Thanks primarily to the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox were able to accelerate their farm system rebuild. In the process of a fire sale, the White Sox snagged a couple of top prospects, making their top-3 as elite as anyone’s in the game.
But wait, there’s more.
The White Sox have had some nice drafts picks and international signings of late. That gives them some depth, and names to watch.
Micker Adolfo, OF
If you like power, Adolfo is your man. That is evidenced by this video of a home run he hit that hasn’t landed yet.
Adolfo has the plus tools to be a big leaguer. He’d arguably be the best raw power bat in the system if it weren’t for Eloy Jimenez. Adolfo also has a cannon of an arm, likely tops in the system. He struggles mightily in pitch recognition and strikeouts.
It’s easy to look at the stat line and say that the 21-year-old improved greatly in 2017. You wouldn’t be wrong for saying that either. It does come with some caution, however, as it was his second time through the South Atlantic League. And while his slash line and power numbers improved, the strikeout and plate awareness issues remained. How will that translate at the next level against more advanced pitching?
That’s the question, but with the ability to hit bombs like that, it’s worth watching to find out.
Spencer Adams, RHP
With names like Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and even Dylan Cease in the mix, Adams sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Especially with the average stuff he has.
Adams is a curious case. Our own John Sickels reports that his fastball sits at 90, topping out at 95, which was lower than what Baseball America had him marked at on draft day. It has lots of life, and plenty of sink, and is without a doubt his best pitch. He also has what John labels a “good slider, decent change up”.
He showed improvements last season in his attack, and still just 21 years of age, that is promising. As is his willingness to attack the zone. Adams will never lead the league in strikeouts (just 113 in 152 innings), but he doesn’t allow too many free passes either (40 in 2017). It’s certainly worth noting that he has been very hittable over his career (a .277 batting average against) and allowed a staggering 19 home runs last season alone.
There’s plenty to like in Adams. This will be a big season in his development.
The catching question?
The White Sox have an interesting bunch behind the plate, and it’s worth watching who will emerge as the best of the bunch.
Zack Collins was my favorite power bat in the 2016 MLB Draft (remember the bomb he launched in the College World Series after getting drafted). He has an advanced plate awareness, but hasn’t hit for average just yet. He can throw runners out, but has some work to do in his blocking and receiving skills.
Seby Zavala had a monster 2017 at at the plate. He hit 21 home runs and 21 doubles split between Low and High A. Now 24 with question marks on his defense, 2018 will be a big year in figuring out what he has to offer.
Evan Skoug turned a big 2017 at TCU (.272, 20 home runs) into a seventh-round selection in last year’s draft. He struggled in his Low-A debut offensively and defensively, but seems to have the pedigree to hold out hope.
Yermin Mercedes is one I didn’t know much about. Acquired via the Rule 5 minor league draft from the Orioles, John has him as one of his sleepers for 2018. Here’s why:
Age 24, originally signed by Baltimore Orioles out of Dominican Republic in 2010, acquired by White Sox in minor league portion of 2017 Rule 5 draft, meaning they can keep him and don’t have to send him back; seems like a great value pick to me, hit .276/.340/.455 with 16 homers, 35 walks, 67 strikeouts in 380 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, good combination of power and contact; threw out 34% of runners but was often used as a DH due to receiving issues; still, there’s power in the bat and if he’s even marginally passable as a catcher he’ll find a spot somewhere. ETA 2018.
The catching department seems to be relatively deep, but all come with some concerns. This will be a telling season to see who emerges as the best.