Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Chicago White Sox.
This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.
These are the pre-season grades.
This list was originally published February 2, 2015
1) Carlos Rodon, LHP, Grade A/A-: In the starting rotation less than one year out of college, 4.22 ERA with 114/58 K/BB in 107 innings, 106 hits. Dominant at times but inconsistent due to command issues, which is not unexpected. If he stays healthy he has a good chance to reach his ceiling eventually.
2) Tim Anderson, SS, Grade B/B+: Hitting .313/.351/.426 with 20 doubles, 11 triples, four homers, 46 steals, 23 walks, 107 strikeouts in 476 at-bats. A dynamic player, defense has improved a great deal, bat is progressing though he’ll need more on-base skills to be a true leadoff man.
3) Tyler Danish, RHP, Grade B/B-: Spent entire year in Double-A at age 20, posted 4.58 ERA with 85/56 K/BB in 130 innings, 161 hits, 1.91 GO/AO. Looks durable, obviously a strong ground ball pitcher, young for the level, Double-A hitters were harder to fool but he is still an interesting talent.
4) Francellis Montas, RHP, Grade B-/B: Breakthrough season in Double-A, 2.49 ERA with 102/43 K/BB in 108 innings, just 83 hits, reports on stuff are glowing and his command has improved. Ahead of Danish now.
5) Spencer Adams, RHP, Grade B-/B: 10-5, 3.26 with 81/14 K/BB in 110 innings between Low-A and High-A at age 19. 123 hits so he can be tagged, but excellent command and control help him survive. Mid-rotation projection.
6) Micah Johnson, 2B, Grade B-: Hit .328/.383/.487 with 26 walks, 47 strikeouts, 26 steals in 265 at-bats in Triple-A, then .270/.333/.297 in 74 at-bats with the White Sox, currently on injury rehab in rookie ball. Despite SLG spike in Triple-A, glove polish and power remain the main questions here but speed, average look good.
7) Courtney Hawkins, OF, Grade C+: Hit .243/.300/.410 with nine homers, 20 walks, 100 strikeouts in 300 at-bats in Double-A before going on DL first of August. Essentially league-average production this year, contact remains a serious issue and prevented him from fully tapping his raw power.
8) Carlos Sanchez, INF, Grade C+: Hitting .239/.275/.346 in 289 major league at-bats, 10 walks, 61 strikeouts. No power and subpar on-base skills make him an offensive zero right now, but glove has been very solid and has kept him employed. Young enough at 23 that the bat can improve.
9) Trey Micalczewski, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .259/.335/.396 with 30 doubles, seven homers, 46 walks, 100 strikeouts in 429 at-bats in High-A at age 20. Very young, scouting reports better than the numbers, defense has taken a large step forward. He has work to do but there is regular potential here.
10) Jacob May, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .289/.338/.352 with 23 walks, 66 strikeouts, 32 steals in 332 at-bats in Double-A. Very fast, very good with glove in center field, but lacks power and steals bases at a poor percentage (15 caughts this year). Without more power he’s likely a fourth outfielder.
11) Nolan Sanburn, RHP, Grade C+: 6.75 ERA with 23/18 K/BB in 24 innings in Double-A, 22 hits. Was injured most of the summer, just got off the DL. When healthy still shows excellent stuff but durability and command remain key concerns.
12) Kevan Smith, C, Grade C+: Older prospect at age 27, hitting .264/.340/.375 with five homers, 29 walks, 61 strikeouts in 277 at-bats in Triple-A. Not great against runners but otherwise a decent receiver with strong makeup, has occasional pop in the bat, might be useful reserve.
13) Trayce Thompson, OF, Grade C+: Excellent athlete very gradually putting skills into his game, hitting .260/.304/.441 with 13 homers, 11 steals, 23 walks, 79 strikeouts in 388 at-bats in Triple-A. In the majors now, 9-for-19 (.474) so far with two homers. Also has a good glove. Could be Drew Stubbs with less speed and more power?
