Josh Phegley has gone from unranked to...?
The first two days of the 2013 first-year player draft brought the Chicago White Sox a welcomed infusion of talent to the minor leagues.
Welcomed is an understatement, actually. The draft rewrote the White Sox’s top 15 prospect rankings.
To be sure, it was not very difficult to do. The farm system—which is generally regarded as one of the worst in baseball—needed help in almost every area.
So, with the influx of draft picks, a fresh set of rankings is in order.
For players currently with a White Sox affiliate, their production in 2013 will be used as the ranking criteria. This means that players like Courtney Hawkins—who was the No. 1 ranked prospect according to FanGraphs.com when the season began—have dropped substantially.
Ranking players who were just drafted is bit more difficult, but a combination of scouting reports will be used to determine their slot.
Here is B/R’s breakdown of the top 15 White Sox prospects following the 2013 draft, beginning with one player who no longer makes the list after opening the season in the top 15.
Andre Rienzo has not been good this season.
Andre Rienzo has been terrible after opening the season as the No. 7 prospect.
Last season, Rienzo threw 128.0 innings and finished with a 2.95 ERA. So far this season, he has a staggering 6.01 ERA, and his 1.63 WHIP is a serious concern.
There were high hopes within the organization that Rienzo would build off of last season’s successes and develop into the type of pitcher capable of making the jump to the majors as early as 2014.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, he has gone backward.
With the 91st pick in this year’s draft, the White Sox selected Coastal Carolina’s Jacob May. The switch-hitting center fielder immediately takes his place as the 15th best prospect for the Sox.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Rosenbaum had this to say about May:
This year, the junior has continued to build off his successful 2012 season, as he batted .324/.417/.495 with 21 extra-base hits (seven home runs), 16 stolen bases and 26/22 K/BB in 59 games. However, despite the career-best numbers, May didn’t show the overall growth needed to boost his draft stock. For example, even though he swiped 16 bags, he was also thrown out 10 times.
Rosenbaum goes on to note that May has “average arm strength” for a center fielder, but that he could be on the 25-man roster by 2016, which says a lot about his potential.
While the outfield is a supposed area of strength for the White Sox, they could not pass up on May’s athleticism.
Dan Black is off to a fantastic start this season.
Dan Black has risen to the occasion this year for the Birmingham Barons.
One year removed from being named the Carolina League MVP, Black is adjusting well to Double-A pitching.
Black has hit left-handers to the tune of .308 this season, and he has an impressive .394 BA with runners in scoring position. On the season, the 25-year-old switch-hitting first baseman is hitting .289 with six home runs, 40 RBI and a .411 OBP.
Even after his performance in 2012, Black was left off many of the prospect lists before the season began.
If Black continues to play the way that he has, he could easily find his way into Triple-A by the end of the year. And with that, he may finally get the recognition he deserves.
Keon Barnum is in a world of hurt.
After recovering from hand surgery in March, he strained his knee before reporting to Kannapolis, via Mark Gonzales’s Twitter feed.
Nevertheless, Barnum has a powerful swing and bats left-handed. Both of those bode well for him.
More will be revealed when he finally returns, but until then, he checks in at No. 13.
Jared Mitchell has regressed at the plate.
Jared Mitchell’s star is fading fast. After opening the season as the White Sox’s No. 11 prospect, he has struggled all year.
Mitchell began the season at Triple-A, but was demoted after hitting a mere .132 and collecting 27 strikeouts in only 65 plate appearances.
He did not respond well to being sent down to Double-A. He is currently hitting .164 and has already struck out 20 times in 17 games.
That, in a nutshell, is the issue. His approach at the plate is not consistent enough to make contact on a regular basis.
Until Mitchell shortens his swing and sees more pitches, the former first-round pick will languish in the minor leagues.
Micah Johnson, a second baseman for the Single-A Kannapolis Intimidators, is doing just about all he can to get promoted.
Not only in Johnson batting .315 with 103 total bases, 55 runs scored and 32 walks in 55 games, but he leads the South Atlantic League with 47 stolen bases in 61 attempts.
At a root level, he manufactures runs.
He does need to improve his defense, though, if he hopes to stay at second. Simply put, the 17 errors he has committed to this point in the season will not do. If he continues to kick the ball around the infield, he may find himself as a corner outfielder.
A ninth-round pick in 2012, Johnson has quickly earned a spot as one of the top White Sox prospects.
Scott Snodgress has the stuff; he just has to use it.
Scott Snodgress has the potential, but is a little slow on the uptake.
This is part of Hulet’s scouting report prior to the season:
Snodgress needs to learn to use his height to his advantage on a more consistent basis. His fastball wanders up in the zone too much at times and he needs to keep a good downward plane on his pitches to increase his ground-ball rate.
Unfortunately, not much has changed.
The left-hander’s fastball has remained "up in the zone," which has been a contributing factor to his struggles this year. He has already issued 24 walks and has given up 60 hits in only 66.1 innings pitched.
If Snodgress can find the bottom of the zone more often, he is sure to shine. Until then, however, he remains a middle-of-the-pack prospect.
Keenyn Walker has had his offensive production go down in just about every single area this season.
In 2012, for example, Walker was fairly productive. He drew 74 walks, collected 56 stolen bases and had a .378 on-base percentage during stops at Low and High-A.
2013 is a different story. His slash line (.208/.328/.277) is hardly impressive, and he has regressed in both the number of walks drawn (28) and steals (21) in 202 at-bats.
