2014 Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects

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After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days –  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Jose Abreu, Position: 1B, Age: 27

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

CUBA

N/A

N/A

.382

.535

.735

N/A

N/A

.353

N/A

N/A

13

N/A

Profile: Signed to a six-year, $68 million deal after defecting from Cuba. Grantland’s Jonah Keri made an astute observation in late February 2012: Jose Abreu was hitting .453/.597/.986 with 33 homeruns in 212 at bats. 212 at bats. 212. At. Bats. For those counting at home that’s one homerun every 6.42 at bats. Abreu literally averaged a bomb every game and a half.

According to Baseball America, the big first baseman cooled off considerably last season, hitting “only” .382/.535/.735.

Analysis: Just to add a baseline of sorts, fellow countrymen Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig hit .333/.424/.667 and .330/.430/.581 during their final respective seasons in Cuba. Abreu’s production basically dwarfed those numbers. Like David vs. Goliath type stuff.

It’s incredibly difficult to project Cuban players because, well, I can never, ever find enough data. But what we do know is: Abreu’s entering his age-27 season, the start of his theoretical peak; he’s done far better than his stateside counterparts; and he gets a ton of HBPs.

I’d say Abreu will perform something like .280/.380/.580 with 35 homeruns. Maybe Ryan Howard in his peak?

Ceiling: 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

2. Marcus Semien, Position: 2B/3B/SS, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

483

167

.290

.420

.483

17.4%

13.7%

.193

21

5

15

20/25

AAA

142

123

.264

.338

.464

9.9%

16.9%

.200

11

1

4

4/4

MLB

71

77

.261

.268

.406

1.4%

31.0%

.145

4

0

2

2/4

Profile: During last year’s ranking I wrote: “Semien shows the potential to be the type of player Gordon Beckham was expected to be, an above-average bat with the peak of a solid #2-type hitter.”

Frankly, he’s one of my favorite prospects in all the minor leagues. Last season, the former sixth round pick out of the University of California spent time in Class AA and Class AAA, where he hit a combined .284/.407/.479, before making his big league debut.

Analysis: A 12.7% career walk rate. The ability to swipe 20- to 25-bags in a season. Surprising pop for a middle infield bat. Semien is one of the most underrated – if not the most underrated – prospects in all the minor leagues. He’s going to be an above-average regular for a long time, peaking as .290/.400/.450-type hitter. Defensively, the Sox haven’t quite decided where to play him. Hopefully, he’ll take over for Beckham at the keystone.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

3. Matt Davidson, Position: 3B, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AAA

500

117

.280

.350

.481

9.2%

26.8%

.201

32

3

17

1/1

MLB

87

108

.237

.333

.434

11.5

27.6%

.197

6

0

3

0/1

Profile: White Sox GM Rick Hahn played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Hahn shipped off hard-throwing closer Addison Reed, clearly a position a rebuilding team doesn’t need, for Davidson, who instantly becomes the franchise’s third baseman of the future.

Davidson capped off another quietly successful season, hitting .280/.350/.481 during his time in Reno. Including his brief 87-PA stint with the D-Backs, the former first round pick slugged 20 or more homeruns for the third consecutive season.

Analysis: Sure-and-steady. Davidson has performed well against older competition without truly dominating at any single level. His best season, in terms of production versus the league average, was his stint in low Class in 2010 when he was 39% better than the league average. He’s willing to take a walk and has above-average power potential, but the strikeouts – 24.3% for his career – border on potential red flag territory. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn into a Three True Outcomes Hitter at some point, particularly the latter half of his big league career.

If there’s one thing he needs to improve upon it’s his lackluster defensive showings.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

4. Erik Johnson, Position: RHP, Age: 24

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

84.2

2.23

3.40

7.87

2.23

22.6%

6.4%

0.64

47.8%

AAA

57.1

1.57

3.30

8.95

2.98

25.0%

8.3%

0.16

47.0%

MLB

27.2

3.25

4.76

5.86

3.58

14.1%

8.6%

1.63

50.0%

Profile: Like Semien, Johnson split his time between Double-A and Triple-A before making his big league debut late in the year. The 6-foot-3 right-hander finished his minor league season with a sparkling 1.96 ERA, tied for the sixth lowest mark among all MiLB hurlers with 100+ innings.

Analysis: Johnson’s not overpowering, though his fastball averaged 92.0 mph during his debut with the Sox. But he shows above-average control and groundball rates. He won’t be a frontline starting pitcher, but should settle in as a very good #3, maybe peaking with a couple #2-like seasons.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

5. Francellis Montas, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

107.0

5.64

3.48

10.35

4.21

25.6%

10.4%

0.90

37.2%

Profile: The Sox were roundly lambasted for their deals before the deadline last year, particularly in sending Jake Peavy to the Red Sox in the three-team deal also involving Detroit. Consider the following:

  • Francellis Montas: 20-years-old, 107.0 IP, 10.35 K/9, 4.21 BB/9, 3.48 SIERA
  • Lance McCullers: 19-years-old, 104.2 IP, 10.06 K/9, 4.21 BB/9, 3.33 SIERA

Granted, Montas is slightly older (less than seven months), but even if he’s 75% of the prospect that McCullers is than the White Sox received a pretty good young hurler. 

