Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago White Sox's Top 10 Prospects
The Chicago White Sox farm system typically receives few accolades. That is a bit surprising since the White Sox routinely have more than one minor league product per season contribute in a large way.
Look no further than 2012 when Nate Jones, Addison Reed and Dayan Viciedo—among others—were at the front of a second-place finish in the AL Central for the White Sox.
This is the first in a series of pieces that will look at which direction the stock for the White Sox’s top 10 prospects (per BaseballAmerica.com) is heading—up, down or holding steady.
To be sure, it is very early. Their production to this point may not be indicative of where each player will end the season, but they are worth taking a look at.
Stats are current as of April 8.
Stats: 1GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
In 4.2 innings of work, Beck did not give up an earned run but was the victim of some poor defense as the Dash lost to the Carolina Mudcats.
He struck out three and only allowed four hits but was unable to pitch around three fifth-inning errors.
One area of concern for the Georgia Southern product is his control. He continues to have trouble finding the strike zone and walked three batters. The control problems must be fixed if he hopes to capitalize on his potential.
It was only his first appearance at the High-A level after being selected in the second round of last year’s draft, though. Patience will be very important for the young right-hander.
Continued outings like his first one should cause his stock to rise.
Stats: 5 games, 25 AB, .105 BA, 2 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB, 9 Ks
Jared Mitchell went on a tear during spring training. He hit .387, roped two triples, stole seven bases and finished with a 1.151 OPS. It was impressive.
Unfortunately, he left his bat in Glendale.
Over the course of 25 plate appearances for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, Mitchell is hitting a less-than-robust .105. On a positive note, he has drawn five walks. Of great concern, however, are his nine strikeouts.
It appears to be simply a matter of making contact.
While it appears Mitchell—who was a first-round pick in the 2009 draft—has unlimited potential, he will need to put his bat on the baseball much more often. If he cannot, I would expect to see him drop out of the top 10 when the next batch of rankings is made available.
Barnum, who signed a $950,000 bonus after the White Sox selected him 48th overall in last summer's MLB Draft, had surgery to remove the hamate bone from his right hand. The average recovery time for the injury is six weeks, a team official said.
Hayes also noted that when Barnum returns, “he is expected to open the season at Single-A Kannapolis."
This is the second season in a row that Barnum has missed significant time. No doubt, he has potential, but he needs to stay healthy.
We shall see.
Stats: 1 GS, 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Andre Rienzo appeared in two games with the White Sox during spring training and was shelled (seven earned runs in 3.0 innings).
He has picked up where he left off for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights.
In the first game of a doubleheader last Saturday, Rienzo (0-0, 9.00 ERA) gave up six runs—of which five were earned—in 5.0 innings. He was able to strike out five, but served up two home runs and generally looked unimpressive.
The official team site for the Knights noted that it was just his second start at the Triple-A level. The Brazilian has not pitched very well, however, since the end of last year.
Stats: 1 GS, 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
He did give up his share of hits but stayed out of the big inning and pitched well enough to collect his first win of the season.
With a plus curveball and a developing straight change, the Stanford product has a chance to do some nice things this season. He needs to continue working on his off-speed pitches to compliment a low-90s fastball.
If he can string together a couple of nice starts in succession, a promotion to Triple-A is in line, as well as a late-season appearance in the big leagues.
His stock could go up quite quickly.
Stats: 5 G, .167 BA, 3 H, 1 RBI, 3 SB, 3 BB, 7 K
Keenyn Walker had a fair spring, compiling a .240 batting average in 25 at-bats. Thus far at Double-A, however, he has struggled.
Breaking pitches continue to be the bane of his existence. With a bit more discipline at the plate, Walker should be able to utilize his plus speed.
Make no mistake about it, he can fly. He has only reached base six times so far and has already stolen three bases in four attempts.
His defense is not in question, Walker simply needs to work on a consistent approach at the dish. He is sure to put in some extra time with hitting coach Gary Ward.
If he cannot improve his metrics, the luster on Walker’s star may begin to fade.
Stats: 1 GS, 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3K
Erik Johnson looked very good in his first start at Double-A. He used his slider effectively enough to keep hitters off balance but did have some command issues.
Johnson ran into a bit of trouble—which elevated his pitch count—and was pulled a bit early, but he looked very sharp at times. He pitched well enough to win but left with a no decision.
At two levels last season, Johnson compiled a 2.53 ERA and 87 K over 92.1 innings. Big things are expected of him this season based on his past performance.
His stock will continue to rise if he can maintain his consistency, and he could be with the White Sox as early as next season.
Stats: 4 G, 20 AB, .333 BA, 5 H, 4 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 1 K
After a rough spring training, Carlos Sanchez is back to doing what he does best—getting on base and scoring runs.
His performance last Monday against the Norfolk Tides was just electric. During the 21-4 victory, Sanchez had three hits, scored three times and collected three RBI.
No doubt, Sanchez failed to capitalize on his opportunity in Arizona, but perhaps that was because he was putting too much pressure on himself.
Getting back to basics will bode well for the young infielder. A rapid advancement to Triple-A is not out of the question. Time will tell with Sanchez, but the organization is very high on his abilities.
Stats: 5 G, .158 BA, 3 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 K
Trayce Thompson continues to struggle and may be playing himself down the list.
Thompson possesses a fantastic skill set that includes plus speed and power. That said, he can strike out often and has never hit for a high average.
He is second on the Barons in at-bats, total bases and slugging percentage yet is also at the bottom of the roster in batting average.
He is a hit-and-miss player. Unfortunately, he is missing more often than not at the moment.
While Thompson was drafted in 2009, he is only 22 years old, so time is on his side. Potential is one thing, though. He needs to put together some solid at-bats.
Stats: 3 G, 10 AB, .100 BA, 1 H, 1 SB, 0 BB, 6 K
Courtney Hawkins is having a real hard time at High-A Winston-Salem. It may be that he is pressing a bit too much.
The most glaring problem is that Hawkins is not making any type of real contact. He has already struck out six times in only 19 at-bats. And when he does make contact, it has been—so far, at least—quite weak.
He has been overmatched at the plate and has generally looked out of sorts.
Recently ranked as the No. 68 prospect in baseball, the White Sox are trying to take it slow with him.
The former first-round pick out of Carroll HS is a five-tool player with nearly unlimited potential, and at only 19, he has time to grow.
That said, improvement is essential for Hawkins.