The 2016 Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: After peaking as the #3 book among all baseball books on Amazon last year, my new book, The 2016 Prospect Digest Handbook, is on sale! Check it out here!

And for those wondering what CALs are, here’s an article on the Comparison And Likeness program I designed.

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1. Spencer Adams, RHP

Born: 04/13/96

Age: 20

Bats: R

Top CALs: Jonathan Martinez, Jen-Ho Tseng,

Zach Eflin, Arquimedes Nieto, Ryan Weber

Height: 6-3

Weight: 171

Throws: R

YEAR

Age

Level

IP

W

L

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

LOB%

2015

19

A

100.0

9

5

3.24

3.29

6.57

0.99

17.1%

2.6%

0.63

65.4%

2015

19

A+

29.3

3

0

2.15

2.95

7.06

2.15

18.4%

5.6%

0.31

79.8%

Background: Fun fact: The first – and only – Spencer Adams to appear in the big leagues appeared in just 180 games between 1923 and 1927, but he managed to play alongside some pretty impressive talent: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, George Sisler, Bob Meusel, Sam Rice, Tony Lazzeri, Goose Goslin, Max Carey, Pie Traynor, Rabbit Maranville, Stan Coveleski, Herb Pennock, and Waite Hoyt. Imagine the stories he could… Anyway, Chicago’s Adams burst onto the scene as a second round pick two years ago when he posted a flawless 59-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41.2 innings with the franchise’s Arizona Summer League affiliate. Last season the front – correctly – decided to aggressively challenge the 6-foot-3, 171-pound right-hander. And he responded in kind. As one of the youngest arms in the Sally, Adams tossed 100.0 innings with Kannapolis, fanning 17.1% and walking just 2.6% of the total batters he faced. Adams would also make five starts in the High Class A with Winston-Salem with similar results: 29.1 IP, 18.4% K%, and 5.6% BB%. Overall, he finished the year with an aggregate 2.99 ERA with 96 strikeouts and just 18 walks over 120.1 innings.

Projection: Just to put his 2015 season into perspective, consider the following:

Only two other teenage pitchers with more than 100 innings in 2015 appeared above Low Class A: Spencer Adams and Houston’s Francis Martes.

Only four other teenage arms with 100 or more innings posted a better strikeout-to-walk percentage than Adams: Justus Sheffield, Francis Martes, David Burkhalter, and Grant Holmes.

And, of course, the pièce de résistance: Adams walk percentage was the 16th lowest among all hurlers with 100 or more innings at any level.

Here’s what I wrote in last year’s book:

“Adams was as dominant as [any] high school pitcher entering rookie ball in a long, long time. There’s some very intriguing swing-and-miss potential, and if the control/command proves to be an above-average skill then the 6-foot-3 right-hander could be the latest member of the farm to fly through the minors.

Well, the control/command proved to be a repeatable above-average skill [clearly] and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see his strikeout rates starts to creep upward as he gets older. In terms of teenage arms, he’s a solid bet to develop into a mid-rotation caliber arm, perhaps even peaking as a decent #2 for a couple years.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2018

 

2. Carson Fulmer, RHP

Born: 12/13/93

Age: 22

Bats: R

Top CALs: Nick Bucci, Blake Wood,

Robbie Ray, Benny Suarez, Vincent Velasquez

Height: 6-1

Weight: 190

Throws: R

YEAR

Age

Level

IP

W

L

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

LOB%

2015

21

R

1.0

0

0

0.00

1.82

9.00

0.00

33.3%

0.0%

0.00

100.0%

2015

21

A+

22.0

0

0

2.05

3.66

10.23

3.68

27.8%

10.0%

0.82

90.9%

Background: For the second consecutive season the White Sox took a high profile, high ceiling collegiate hurler with their first pick in the draft. After snapping up ace-to-be Carlos Rodon with the third overall pick, Chicago happily grabbed the Vanderbilt product with the eighth pick last June. Fulmer, a two-year mainstay in Pitcher U.’s rotation, opened up his collegiate career in the school’s bullpen where he would post a 51-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52.2 innings of work, some of which was spent as the club’s closer. Head Coach Tim Corbin promoted the hard-throwing right-hander to the rotation the following year and the rest, as they say, is history. Fulmer would fan 262 and walk 91 with a 1.89 ERA over his final two seasons. After the draft Chicago pushed the 6-foot-1, 190-pound hurler to the Arizona Summer League for an inning before aggressively – and unsurprisingly – bumping him up to the Carolina League. And, of course, he would dominate.