Analysis: As with any young arm there’s going to be a lot of injury risk associated with Montas, but the peripherals are too good to ignore. His control was far better during his 85+ innings with Boston (3.38 BB/9) than the 25+ innings with Chicago (6.31 BB/9). There’s quite a bit of upside here.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

6. Courtney Hawkins, Position: CF, Age: 20

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

425

72

.178

.249

.384

6.8%

37.6%

.206

16

3

19

10/15

Profile: The 12th pick in the 2012 draft, the White Sox left Hawkins to die in high Class A last season despite some massive – MASSIVE! – struggles. The teenaged center fielder was 28% below the Carolina League average while hitting .178/.249/.384. He also sported a strikeout rate approaching 38%.

Analysis: Incredibly toolsy. Hawkins is already showing above-average pop and speed, but the organization did a complete disservice keeping him in high Class A when it became apparent that he didn’t belong. Let’s just hope they didn’t wreck his future.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

7. Chris Beck, Position: RHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

118.2

3.11

4.51

4.32

3.19

11.4%

8.4%

0.83

56.5$

AA

28.0

2.89

3.33

7.07

0.96

20.0%

2.7%

0.00

42.2%

Profile: On the outset the former second round pick of Georgia Southern University turned in a solid, if not impressive, first full season in professional ball. Beck made 26 starts (21 in high Class and the remaining five in Class AA) and posted a nice enough looking 3.07 ERA. The problem, however, is that he averaged just 4.8 punch outs per nine innings, and as a consequence his Skill Independent ERA was a below-average 4.43.

Analysis: A bit difficult to project. Beck fanned 224 hitters over his last 206.2 collegiate innings, granted a lot of that came against less than stellar competition. And sandwiched around his work in Winston-Salem, he’s averaged 7.64 K/9, a reasonable number given his college background. The control is pretty impressive, as too are the groundball rates. This might be a bit optimistic, but I’m willing to ignore the high Class A numbers and say he has a shot at a #3/#4-type role.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

8. Trayce Thompson, Position: CF/RF, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

590

107

.229

.321

.383

10.2%

23.6%

.154

23

5

15

25/33

Profile: Never the type of player to hit for even a decent average, Thompson batted .229 but managed to best the Southern League average for offense by 7% thanks to his pop and effectiveness on the base paths.

Analysis: Sort of a poor man’s Christian Yelich, Thompson has 20/20 potential but the hit tool is lagging quite a bit, though he did set a career best K-rate (23.6%). Thompson’s the type of player that could go either way at this point. He’s always performed against older competition, but has yet to truly dominate at any level. 

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

9. Tyler Danish, Position: RHP, Age: 19

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

RK

26.0

1.38

2.52

7.62

1.73

22.7%

5.2%

0.35

68.6%

A

4.0

0.00

0.50

13.50

0.00

42.9%

0.0%

0.00

62.5%

Profile: Danish, the club’s second round pick last June, turned in an impressive debut, averaging 8.4 K/9 and just 1.5 BB/9.

Analysis: Analytically speaking, there’s virtually nothing to go on for Danish other than his 30-inning debut and high draft status. Still, in a farm system devoid of a lot of talent beyond the top handful of prospects, Danish could be talked about as the top prospect at this time next year.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

10. Daniel Webb, Position: RHP, Age: 24

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

15.0

0.00

2.47

11.40

3.00

31.7%

8.3%

0.00

50.0%

AA

20.1

1.77

2.86

9.30

2.21

26.9%

6.4%

0.00

35.3%

AAA

27.1

2.96

3.24

12.51

5.60

30.4%

13.6%

0.33

32.9%

MLB

11.1

3.18

3.12

7.94

3.18

21.7%

8.7%

0.00

56.3%

Profile: Addison Reed 2.0. Acquired from Toronto in early January 2012 for Jason Frasor, Webb flew through Chicago’s system last year, making stops at three different minor league levels as well as 11.1 innings with the Sox.

Analysis: Mid to upper 90s fastball, good control and ability to miss bats. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Webb as the Opening Day closer after the club dealt Addison Reed to Arizona.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 


 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


'2014 Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects' have 2 comments

  1. January 15, 2014 @ 5:06 PM Buehrlesque

    Tim Anderson not in the Top 10 at all?

    Reply

    • January 16, 2014 @ 2:21 PM JMWerner

      I have Anderson as the 13th best prospect in the system. I think it was a vast overreach by the club. I just don’t think he’ll hit for enough for power to compensate for his defensive shortcomings.

      Reply


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