6 Chicago White Sox Prospects Who Could Surprise in 2013
The Chicago White Sox had their fair share of prospects make significant contributions during the 2012 season. And if the White Sox hope to build off of last year’s successes, more than one prospect will need to surprise them in 2013.
It's going to be hard to top what happened during Robin Ventura's first season managing the White Sox, though.
See, during the 2012 campaign, the list of rookies who made an impact was as lengthy as it was unexpected.
Addison Reed, Jose Quintana, Hector Santiago, Donnie Veal and Nate Jones led a group of young pitchers who will figure greatly into the team’s future.
The rookies were needed, and they delivered in a big way.
So, can the White Sox expect to receive the same type of surprise contributions in 2013 from their current collection of minor league prospects?
Well, there are six that stand at the front of the line when the need arises.
Who Are We Talking About Here?
This list analyzes prospects that have the greatest chance of making a noteworthy contribution during the 2013 season.
It does not include prospects at a few select positions.
Keon Barnum, for example, did not make this list because he is blocked at the major league level by Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and even Jeff Keppinger.
So, while he was ranked as the No. 9 prospect at first base by MLB.com, he will most likely not arrive on the South Side until at least 2015.
The White Sox also have a very deep pool of outfield prospects. Like Barnum, though, they will likely not get called up because of the depth at the major league level.
No offense to Jared Mitchell—or Courtney Hawkins, who recently checked in as the No. 68 prospect in baseball—but 2014 is most likely when they will patrol the outfield grass for the White Sox.
The list will start with pitching prospects and then look at the position players.
6. Scott Snodgress
Although he only made it as far as High-A Winston-Salem last season, Scott Snodgress is a name White Sox fans should get familiar with.
The 6’5” southpaw out of Stanford can be intimidating on the mound.
According to Mark Anderson from BaseballProspectNation.com, Snodgress “can sit in the low-90s with his fastball and has touched 94 in the past.” Anderson continues that the 23-year-old complements his fastball with a curveball that he can use “as a weapon against left-handed hitters.”
His 2012 stat line was quite impressive. Overall, he posted a 3.00 ERA while striking out 128 and holding opponents to a .217 BAA.
Now, while he was used exclusively as a starter last season, Snodgress best fit may be as a left-handed specialist.
And if one of the starting pitchers goes down—which could force the White Sox to move either Hector Santiago or Jose Quintana into the rotation—look for Snodgress to be called up and assume the role of situational lefty along with Matt Thornton.
5. Charlie Leesman
It seems that Charlie Leesman has been waiting in the wings for some time now.
Last season at Triple-A Charlotte, Leesman put up some solid numbers. He went 12-10 with a 2.47 ERA and a .255 BAA.
He is by no means an overpowering pitcher, but he has a deceptive delivery, and Baseball America recognized him as having the “Best Changeup in the White Sox system” the past two seasons.
The good folks at Future Sox point out that there are some areas of concern, though. They noted that Leesman “doesn’t strike out a ton of batters,” and that he lacks “the secondary stuff of a top prospect.”
Both are valid points, but as a back-of-the-rotation starter, his ability to keep the ball on the ground may fit perfectly into pitching at U.S Cellular Field.
It does not take much to envision Leesman providing some quality starts for the White Sox as the year progresses.
4. Jhan Marinez
Jhan Marinez has all of the tools to become a star for the White Sox.
He held opponents to a .177 BAA against last season at Triple-A while striking out 65 batters in 63.0 innings over the course of 40 appearances.
He is almost exclusively a fastball pitcher, and for good reason.
ScoutingBook.com wrote that Marinez has a “power fastball that can touch 98, but he has more success with his two-seamer, a 92 mph offering with exceptional movement.”
They went on to note that “his change and slider still need to improve,” but “he has so much raw talent that he's bound to make it sooner or later.”
Expect it to be sooner, especially considering that he spent some time with the White Sox last year. If one of the right-handed setup men struggle—or get hurt—Marinez will more than likely be the first one called up.
His stuff is akin to what Nate Jones possesses, and we all know how well that went.
3. Andre Rienzo
Andre Rienzo has seen it all over the past year.
From being suspended 50 games for a positive PED test, to a solid stint in the Arizona Fall League, to pitching for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic, Rienzo has persevered.
The 24-year-old has developed a plus curveball and has been working on a cutter to go with a fastball that, according to PaleHoseProspectus.com, “can reach the mid-90’s.”
At three minor league stops last year, Rienzo compiled a 7-3 record, 2.53 ERA and a .206 BAA to go along with 113 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. He was impressive on each level.
If Gavin Floyd’s elbow acts up again, or if Jake Peavy finds himself on the disabled list, Rienzo should be the first right-hander called up.
He could either slide into the open rotation spot, or take over the long-relief role while Dylan Axelrod moves into the starting five.
No offense to Erik Johnson, but Rienzo is more polished and is ready to make the jump to the big leagues now.
2. Josh Phegley
Josh Phegley is ready to make the team out of spring training.
Last season, Phegley dominated behind the plate. He threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers en route to the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
The Triple-A Charlotte Knights official team page had this to say about the young prospect’s defensive prowess.
The 24-year-old led all International League catchers with a .996 fielding percentage. Phegley, who caught 96 games for the Knights, also had an International League best 772 putouts. He committed just three errors in 834 total chances.
From an offensive perspective, he has his strengths and weaknesses.
While he stroked 22 doubles last season, his OBP was only .306, and he does not hit for a whole lot of power. He did have a .983 OPS in August, however, and hit four home runs over his final 10 games.
While Tyler Flowers has been penciled in to replace A.J. Pierzynski, Phegley may have a chance to win the job this spring.
If he doesn’t, and Flowers struggles early in the season, expect a June arrival on the South Side.
1. Carlos Sanchez
What hasn’t been said about Carlos Sanchez?
Sanchez hit .323 in the minor leagues last season with a .378 OBP and 26 stolen bases. He followed that up by hitting .299 and amassing a .735 OPS in the Arizona Fall League and then hit .303 in the Venezuelan Winter League.
At worst, Sanchez is the offensive equivalent of Gordon Beckham who can hit from both sides of the plate. At best, he is a long-term solution at second base who adds another dimension—speed.
As recently as Tuesday, White Sox beat writer Scott Merkin noted that the team is still looking for a left-handed bat. Simply put, Sanchez fits what the team needs in more ways than one and is a fantastic option to round out the batting order
If he does not win the job this spring, Sanchez will no doubt be making meaningful contributions before the All-Star break.