 
Projection: Prior to the draft here’s what I wrote:

Vanderbilt University has certainly churned out plenty of high-caliber big league pitching prospects throughout over the last decade-plus: David Price, Sonny Gray, Mike Minor, Tyler Beede, Jeremy Sowers, Jensen Lewis, Kevin Ziomek, Drew VerHagen, Casey Weathers, and Grayson Garvin.

And the club’s current ace has the potential to slide right up next to Sonny Gray as a potential top-of-the-rotation caliber arm – if he continues to take positive strides with his control/command.

While Fulmer’s walk rates have been trending in the right direction – it’s improved from 4.27 BB/9 to 4.05 BB/9 to a career best 3.59 BB/9 in 2015 – it’s still no better than slightly below average. And another leap forward certainly wouldn’t be unheard of either. Gray averaged 3.79 BB/9 over his final 234.2 collegiate innings. Over his last 168.2 innings, Fulmer’s averaged 3.84 BB/9.

In terms of ceiling, Fulmer looks like a potential 3.0- to 3.5-win starting pitcher, though that comes with the risk of not being able to corral his power arsenal. If not, he’s a dominant, shutdown backend reliever with the ability to move quickly.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

3. Tim Anderson, SS

Born: 06/23/93

Age: 23

Bats: R

Top CALs: Junior Lake, Jeff Bianchi,

Leury Garcia, Heiker Menses, Chris Owings

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185

Throws: R

Season

Age

LVL

PA

2B

3B

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BB%

K%

wRC+

2013

20

A

301

10

5

1

0.277

0.348

0.363

0.086

7.6%

25.9%

109

2014

21

A+

300

18

7

6

0.297

0.323

0.472

0.175

2.3%

22.7%

120

2015

22

AA

550

21

12

5

0.312

0.350

0.429

0.117

4.4%

20.7%

121

Background: In the franchise’s illustrious history the White Sox have taken six shortstops in the first round – Rich McKinney, Lee Richard, Steve Buechele, Jason Dellaero, and Tim Anderson. Five of those shortstops made it to the big leagues and the sixth, Anderson, is well on his way to making it a perfect six-for-six. Drafted out of East Central Community College in the first round three years ago, 17th overall, Anderson has handled the aggressive development path placed ahead of him: Anderson batted a respectable .277/.348/.363 as the club aggressively pushed him right into the South Atlantic League for his debut; he followed that up by slugging .297/.323/.472 in 68 games in High Class A before catching fire – briefly – in the Southern League; and last season, he continued to prove that he was one of the better shortstops in the minors. In a career best 125 games with Birmingham, Anderson hit .312/.350/.429 with 21 doubles, 12 triples, five homeruns, and 49 stolen bases (in 62 attempts). His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by 21%. And for his career, Anderson is sporting a .301/.343/.429 triple-slash line.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote in last year’s book:

“Talk about jumping all over the place – Anderson was pretty much a polar opposite player during his first and second years in the pros. Initially, he was a speed-first, no pop, average walk rate guy. And then he followed that up as a power-minded shortstop that stopped running and walking. The reality is probably somewhere in between: enough walks to help buoy a sagging OBP, 15-HR power, and 15- to 20-stolen base potential. The defense has been absolutely atrocious at this point – 53 errors in his first 145 games. Anderson’s a potential solid league average regular, maybe a tick better if he can improve his defense.“

First off, Anderson’s defense is still a work in progress. He committed another 25 errors in 110 games at the position last season, though that was a positive step in the right direction. Offensively speaking, his skill set fell pretty much in between his first two pro stops: he walked in 4.4% of his plate appearances, showed solid pop as a shortstop, and plenty of above-average speed. He’s like a poor man’s version of future Hall of Famer Jimmy Rollins – which, to be fair, is basically saying he has a shot to be an above-average regular.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2016

 

