Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Chicago White Sox's Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 13, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Chicago White Sox's Farm System

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    Over the last decade, the Chicago White Sox have struggled to produce legitimate major leaguer players with the exception of Chris Sale—though he was only in the system for a few months before receiving a big league promotion.

    The White Sox’s lack of impact prospects is largely due to their drafting strategy. Rather than offering big money to high school prospects, the organization has made a habit of targeting raw, toolsy college outfielders and mid-rotation-ceiling college pitchers. In fact, of their current top 10 prospects, there are seven players who fit that mold.

    However, the White Sox deviated from the aforementioned strategy this season when they selected prep outfielder Courtney Hawkins with their first-round draft pick. And although there is intriguing talent spread throughout their system, the White Sox noticeably lack prospects capable of making an impact in the near future.

    Here’s a look at the Chicago White Sox’s top 10 prospects.

10. OF Jared Mitchell

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 10/13/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 205

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (Louisiana State)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Two-sport star at LSU with elite athleticism; was on fast-track to big leagues until collision with outfield wall during spring in 2010 resulted in season-ending ankle surgery to repair torn tendons; still has a lot of tools, but has struggled to close the gap between athleticism and raw baseball skills.

    Left-handed hitter has some pop with solid-average raw power; swing lacks fluidity at times and drags through the zone; sees a lot of pitches at the plate and draws his share of walks, but also strikes out entirely too much; still hasn’t figured out how to hit left-handed pitching; still capable of playing center field, but doesn’t have the speed or range that he once did.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Charlotte

9. RHP Chris Beck

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/4/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012 (Georgia Southern)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Appeared to be a sure-fire first-rounder headed into the spring at Georgia Southern, but struggled with his mechanics and command throughout entire season; velocity was down across the board, too; very projectable frame at 6’3”, 210 pounds; struggles to repeat arm slot which leads to overall inconsistency.

    Beck’s fastball has reached 95-96 mph in the past, but was down in the low-90s this past season; slider still has the makings of a plus pitch and should draws more swing-and-misses when thrown from a consistent slot; changeup gives him a third average-to-above-average pitch; if he regains the consistency he showed in 2011 at Georgia Southern, Beck should be able to reach his ceiling as a No. 3 starter.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Kannapolis

8. LHP Scott Snodgress

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 9/20/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 210

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2011 (Stanford)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’5” left-hander took a big step forward last season with his performances at Low and High-A; lacks experience and consistency; command needs refinement and stands to improve as he reaches higher levels; size, delivery and arm action adds deception to all his offerings.

    Fastball isn’t as hot as one would expect given his size and reach, working in the low-90s and occasionally reaching 94-95 mph; curve is arguably his best secondary pitch at the moment; has a fringy changeup with average upside, but he really struggles to command the pitch; third pitch will determine if he sticks in the rotation or moves to the bullpen before reaching the major leagues.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Winston Salem

7. OF Keenyn Walker

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 8/12/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Central Arizona College)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Highly impressive athlete at 6’3”, 195 pounds; premium, plus speed; should continue to steal more bases as his on-base skills improve; switch hitter needs to put the ball in play more often and utilize his wheels; would like to see him work deeper counts and improve his pitch recognition; will never hit for power; has the profile of a top-of-the-order hitter, but will need to eliminate the swing-and-miss in his game.

    His excellent speed translates in center field where he showcases tons of range in all directions; has a strong arm relative to the position; gets good reads and even better jumps; still an incredibly raw player overall; will take him much longer than expected to reach the major leagues.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Winston-Salem

6. RHP Andre Rienzo

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/5/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Nov. 2006 (Brazil)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Turned in a breakout 2012 season with successful stops at three different levels: High-A Winston Salem (1.08 ERA, .185 BAA), Double-A Birmingham (3.27 ERA, .207 BAA) and Triple-A Charlotte (.200 BAA); served a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs early in the season; possesses wiry strength and a loose arm at 6’3”, 180 pounds, though it may limit his durability as a starter.

