DECEMBER 3RD UPDATE: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/88688-vazquez-trade-shakes-up-farm
Chicago White Sox 2009 Top-Five Prospects
1. Gordon Beckham, 2B/SS, 9/16/1986
A poor 2007 season left the White Sox with the eighth pick in the 2008 draft and they used it to select Beckham, an offensive-minded middle infielder out of the University of Georgia.
Beckham had a fine professional debut. For Low-A Kannapolis, he hit .310/.365/.500 in 58 at bats and followed that up with a .394/.468/.652 line in 66 AB while playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Beckham is expected to be a quick mover. The most optimistic estimates have him appearing in Chicago in mid-2009. The more cautious pundits expect Beckham to debut in 2010.
Beckham was drafted as a shortstop, but it's debatable if he stays there long term. Others see him eventually moving to second base—with Alexei Ramirez, Chicago's second baseman last season, playing shortstop.
Beckham has the potential to be an impact player in the majors and is seen as a relatively low-risk prospect, but one with a relatively high ceiling.
2. Aaron Poreda, LHP, 10/1/1986
Lefthanders who can consistently reach the mid-to-upper 90's usually don't fall to the 25th pick in the draft, but that's what happened to Poreda in 2007.
Poreda, who was raw for a college product, has a great fastball, but lacks secondary stuff and some believe his ultimate role will be out of the bullpen.
The 6'6" lefty split last season between High-A Winston-Salem and AA-Birmingham. He made 27 starts and threw 161 innings, allowing 148 hits and 40 walks. He struck out 118.
Poreda spent time in the Arizona Fall League and appeared in 10 games—all out of the bullpen. He didn't allow a run in eight of those games, but coughed up eight runs in the other two games.
The bullpen stint in the AFL could suggest the White Sox are rethinking Poreda's role and a move to the pen would get him to the majors faster.
Incumbent big-league closer Bobby Jenks is reportedly on the trade block, so this is a situation worth watching in the coming months.
Regardless of his role, Poreda should be in the majors by the middle of the 2010 season. If he's coming out of the bullpen, he could appear in 2009.
3. Dayan Viciedo, 3B, 3/10/1989
Viciedo defected from Cuba earlier this year and has agreed to a five-year major league deal with Chicago. The deal is believed to be worth $11 million.
Viciedo's presence gives Chicago three Cuban born players—the other two being Jose Contreras and Ramirez.
Viciedo is regarded as one of the top prospects in Cuba and hit .337 with 14 homers as a 16-year-old playing at the top level in the country.
There's a belief that he could begin next season at the hot corner for Chicago.
Last year's starter, Joe Crede, won't be back. Josh Fields, formerly one of the better prospects in the organization, has seemingly fallen out of favor. Wilson Betemit, acquired in the trade that sent Nick Swisher to the Yankees, could be an option at third as well.
Viciedo could also end up in right field. His body has gotten bigger over the years and a move to the outfield might be necessary.
Jermaine Dye has been Chicago's right fielder for the last several seasons and his name has been thrown around in trade talks this winter.
Viciedo's agent Jaime Torres said in a recent Chicago Sun-Times article that "scouts have told me that there's no reason that he shouldn't be hitting 35-40 home runs a year."
4. Brandon Allen, 1B, 2/12/1986
Allen has been slow to develop since being drafted out of high school in 2004, but he's come on in the last couple years.
A hulking presence at 6'2" and 235 pounds, Allen had a breakout season in 2008, spending time with Winston-Salem and Birmingham.
In 472 at bats, he ripped 32 doubles and clubbed 29 homers while hitting a combined .278 with 60 walks and 124 K.
For a big man, he showed surprising speed, legging out six triples and going 17-for-21 in stolen base attempts.
He's shown an improving eye at the plate—in 44 fewer AB in 2008, he drew 21 more walks than he did in 2007 and he played in higher levels last year.
Allen will likely spend 2009 with AAA-Charlotte and could be an option at 1B/DH in 2010.
Paul Konerko and Jim Thome currently man those spots—the former being signed through 2010 and the latter through 2009.
5. Chris Getz, 2B, 8/30/1983
Getz was drafted in the fifth round in the 2005 draft and has little left to prove in the minors.
Getz spent all of last season with Charlotte and hit .306 with a line of .366/.448/.814. He collected 36 extra base hits and went 11-for-15 in stolen base attempts.
He made his big league debut in August and collected a pair of hits in seven at bats the rest of the way.
His best asset is his strike zone discipline. He struck out just 53 times last year and only 142 times in 1,428 career minor league AB. Last year was the first time he ended a season with more strikeouts (53) than walks (41).
With Ramirez moving to short, Getz might challenge Betemit and Jayson Nix for the second base job. He could end up being a stop gap until Beckham is ready.
Getz isn't a big upside guy, but should be at least a long term utility guy.
NOTE: Only players with no more than 130 AB/50 IP in the majors qualify for this list.