4. Jordan Guerrero, LHP

Born: 05/31/94

Age: 22

Bats: L

Top CALs: Johnny Cueto, Joe Wieland,

Edwin Diaz, Michael Torrealba, Nick Tropeano

Height: 6-3

Weight: 190

Throws: L

YEAR

Age

Level

IP

W

L

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

LOB%

2013

19

R

25.3

0

3

4.26

4.89

5.33

1.78

14.0%

4.7%

1.42

69.1%

2014

20

A

78.0

6

2

3.46

3.52

9.23

3.12

23.8%

8.0%

0.58

75.0%

2015

21

A

55.3

6

1

2.28

2.20

9.76

1.63

28.2%

4.7%

0.16

74.1%

2015

21

A+

93.7

7

3

3.56

3.04

8.46

2.02

23.4%

5.6%

0.58

67.3%

Background: Another of the youngsters I listed on the Top 25 Breakout Prospects for 2015 in last year’s book. The organization unearthed the budding big leaguer in the 15th round out of Moorpark High School four years ago. And after slowly bringing the 6-foot-3, 190-pound southpaw up to speed, Guerrero responded with the best season of his minor league career in 2015 – a definite breakout campaign for the first time starting pitcher. In a career high 149.0 innings between his time with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, the big lefty fanned more than a quarter of the guys he faced while posting a 5.3% walk percentage. For his career, Guerrero, who made just eight starts prior to the year, is sporting a 29-to-67 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 261.1 innings of work.

Projection: Ignoring the impeccable 148-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio for a moment, perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Guerrero’s season was his ability to hold up – and improve – over the course of year. Over his final 49.2 innings, all of which came with Winston-Salem in the Carolina League, Guerrero surrendered just 10 earned runs while tallying a laughable 49-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

And now the impressive part: among all stateside minor league hurlers with at least 140 innings under their belt last season, Guerrero’s strikeout-to-walk percentage, 19.9%, was the second highest, trailing only Minnesota’s budding ace Jose Berrios. Kind of adds quite a bit of perspective, doesn’t it? Guerrero isn’t as dominating as Berrios, but Chicago’s young hurler could carve out a role as #3/#4-type arm in the coming years. Don’t sleep on him.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

5. Jacob May, CF

Born: 01/23/92

Age: 24

Bats: B

Top CALs: Sean Henry, Juan Portes,

Tyler Massey Whit Merrifield, Shannon Wilkerson

Height: 5-10

Weight: 180

Throws: R

Season

Age

LVL

PA

2B

3B

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BB%

K%

wRC+

2013

21

A

230

6

3

8

0.286

0.346

0.461

0.175

7.0%

18.7%

131

2014

22

A+

472

31

10

2

0.258

0.326

0.395

0.137

8.9%

15.0%

103

2015

23

AA

432

15

1

2

0.275

0.329

0.334

0.059

6.7%

16.9%

90

Background: Originally drafted by the Reds in the 39th round in 2010, May bypassed the opportunity to turn pro and headed to Coastal Carolina University. Three years later he turned himself into a third round pick. May had one of the more impressive debuts following his selection as the 91st overall pick, hitting a combined .303/.372/.458 between Great Falls and Kannapolis. Chicago bounced the switch-hitting center fielder up to Winston-Salem the next season where his overall production took a noticeable downturn (.258/.326/.395). Last season he spent the year with the Birmingham Barons in the Southern League, hitting a decent .275/.329/.334 with 15 doubles, one triple, two homeruns, and 37 stolen bases (in 54 attempts).

Projection: The extra-base firepower May flashed during his debut is all but a pipedream at this point as his ISOs have been in steady decline since then, going from .155 to .137 to .059. But here’s where it gets interesting: May actually got off to a tremendous start with Birmingham last season, hitting .311/.359/.359 over his first 52 games. But a midseason collision with Tim Anderson, which resulted in a lengthy stint on the DL with a concussion, wrecked his production as he hit .235/.295/.306 after July 24th.

May is a fringy big league regular depending upon his value on defense. He’ll take the occasional walk, flash plus-speed, and leg out a couple two baggers. Expect him to have a major bounce back year in 2016, one that will likely end up at some point in Chicago.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2016

 

6. Micker Adolfo, RF

Born: 09/11/96

Age: 19

Bats: R

Top CALs: Rashad Brown, Alan Garcia,

Charcer Burks, Aldemar Burgos, Cory Scammell

Height: 6-3

Weight: 200

Throws: R

Season

Age

LVL

PA

2B

3B

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BB%

K%

wRC+

2015

18

R

93

3

1

0

0.253

0.323

0.313

0.060

6.5%

26.9%

92

Background: The recipient of the largest international bonus handed out to an amateur two years ago, Adolfo looked ill-prepared for his debut in the Arizona Summer League, hitting a lowly .218/.279/.380. Chicago opted to keep the 6-foot-3, 200-pound right fielder back in the rookie league last season and he responded with a .253/.323/.313 triple-slash line with three doubles, one triple, and three stolen bases.