14) Jace Fry, LHP, Grade C+: 3.63 ERA with 39/17 K/BB in 52 innings in High-A, 60 hits, went on disabled list in late May for Tommy John surgery, which he already had once before in college.
15) Andre Wheeler, LHP, Grade C+: 3.34 ERA with 57/26 K/BB in 59 innings in High-A, 56 hits. Command is erratic but he gets his share of strikeouts and can hit 94.
16) Chris Beck, RHP, Grade C: 3.15 ERA with 40/14 K/BB in 54 innings in Triple-A. Made one big league start, currently on disabled list with "elbow inflammation" and hasn’t pitched since mid-June.
17) Matt Davidson, 3B, Grade C: Hitting .204/.291/.373 with 20 homers, 55 walks, 177 strikeouts in 475 at-bats in Triple-A. Virtually identical to his 2014 season at the same level. If you want a bright side, his glove has improved tremendously over the last few years, but his always-questionable contact problems have eaten his bat alive in Triple-A.
18) Tyler Saladino, INF, Grade C: Hit .255/.332/.372 with 25 steals, 22 walks, 33 strikeouts in 196 at-bats in Triple-A, .248/.283/.350 with seven walks and 35 strikeouts in 157 at-bats in the majors. That’s pretty close to a straight-up MLE conversion. Fine defender.
19) Micker Adolfo, OF, Grade C: Hitting .253/.323/.313 with six walks, 25 strikeouts in 83 at-bats in Arizona Rookie League. All tools, no skills at this point, age 18.
20) Andy Wilkins, 1B, Grade C: Claimed on waivers by Blue Jays in spring training, then sold to Dodgers in May. Hitting .254/.313/.447 with 16 homers, 41 walks, 82 strikeouts in 394 at-bats in Triple-A. Classic AAAA slugger, but might be able to pull a Clint Robinson or Justin Bour eventually.
The White Sox are 58-64, fourth place in the American League Central, a disappointing season given the investments made in free agents over the winter. Farm products have provided some sporadic assistance, with lefty Carlos Rodon showing top-of-the-rotation potential that he hasn’t quite harnessed. Although right-hander Erik Johnson exceeded rookie limits during his horrendous 2014 season, he has rebounded strongly in Triple-A (2.38, 129/41 in 125 innings) with much better scouting reports to go with the improved numbers. Whatever was wrong with him last year seems to be resolved and he deserves another full trial.
Holdover prospects to watch include infielder Jake Peter (.260/.329/.355 in High-A but 21 steals and solid reports) and Winston-Salem teammate LHP Jordan Guerrero, having a breakout season at age 21 (3.08, 135/31 K/BB in 140, 116 hits). The Sox have a track record of finding and refining under-appreciated lefties (Jose Quintana and Mark Buehrle before him) and Guerrero could be the next one.
Right-hander Thad Lowry can hit 95 but is still working on his secondary pitches in Low-A. RHP Robinson Leyer throws even harder but troublesome secondary pitches have led to a 5.72 ERA in Double-A. High-A OF Adam Engel is fast (56 steals) but lacks power and strikes out a lot, which seems a common thread in this system over the years. 25-year-old OF Jason Coats has shown some power in Triple-A (15 homers) and could be a role bat. RHP Myles Jaye lacks plus stuff but has thrown strikes efficiently in Double-A and could be a back-end starter or bullpen option soon. RHP Michael Ynoa was pitching well in High-A (2.60, 37/14 in 35) until getting hurt for the seven thousandth time.
The 2015 draft added college pitching with Vanderbilt ace Carson Fulmer the most advanced. LHP Zack Erwin and RHP Jordan Stephens are off to good starts in their pro debuts and could both move very rapidly. Sixth round prep first baseman Corey Zangari from Oklahoma has hit well in his rookie ball debut (.315/.350/.489) showing right-handed power but will need time to develop.
Pitching is the strength here, hitting the weakness.
(Hat tip to Futuresox.com for additional information on some players)