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Chicago White Sox Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Chicago White Sox Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Moving forward with our mid-season reviews of our pre-season Top 20 prospect lists, we switch back to the American League with an examination of the Chicago White Sox. Remember, this is the pre-season list. It is not a new list.

This list was originally published January 19, 2012.

The next three teams on the list for review are the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals, and Chicago Cubs.

1) Addison Reed, RHP, Grade B+: 4.24 ERA with 34/12 K/BB in 34 major league innings, 30 hits, 15 saves. 2.87 FIP. Has what it takes to be a successful closer for a long time.

2) Nestor Molina, RHP, Grade B+: 4.90 ERA with 64/20 K/BB in 90 innings between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, 121 hits. I went out o a limb with this one, giving him a very aggressive grade and ranking, and right now it looks like that limb is being sawed off behind me. Went on the DL in late June with a sore elbow.

3) Tyler Saladino, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .258/.389/.362 with 33 steals, 65 walks, 68 strikeouts in 326 at-bats for Birmingham. Hasn't brought his power forward to Double-A, but draws plenty of walks and is a threat on the bases.

4) Simon Castro, RHP, Grade C+: Change of scenery is helping this former Padres prospect, 3.43 ERA with 81/20 K/BB in 105 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 103 hits. Much better command this year.

5) Trayce Thompson, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .232/.305/.460 with 17 homers, 23 doubles, 16 steals in 17 attempts for High-A Winston-Salem. Has also struck out 126 times in 367 at-bats. Impressive tools with power/speed combination, but contact is a big problem for him.

6) Hector Santiago, LHP, Grade C+: 4.15 ERA with 38/17 K/BB in 35 major league innings, 31 hits, four saves. Has some command wobbles but overall he's shown he belongs in a major league pen.

7) Jake Petricka, RHP, Grade C+: 5.34 ERA with 90/53 K/BB in 88 innings, 96 hits allowed between High-A and Double-A. 2.70 GO/AO due to his power sinker, but command needs work, curve and change are erratic.

8) Kevan Smith, C, Grade C+: .282/.346/.414 with 25 walks, 62 strikeouts in 326 at-bats for Low-A Kannapolis, has caught 35% of runners. Old for the level at age 24, but his football background could mean he has more development potential than normal.

9) Dylan Axelrod, RHP, Grade C+: 3.18 ERA with 66/18 K/BB in 68 innings in Triple-A, 59 hits. In the majors, has started six games and relieved in three, posting 5.30 ERA with 30/11 K/BB in 37 innings, 41 hits. xFIP is much better at 4.27. Although older than the normal prospect at age 27, I felt he had many of the markers of a sleeper and could have a really good "out of nowhere" rookie season. That hasn't happened.

10) Andre Rienzo, RHP, Grade C+: 2.14 ERA with 68/23 K/BB in 59 innings between High-A and Double-A, 47 hits and zero homers allowed. Was suspended early in the year for PED use. He needs sharper control, but his K/IP and H/IP are very impressive and confirm scouting reports of a fastball with tremendous movement.

11) Erik Johnson, RHP, Grade C+: 2.54 ERA with 35/18 K/BB in 39 innings for Kannapolis, 36 hits allowed, since being activated from extended spring training in June. Fastball can hit mid-90s but still harnessing breaking stuff and sharpening command, somewhat raw for a college pitcher (second round, University of California, 2011).

12) Keenyn Walker, OF, Grade C: Just promoted to High-A, hitting .285/.396/.404 with 40 steals, 51 walks, 97 strikeouts in 277 at-bats for Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. Speed and walks are a plus, still a raw hitter with strikeout problems, but has made progress with his swing.

13) Jared Mitchell, OF, Grade C: Hitting .239/.368/.442 with 13 doubles, 12 triples, 10 homers, 61 walks, 125 strikeouts in 330 at-bats. 20-for-24 in steals. Got off to a fast start but slumped in late May and hasn't recovered yet. Good news: he has his speed back, finally recovered from gruesome 2010 ankle injury. He draws walks and has shown more power this year. Bad news: his strikeout rate remains extremely high and he goes ice-cold for weeks at a time.

14) Eduardo Escobar, SS, Grade C: Hitting .203/.284/.253 with nine walks, 22 strikeouts in 79 at-bats. I don't see a lot of hope for his bat, but could stick around awhile for his defense.

15) Charlie Leesman, LHP, Grade C: 2.82 ERA with 72/39 K/BB in 93 Triple-A innings, 97 hits allowed, 1.66 GO/AO. Uses a sinker, changeup, and cutter, to good result in Triple-A. Ready for a major league trial.

16) Gregory Infante, RHP, Grade C: 3.66 ERA, 20/16 K/BB in 32 Triple-A innings, 30 hits allowed. Don't like the K/BB ratio, and currently on the disabled list.

17) Nate Jones, RHP, Grade C: 3.57 ERA with 39/18 K/BB in 40 major league innings, 41 hits. I'd like to see fewer walks, but seems like a competent middle reliever overall.

18) Jeff Soptic, RHP, Grade C: 7.06 ERA with 19/10 K/BB in 22 innings for Kannapolis, 13 hits. Throws hard but doesn't know where it is going yet.

19) Scott Snodgress, LHP, Grade C: 3.64 ERA with 84/49 K/BB in 99 innings for Kannapolis, 86 hits. Stanford product having a decent season, though needs to lower walks.

20) Jose Quintana, LHP, Grade C: 2.77 ERA with 41/14 K/BB in 49 innings for Birmingham, promoted to majors and has posted 2.30 ERA in 10 starts with 43/13 K/BB in 70 innings, 59 hits. FIP 3.37. Obviously a successful rookie season, and I think he can sustain at least average performance. A great pickup as a minor league free agent.

21) Blair Walters, LHP, Grade C: 2.88 ERA with 69/18 K/BB in 72 innings in Low-A, 61 hits. Promoted to High-A and has been less effective, 7.01 ERA with 24/4 K/BB in 26 innings but 38 hits. Control is impressive, very good slider, working on changeup. He was traded to the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon.

Although the farm system doesn't have a great reputation, the fact remains that the first place White Sox have relied on recent organization products Chris Sale and Addison Reed to anchor the pitching staff this year, with Nate Jones and Hector Santiago helping to fill out the bullpen. Jose Quintana was a great pickup as a minor league free agent, a feather in the cap of the scouting staff.

Among players not on the pre-season list, outfielder Jordan Danks reached the majors after more than two years in Triple-A. He's always had the tools but contact issues remain to be addressed. Terry Doyle has had a great year after being returned by the Twins as a rule 5 guy who didn't stick, but he still wasn't in Chicago's plans and they released him so he could pitch in Japan. Duente Heath and Jhan Marinez are live arms with Triple-A success and a chance to help the major league pen. Infielder Carlos Sanchez has had a great year in High-A at age 20, including a Futures Game appearance, and his stock is certainly rising.

2012 draftees Courtney Hawkins and Keon Barnum add big-time power to the system, while second baseman Joey DeMichele from Arizona State has played well so far and could be a fast riser. Chris Beck could be a steal in the second round if he can return to his 2011 form.