The bane of his existence is the off-speed pitch. It is a pitch he seemingly refuses to lay off of, yet rarely makes contact with.
Much like other outfield prospects in the White Sox farm system, Walker has the tools, but he has failed to put them into a usable package.
Chris Beck has had an up-and-down season for the Dash, but has done enough to hold on to his No. 8 ranking.
Beck’s record (5-6) is not the greatest, but he does have a 3.09 ERA in 11 starts.
To be sure, Beck is not without his limitations. He has already issued 25 walks in just 62.0 innings pitched, but has been able to induce enough ground balls to limit the damage.
Another indication of the inconsistency is that left-hander hitters are batting .271 against him, but when runners are in scoring position, he holds them to a .193 BAA, according to MiLB.com.
If Beck can cut down on the walks—while continuing to manage tenuous situations as well as he has—the improvement in his overall metrics should be fairly rapid.
The fact that he has earned a victory in three straight starts does not hurt, either.
The White Sox selected Tyler Danish out of Durant High School in Plant City, Florida with the 55th pick on Thursday.
Danish, who finished his senior season with a 15-1 record, is going to be a special pitcher. MLB.com’s White Sox beat writer Scott Merkin cited an internal scouting report when describing the right-hander after he was selected:
His look on video resembles the South Siders' own Jake Peavy, while the scouting report mentions that some compare Danish's arm action to Oakland's Pat Neshek. Danish, who stands 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, throws a fastball in the low 90s, along with a slider that "provides good contrast to hitters," the scouting report continues.
Danish tossed 94.0 innings in 2013 and gave up one unearned run all season. While his size (6’1”, 190 lbs) could be a concern, he is only 18 and should fill out nicely.
Before I forget, MaxPreps.com noted that Danish hit .411 in 33 games for Durant. So, yeah, the kid is good.
It is time for Trayce Thompson to cash in on his considerable talent.
Trayce Thompson is yet another promising outfielder who is not producing the results the White Sox had hoped.
In 57 games for the Birmingham Barons, Thompson is hitting a meager .235, but has drawn 37 walks and scored 41 runs. His ability to get reach safely via the base on balls is a definite bonus, but he needs to make more contact in order to capitalize on his talent.
The switch-hitter has raw power, hitting as many as 25 home runs in a season, but has only hit five this season.
He is a plus defender, but must improve at the plate.
While still only 22, Thompson has been in the minor leagues for five seasons, and the time for him to rise above mediocrity is now.
Carlos Sanchez is struggling a bit this year.
Carlos Sanchez has dropped a few spots after opening the season as the No. 2 prospect.
He has simply failed to build upon the momentum he created last year.
Across three levels in 2012, Sanchez hit .320, walked 50 times and stole 37 bases. His presence on the field reminded Hulet of “Yankee great Derek Jeter.”
2013 has been a different story. He is hitting a pedestrian .233 and has only collected nine stolen bases. Worse yet, he has been thrown out five times.
No doubt, the kid is talented, but he has regressed statistically in almost every category.
Sanchez is still being counted on to grow as a player and one day occupy one of the middle-infield positions.
Courtney's stock is rapidly falling.
After opening the season as the No. 1 prospect on most lists, Courtney Hawkins now checks in at No. 4.
Hawkins is currently hitting .196 with 10 HR and 25 RBI for the High-A Winston-Salem Dash. Most concerning, though, is his inability to make contact.
He has struck out an astonishing 54 times in only 102 at-bats. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s 52.9 percent of the time.
Hawkins only ranks as high as he does because he has immense potential and is a rather slick-fielding defender. He needs to cut down on his swing and become more selective at the plate, though, if he hopes to reach the big leagues.
Taken with the 17th pick in the 2013 first-year player draft, Tim Anderson has a chance to be a star.
According to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) website, Anderson led all JUCO ballplayers in batting average (.495) and on-base percentage (.568), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.879). He also stole 41 bases and scored 63 runs over the course of 53 games.
His ability to get on base with his on-base percentage as well as his ability to take extra bases, that’s one of the things that we thought was really exciting about him.
His instincts for the game were just off the chart. He didn’t need to look at base coaches in order to find out if the ball behind him was bobbled or something. He had very good awareness on the field, and we think he’s got a chance to be a special player.
While a ranking this high may be unexpected, he instantly makes the top five among White Sox prospects based on ability and amateur production.
The time for Josh Phegley to join the 25-man roster may be upon us.
There’s not much Josh Phegley isn’t doing for the Charlotte Knights.
He is hitting .324 with 12 home runs, 35 RBI, 15 doubles and 110 total bases. Oh, he also has an OPS of 1.009. He has been the most consistent hitter in the entire farm system.
Offensive production aside, Phegley’s greatest attribute is his defense.
One year removed from winning the 2012 Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award, he has .992 fielding percentage and has thrown out 18 of 44 would-be base stealers.
He got off to a torrid start and has not slowed down. Given the struggles of Tyler Flowers, Phegley may be added to the 25-man roster rather soon.
Production pays off. Erik Johnson is the No. 1 rated prospect.
Erik Johnson ranks No.1 because he has earned it.
On the season, Johnson is 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 65 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 74.2 innings pitched.
The secret to his success this season has been the changeup. MiLB.com’s Guy Cutright wrote in May that Johnson spent quite a bit of time working on it this offseason. The results are a more well-rounded arsenal and the ability to keep hitters off-balance.
A winner of four straight, he has held right-handed hitters to a .176 BAA and has only given up 18 hits with runners on base, per MiLB.com.
He has been the most dominant pitcher in the White Sox organization.