Projection: Adolfo was limited to just 22 games as a fractured left fibula – with ankle ligament damage for added fun – forced a premature end to his season. He’s still only accrued just 55 games, so we’ll take a wait-and-see approach heading into 2016. He did manage to shave nearly 20-percentage points of his strikeout rate, though it was still 26.9% last season.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Risk: N/A

MLB ETA: N/A

 

7. Tyler Danish, RHP

Born: 09/12/94

Age: 21

Bats: R

Top CALs: Chris Volstad, Arquimedes Nieto,

Jacob Turner, Ryan Searle, Ronald Herrera

Height: 64

Weight: 205

Throws: R

YEAR

Age

Level

IP

W

L

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

LOB%

2013

18

R

26.0

1

0

1.38

2.82

7.62

1.73

22.7%

5.2%

0.35

75.3%

2013

18

A

4.0

0

0

0.00

0.48

13.50

0.00

42.9%

0.0%

0.00

100.0%

2014

19

A

38.0

3

0

0.71

3.06

5.92

2.37

17.1%

6.9%

0.00

79.0%

2014

19

A+

91.7

5

3

2.65

3.69

7.66

2.26

20.6%

6.1%

0.69

75.8%

2015

20

AA

142.0

8

12

4.50

4.60

5.70

3.80

14.2%

9.5%

0.82

71.2%

Background: Another member of the club’s minor league system that I placed on last year’s Top Breakout Prospects. Danish, a former second round pick three years ago, was an absolute dominant force over his first two professional seasons: he tallied an impressive 28-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 innings between the Appalachian and South Atlantic Leagues during his debut, and he followed that up with an immaculate showing with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem in 2014 (129.2 innings, 103 strikeouts, 33 walks, and an aggregate 2.08 ERA). Last season, Danish got his first – bitter – taste of Class AA, though it didn’t start off terribly. Over his first 12 starts with the Barons, Danish fanned 56 and walked 25 in 65.2 innings. But over his final 14 appearances he posted a 34-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 76.1 innings.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote in last year’s book:

“One of those sleeper-type prospects that pops up in the major leagues without any really noticing. Danish isn’t overpowering; in fact, he’s sort of the opposite – pitchability over power. The Zach McAllister and Jacob Turner comparisons suggested by CAL push him into back-of-the-rotation territory. In my writings for ESPN Network site Its Pronounced Lajaway, I’ve trumpeted McAllister for a long time, so here’s hoping Danish reaches his potential (I’m still waiting on the Tribe’s starter, by the way).”

Well, given his previous two seasons, his second half collapse is likely going to be a speed bump. CAL still compares him to some backend starters in Chris Volstad and Turner as well.

Ceiling: 1.5win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2017 

 

8. Trey Michalczewski, 3B

Born: 02/27/95

Age: 21

Bats: B

Top CALs: Tyler Goeddel, Matt West,

Karexon Sanchez, Drew Ward, Bobby Borchering

Height: 6-3

Weight: 210

Throws: R

Season

Age

LVL

PA

2B

3B

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BB%

K%

wRC+

2013

18

R

222

5

2

3

0.236

0.324

0.328

0.092

10.4%

25.2%

94

2014

19

A

495

25

7

10

0.273

0.348

0.433

0.160

9.1%

28.3%

117

2015

20

A+

532

35

4

7

0.259

0.335

0.395

0.135

9.4%

21.4%

113

Background: A seventh round pick out of Jenks High School three years ago, Michalczewski turned in another quietly solid year in High Class A last season. In 127 games with Winston-Salem, the switch-hitting third baseman batted .259/.335/.395 with a career best 35 doubles, four triples and seven homeruns en route to topping the league average mark by 13%.

