If you ask anybody familiar with the Chicago White Sox farm system to pick two players that should be called up come September, 99% of the time, that answer will be Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech.
There’s no doubting that the White Sox top-two prospects deserve a promotion to the majors as much as anyone, however, it might not happen.
While Kopech and Jimenez might not find themselves in Chicago until next May, the White Sox are expected to give other prospects a chance once the rosters expand in September.
Perhaps the two most likely of the White Sox major league-ready prospects to be called up are Spencer Adams and Jordan Stephens.
Jordan Stephens spots a hook to end a 1-2-3 1st inning. He was 90-91 per the Charlotte stadium gun, which ran a little cold last year pic.twitter.com/eGvrfbv8dH— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 21, 2018
With James Shields a likely waiver trade candidate and Dylan Covey struggling to the tune of a 6.06 ERA, a pair of rotation spots could be available in a matter of weeks.
Stephens will likely get the first shot to prove himself in the rotation. Stephens will turn 26 in September, and has been in Triple-A since May.
In 15 starts with Triple-A Charlotte, Stephens is 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA. Stephens has done a nice job of getting strikeouts despite a slightly below-average fastball, striking out 113 in 116 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
The biggest improvement for Stephens in 2018 has been his control. In 116 innings, Stephens has walked just 38 batters, three more than he did in 24 less innings last season. White Sox pitchers lead all of Major League Baseball with 488 walks on the season, making Stephens’ good control a primary reason for his promotion.
Back in February, John ranked Stephens as the White Sox 16th-best prospect. Here’s what John had to say about the 25-year old righty:
It looks like John absolutely nailed Stephens’ ETA, and given his control and consistency at Double-A and Triple-A, Stephens will likely be the first White Sox prospect to get called up in September.
Slow-mo of Spencer Adams warming up. Looks like he's getting the AA start. pic.twitter.com/vy3OL22sbb— Julie, Maybe (@DestroyBaseball) March 14, 2018
After Stephens, you can expect to see Spencer Adams get a shot with the White Sox as well.
Drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft out of a Georgia high school, Adams hasn't quite developed as the White Sox might've expected.
However, Adams hasn't been a complete flop, and has shown major improvement in his age-22 season in 2018.
Like Stephens, Adams started the 2018 season with Double-A Birmingham. Adams spent a little over two months in Double-A, recording a 4.59 ERA in 13 starts. He struggled to get hitters to swing-and-miss, striking out just 53 in 68.2 innings.
It’s been a bit of a different story in Triple-A, as Adams has brought his ERA down to 3.36 in 11 starts with the Knights. While Adams has still struggled in the strikeout department (just 29 in 64.1 innings), he has allowed just 58 hits in Triple-A.
Contrary to Stephens, the only thing keeping Adams down is his control issues, as he’s walked more batters (31) than he’s struck out in Triple-A.
Ultimately, Adams has still shown major improvement after a rough start in Double-A. Opponents are hitting just .245 against him, opposed to .290 in Double-A. Additionally, Adams has stayed consistent, keeping his ERA down in the threes.
When John ranked the White Sox Top-20 prospects back in February, he ranked Adams at number 14. Here’s what John had to say about him:
While I think it’s a bit more likely that we see Adams in September, a 2019 ETA makes sense if the White Sox feel that Adams hasn't shown enough ability to throw strikes at a higher level.
But Adams has shown his ability to persevere, and to get batters out despite lacking overpowering stuff, and therefore I believe that we’ll get a good look at Spencer Adams in about a month or so.