Want the recipe to my "secret sauce" of evaluating prospects? Give that mouse of yours a click right here for a detailed breakdown of the process.
The Grading System
My grading system will be familiar to those who keep up with college football recruiting or played the MLB2K video game series as I use a star rating system from one to five stars with half grades in between. An outline of what each level would represent looks like this, but remember these are examples and not definite.
The cream of the crop. A five star rating is reserved for the elite talents of the minor leagues. These players do not have a glaring weakness and if there is a blemish on their record, it is miniscule. Don't expect to see many of these, as this is reserved for players with the best chance to become super stars or top of the rotation stalwarts. Call this a 75-80 or A rating.
The rest of the elite. A 4.5 star rating encompasses players that are still elite, but not the potential mega stars a five star player would have. Receiving a 4.5 star rating means the player has all-star caliber potential with a good chance of being in a contending team's starting line up and have a long career. A 4.5 star pitcher could be generalized as a future #2 or 3 starter. Equal to 60-70 or A-/B+ type.
Garnering a four star rating means the player has the potential to be a productive major leaguer with an all-star season or two in his career. Four star players should develop into regulars in the lineup, dominant relief arms or a mid-rotation starters. This kind of player may have a true talent level higher but injuries may hold him back from reaching their full potential. Similar to a B/B- or 50-55 rated player.
A player receiving 3.5 stars projects to see time as starters in the majors, but more than likely on a team out of the playoff picture where a below-average season once in awhile won't kill them. Innings eating strike throwers would fall into this category, as would set up men and defensive-oriented starters. This would be a 45 or B-type of player.
Three star players are your 4th outfielders and relievers with live arms and control problems. Hitters who may lack enough tools to hold down a starting gig, futures as a platoon players, and swing men types capable of spot starting would be three star players. Recent IFA's with little or no track record usually are included here as well. A low 45/high 40 grade or C+/C type player would fall here.
Not every one gets to collect MLB paychecks, but some get them every once in awhile. 2.5 star players are your up and down guys who shuttle between the big leagues and AAA. September cups of coffee cielings fall here, as are the injury replacements and players riding the waiver wire. These players aren't expected to make any serious impact. 40 grade players and C type or lower organizational filler.
Anything below 2.5 stars is someone who doesn't project to be a major league player, therefore they are not mentioned.
Previous Team Ranks and #1 Prospects
Atlanta Braves - 2B Jose Peraza
Miami Marlins - RHP Tyler Kolek
New York Mets - RHP Noah Syndergaard
Philadelphia Phillies - SS JP Crawford
Washington Nationals - RHP Lucas Giolito
Baltimore Orioles - RHP Dylan Bundy
Boston Red Sox - 2B Yoan Moncada
New York Yankees - RHP Luis Severino
Tampa Bay Rays - SS Willy Adames
Toronto Blue Jays - RHP Aaron Sanchez
With the grading system and previous rankings out of the way now, we can crack open the AL Central and get things started with the Chicago White Sox. Here are the top 20 prospects in the White Sox organization for the 2015 season. All ages are how old they will be for the upcoming season and affiliates mentioned are where I expect them to begin the year.
Chicago White Sox
With Opening Day right around the corner, I'm facing a time crunch that won't allow me to do a breakdown for each player. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about any rankings or lack thereof, leave a comment.
1. LHSP Carlos Rodon - 22 years old, AAA Charlotte
Photo Courtesy of Lisa Blumenfield//Getty Images
2014 Stats (R, A+, and AAA) -
2015 Outlook -
As much as Rodon deserves to crack the rotation, there is a slim chance of that happening due to similar service time issues as another prospect from a Chicago team, Kris Bryant. Depending on how the Sox feel about Super 2 status, Rodon could be in the big leagues as soon as two weeks into the season. If they want to make sure he doesn't get an extra turn through arbitration, they could wait until June to promote him.
2. SS Tim Anderson - 22 years old, AA Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Jody Stewart/Winston-Salem Dash
2014 Stats (R, A+, and AA) -
2015 Outlook -
Anderson spent most of the 2014 campaign with A+ Winston-Salem and was so impressive the front office had him finish the year off with a 10 game stint at AA Birmingham. That's his likely jumping off point this year as he hit well in the Carolina League despite a hyper-aggressive approach. Let's all hope he cracks double digits in walks this year.
3. RHSP Spencer Adams - 19 years old, Low A Kannapolis
Photo courtesy of Brian Carter/3NOutSports
2014 Stats (R) -
2015 Outlook -
Some weren't sure how well Adams would transition from small time high school ball to the pro ranks. He demolished the Arizona League and showed enough to jump the Pioneer League and start the year with Low A Kannapolis. I could see him taking a similar accelerated development path as Tyler Danish.
4. RHSP Francellis Montas - 22 years old, AA Birmingham
5. RHSP Tyler Danish - 20 years old, A+ Winston-Salem
6. 2B Micah Johnson - 24 years old, MLB Chicago
7. RHSP Chris Beck - 24 years old, MLB Chicago
8. 2B Carlos Sanchez - 23 years old, AAA Charlotte
9. 3B Trey Michalczewski - 20 years old, A+ Winston-Salem
10. RHSP David Trexler - 24 years old, Low A Kannapolis
11. LF Courtney Hawkins - 21 years old, AA Birmingham
12. RF Micker Adolfo - 18 years old, R+ Great Falls
13. LHSP Jace Fry - 21 years old, Low A Kannapolis
14. CF Jacob May - 23 years old, AA Birmingham
15. SS Tyler Saladino - 25 years old, AAA Charlotte
16. RHSP JB Wendelken - 22 years old, A+ Winston-Salem
17. LHSP Brian Clark - 22 years old, Low A Kannapolis
18. RHSP James Dykstra - 24 years old, AA Birmingham
19. CF Adam Engel - 23 years old, A+ Winston-Salem
20. LHSP Andre Wheeler - 23 years old, A+ Winston-Salem
Honorable Mentions (three star players, in no particular order) - RHP Luis Martinez, LHP Jordan Guerrero, LHP Chris Freudenberg, RHP Tanner Mendonca, RHP Tyler Barnette, RHP David Putman, LHP Devon Davis, RHP Nolan Sanburn, CF Trayce Thompson, RF Jason Coats, 3B Matt Davidson, SS Cleluis Rondon, 2B Jake Peter, 1B Keon Barnum, LF Antonio Rodriguez, SS Johan Cruz
|Chicago White Sox||Age||Pos||Team||Stars|
Team Codes: AAA - Charlotte Knights, AA - Birmingham Barons, A+ - Winston-Salem Dash, A - Kannapolis Intimidators, R+ - Great Falls Voyagers, R - Arizona League White Sox, DSL - Dominican Summer League White Sox, DNP - Did Not Play