Chicago White Sox 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Chicago White Sox 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Al Skorupa: The last few years have seen steady improvement in this system, even beyond a series of early picks who flew through the upper minors. Unfortunately, we’re still looking at a poor farm system overall. I think Chicago “hit” on another first round pick and Courtney Hawkins is heads and tails the best prospect in the org. at this point. Hawkins has power to spare and his athleticism got better and better reviews as Spring turned into Summer. He likely still ends up fitting best in right field, but he’s a potential impact right fielder once he makes the adjustments. Trayce Thompson ranks second for me and he brings a really exciting collection of tools to the table. Despite that, I have to question how well those tools will play in the bigs because I don’t have a lot of faith in the bat. There’s definitely a lot of potential here, though. Carlos Sanchez is another player with some questions about the hit tool. I don’t see Sanchez as any sort of special player, but he can start in the big leagues. Erik Johnson is a bit of a project, but he’s a quality arm and a great fit for what Chicago looks for (READ: Big guy who throws hard!).
After that top four is a group of flawed players. Andre Rienzo is an arm that always intrigued me and he turned some heads in the Arizona Fall League. Like most of the more interesting arms in this system, Rienzo hasn’t found a usable third offering and his fastball command is a weakness that major league hitters will exploit. I want to still like Jared Mitchell. He’s got some good qualities in his swing and great bat speed. It’s not that long ago he turned his game up a notch and dominated the College World Series, either. I’m just troubled by the lack of progress he’s made adjusting to the pro game. He badly needed at bats and injuries robbed him of some very important development time. He hasn’t been able to close the holes in his swing and at this point its hard to project him as more than a platoon player or 4th outfielder. Keenyn Walker shares many of the same problems as Mitchell, but is younger and hard more time to figure things you. In addition, Walker packs a louder set of tools. Power lefties like Scott Snodgrass aren’t easy to find, but its a better relief profile in my opinion.
The White Sox had a solid draft class behind Hawkins. Keon Barnum is a long term project but could really mash if he figures things out. Chris Beck didn’t wow me when he played on the Cape. He flashes a very solid three pitch mix but his mechanics, stuff and control come and go. Kyle Hansen is another prototypical ChiSox power arm. I don’t have a lot of hope that he can start in the majors, but he could be pretty tough out of the pen in time.
While the system remains weak overall, the scouting department has done a strong job of acquiring a group of players that fit their mold of athletes and power arms. I have questions about many of these guys and yet Chicago consistently seams to turn a few of these flawed prospects into surprisingly good major leaguers.
Jeff Reese: It’s hard to truly fault the Chicago White Sox. They don’t put a major emphasis on their farm system, focusing instead on bringing in major league talent that can help immediately. The prospects that they do draft & develop are often shipped out of town for established major leaguers. It’s not surprising that they’re perennially amongst the worst farm systems in the league. Another interesting factor is that the White Sox gravitate towards certain player profiles in their draft classes: raw athletes with loud tools & power college pitchers where uncertainty shrouds their future role. Part of this may be necessitated by the lack of funds typically committed to the draft, but the trend is noteworthy none the less.
Courtney Hawkins fits the first mold and was a player I absolutely loved pre-draft. Hawkins is a tremendous athlete — you probably remember the infamous back flip he did in studio after being selected — with excellent bat speed, plus-plus power potential, plus speed, strong arm, and good contact ability. The approach needs to be toned down a bit, but Hawkins has the tools to be an impact level right fielder. His abbreviated pro debut culminated with a taste of high-A; he should start there in 2013. Trayce Thompson follows and has similar upside, but still has much work ahead refining his tools into baseball skills. He drew comparisons to Mike Stanton when drafted because of his sheer upside and lack of refinement. After a few seasons in the White Sox system, the progress has been steady with gradual improvements in his approach and feel as a hitter. Jared Mitchell has never quite reflated his prospect stock after tearing a tendon in his ankle making an acrobatic catch during spring training, 2010. As a raw two-sport college athlete the missed development time was particularly debilitating. The tools are still there, but the approach will need to improve rapidly. Keenyn Walker is the final player on the list that fits this mold. Their first selection in 2011 out of a JuCo, Walker provides impact level speed and athleticism but is raw offensively. Keon Barnum differs in his level of athleticism and where he profiles in the field; still the huge raw power provides a link to the rest.
Erik Johnson was drafted out of Berkeley and leads the group of pitching prospects. His height and frame portend well for starting, but the delivery is still a bit rough and the changeup lags behind. And that’s the thread that links most of the pitchers in the White Sox system, particularly those that they draft. They have starter frames, power fastballs, some questions with their repertoire, and command issues. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t likable. Scott Snodgress was the underhyped Stanford starter, overshadowed by the likes of Jeff Inman, Mark Appel, Chris Reed, Brett Mooneyham, et alii. His stock has improved since entering pro ball. The stuff has ticked up — including a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s from the left side — while the control that plagued his career as a Cardinal is much more acceptable. Kyle Hansen’s delivery has a short, ugly arm action and effort that likely keeps him from starting long term, but the raw stuff makes me a fan of the selection. As a giant — 6’8″ — he produces a huge fastball with some late sink, a quality changeup that has fade and sink, and a slider with late diving action.
Chicago has the resources to survive without a well stocked minor league system and will likely continue down this path. I certainly support their affection of toolshed outfielders, and the pitching profile can certainly pay its share of dividends — even if most of them end up in the bullpen.
OF Courtney Hawkins (Steve Fiorindo)
RHP Andre Rienzo (Peter Wardell)
1B Keon Barnum (Steve Fiorindo)
RHP Chris Beck (Al Skorupa)
RHP Jacob Petricka (Chris Blessing)
RHP Nestor Molina (Chris Blessing)
2B Joey DiMichele (Steve Fiorindo)
RHP Brandon Brennan (Peter Wardell)