overthrow it, causing it to lose tilt.
25. Seby Zavala, C, Bats: R, DOB: 8/28/93, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .258/.317/.418/.735, 22 2B, 13 HR, 0 SB, 7.8 BB%, 25.8 K%, 380 AB
The upside isn’t as high, but it’s likely that Zavala reaches the Majors before Collins does this season. His average hit tool and power give him a little bit of upside in deeper AL-Only Leagues, but the long-term upside isn’t overly high. He’s also a subpar defensive catcher and might have to find a new position to call home at some point.
Up – Dylan Cease (RHP)
Down – Alec Hansen (RHP)
Other Team Prospect Reports
Photo/Video Credit: Josh Norris, Jason Pennini, Emily Waldon, FFO Phil, Chicago White Sox
Eric Cross is the lead MLB writer and prospect analyst here on FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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