Projection: Just like he did the previous year, Michalczewski’s first half of the year was far more impressive than the second half. He slugged .267/.348/.426 through his first 68 games, but hit a lowly .251/.320/.359 over his final 59 contests. The power could turn into 15- to 20-homeruns down the line, but the rest of his skill sets is merely average. And CAL remains unimpressed, linking him to Tyler Goeddel, Matt West, Karexon Sanchez, Drew Ward, and Bobby Borchering.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

9. Chris Beck, RHP

Born: 09/04/90

Age: 25

Bats: R

Top CALs: Merrill Kelly, Scott Diamond,

Jeremy Sowers, Daniel Barone, Lucas Harrell

Height: 6-3

Weight: 225

Throws: R

YEAR

Age

Level

IP

W

L

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

LOB%

2013

22

A+

118.7

11

8

3.11

4.76

4.32

3.19

11.4%

8.4%

0.83

75.9%

2013

22

AA

28.0

2

2

2.89

1.88

7.07

0.96

20.0%

2.7%

0.00

67.7%

2014

23

AA

116.7

5

8

3.39

3.92

4.40

2.39

11.6%

6.3%

0.54

71.7%

2014

23

AAA

33.3

1

3

4.05

3.42

7.56

3.51

18.4%

8.6%

0.27

70.6%

2015

24

AAA

54.3

3

2

3.15

3.29

6.63

2.32

17.7%

6.2%

0.50

74.4%

Background: Georgia Southern University is home to some pretty big leaguers over the past several decades including Scott Fletcher, Joey Hamilton, John Tudor, and Jim Morrison. Unfortunately for Beck, his name won’t be listed among the school’s top performers. A second round pick in 2012, 76th overall, red flags started swirling about the big right-hander’s head as soon as he jumped into full season ball a year later. In 146.2 innings between Winston-Salem and Birmingham, Beck averaged a disappointingly low 4.8 punch outs per nine innings. That number edged up a bit as he spent the next season between Class AA and Class AAA, though it was still well below-average. And that’s completing disregarding his lofty draft status. Last season Beck made eight starts with Charlotte before getting the call up to Chicago. And then shit luck struck: during his May 29th start against the Orioles, Beck slipped and ended up injuring his Ulnar Nerve. He sat out a month, made two starts in Class AAA, and called it a wrap. Beck would eventually undergo the knife for Ulnar Nerve Transposition surgery, a procedure, according to reports, where the nerve is repositioned.

Projection: Prior to the injury Beck’s strikeout numbers were slowly – and I do mean slowly – edging upwards. Of course, when you start up missing as many bats as your sick grandmother toeing the rubber it can only go up from there. Anyway, Beck showed a low-90s heater, a mid-80s changeup, curveball, and slider. CAL ties him to a trio of fringy big league starters: Scott Diamonds, Jeremy Sowers, and Lucas Harrell. Yeah, that seems about right.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015 

 

10. Courtney Hawkins, LF/CF

Born: 11/12/93

Age: 22

Bats: R

Top CALs: Willy Garcia, Denny Almonte,

Trayce Thompson, Bobby Borchering, Jason Pace

Height: 6-3

Weight: 230

Throws: R

Season

Age

LVL

PA

2B

3B

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BB%

K%

wRC+

2013

19

A+

425

16

3

19

0.178

0.249

0.384

0.206

6.8%

37.6%

72

2014

20

A+

515

25

4

19

0.249

0.331

0.450

0.200

10.3%

27.8%

117

2015

21

AA

330

19

2

9

0.243

0.300

0.410

0.167

6.1%

30.3%

99

Background: Taken just a handful of picks before Lucas Giolito, Corey Seager, Michael Wacha, and Marcus Stroman, Hawkins – unfortunately – has quite lived up to his lofty draft status as the 13th overall pick. Of course, a lot of that could be – and should be – attributed to the Sox’s handling of the young outfielder. After a strong, albeit not overly impressive 38-game stint in the Appalachian League, Hawkins got pushed up to Kannapolis for 16 red-hot games before capping off his successful pro debut with five games in the Carolina League. So what does the front office do? Well, they decided to push him right back into High Class A – at the ripe age of 19 and with just under 250 plate appearances above the high school level. And he failed, miserably (.178/.249/.384). For. The. Entire. Year. Chicago opted to keep Hawkins back with Winston-Salem in 2014 with much improved production (.249/.331/.450). Last season he got the call-up to Birmingham and he basically was a league-average bat, hitting .243/.300/.410 with 19 doubles, two triples, and nine homeruns in 78 games.

Projection: It’s not difficult to see why Hawkins became a first round pick: he offers up gobs of power, can swipe a dozen or so bags, and he can handle an outfield position well enough. And it’s not difficult to see why Hawkins is heading down the path of former Chicago first rounder Jared Mitchell: he has a canyon the size of Montana in his swing. Hawkins has fanned in over 30% of his career plate appearances. He might be able to carve out a couple seasons as a backup outfielder, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: High

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

Author’s Note: All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com.



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.