    Fastball sits comfortably in the low-to-mid-90s and he’ll typically max out around 94-96 mph; secondary pitches were much more refined this past season and directly catered to his overall success; curveball is slightly above average with late, downer action; inclusion of a solid-average cutter keeps both right and left-handed hitters off his fastball; changeup is a work-in-progress and will be vital for him to start in the major leagues; if not, he still has a career as a late-inning reliever.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Charlotte

5. 1B Keon Barnum

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 1/16/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 225

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (King HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Left-handed hitter with plus-plus raw power; lofty bat path yields tape-measure shots, especially to his pull side; at 6’5”, 225 pounds, Barnum is a presence in the batter’s box; power is his only plus tool, but it’s a loud one; lacks an approach and chases breaking balls with consistency; unnecessarily expands strike zone; has the reach to hit bad pitches; will have to simplify swing if he ever wants to hit for average.

    First-base-only prospect; raw defensively with average overall arm strength; footwork is inconsistent around the bag, but should improve with experience; epitome of a high-risk, high-reward prospect; ability to make adjustments will determine how quickly he reaches the major leagues and if he can stay there.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Kannapolis

4. RHP Erik Johnson

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/30/1989 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 240

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2011 (California)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Was excellent this past season at both Low-A (2.30 ERA, .232 BAA) and High-A Winston-Salem (2.74 ERA, .225 BAA); large, durable frame at 6’3”, 240 pounds; has an impressive arsenal that he’s still gaining a feel for; will need to refine secondary pitches as he develops.

    Fastball usually sits in low-to-mid-90s with some life to the arm side; throws a pair of impressive breaking balls in a slider with tilt and sharp break, and a curveball with some downer action; still gaining a feel for his changeup, which should be at least an average pitch by the time he reaches the major leagues.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Birmingham

3. INF Carlos Sanchez

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    Position: INF

    DOB: 6/29/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 175

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: May, 2009 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Was regarded as a glove-first infielder when signed in 2009; bat has really come around over the last year; switch-hitter has an above-average hit tool from both sides of the plate; short, compact swing that yields line drives to all fields; has a knack for putting the ball in play; grinds0out at-bats; successful base stealer who gets solid jumps and knows how to read pitchers.

    Defense may be calling card, as he’s capable of playing every infield position; future is most likely at second base, though he has the arm to see significant time at either third base or shortstop; quick hands and reactions; love how he positions his body towards target on defense; turns a smooth double play.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Charlotte

2. OF Trayce Thompson

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 3/15/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009 (Santa Margarita Catholic HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Athletic bloodline as father and brother all played in the NBA; enjoyed breakout season in 2012, opening the year at High-A and finishing in Triple-A; highly impressive athlete who fills out a uniform; swing is long and his bat can drag though the zone on an upper-cut plane; chases breaking pitches out of the zone; questionable whether he’ll be able to touch good velocity; too much swing-and-miss, which will probably always be a part of his game; offensive tools are there but lacks overall consistency.

    Natural center fielder with above-average speed; has the arm strength to move to right field if needed; defense was improved last season; more consistent reads; good instinct allows him to play the position aggressively; a lot to like as a power-speed player, but still has a long way to go in order to be serviceable in the majors.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Birmingham

1. OF Courtney Hawkins

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 11/12/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 220

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Mary Carroll HS, Texas)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Big, physically strong player at 6’3”, 220 pounds; excellent athlete who moves better than expected; plus raw power thanks to excellent bat speed and a leveraged swing; has a tendency to overswing which leads to excessive strikeouts; pitch recognition should improve with experience; has above-average speed but will probably never be a base stealer.

    Strongest defensive asset is his plus arm; also received looks on the mound as an amateur due to low-90s fastball; will probably continue to be developed as center fielder, but he’ll likely have to move to right field as he physically matures; high ceiling given his athleticism and present skill set, but won't be rushed to the majors.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Winston-Salem