(Note from Grey: Please welcome Scott to the Razzball family. He’s going to be taking over as our prospects writer. He charted prospects in the Midwest League in 2008, has a sound understanding of player development and said my mustache was robust. Flattery will get you everywhere!)
Chicago White Sox 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2011 (27) | 2010 (23) | 2009 (16) | 2008 (30) | 2007 (25) | 2006 (14) | 2005 (12) | 2004 (20)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [79-83] AL Central
AAA: [69-74] International League – Charlotte
AA: [71-69] Southern League – Birmingham
A+: [69-71] Carolina League – Winston-Salem
A: [76-62] South Atlantic League – Kannapolis
R: [24-44] Appalachian League – Bristol
R: [42-34] Pioneer League – Great Falls
The Run Down
In terms realistic fantasy value for 2012, the White Sox farm system has very little. The system that Baseball America ranked 27th prior to the 2011 season graduated most of its big league-ready talent (Chris Sale, Brent Morel, Dyan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers), leaving it severely depleted and perhaps the worst in baseball. Starting pitching depth is a major organizational concern, and I suspect Kenny Williams will look to bolster that area during the offseason. An abundance of promising relief arms in the Minor Leagues and an already deep Major League bullpen should allow for some trading leverage, but not much. And while the Sox surely have a few exciting athletes in the offensive pipeline (see Thompson & Mitchell), no one appears ready to make an impact with the bat. Beyond Addison Reed and Dylan Axelrod, I don’t really believe that any of these highlighted prospects will have much fantasy value in 2012. Maybe Kenny Williams Jr. will finally make his papa proud? …Nope. Wow. Definitely not.
Arizona Fall League Players – Mesa Solar Sox
Pitchers: Terry Doyle (RHP); Nevin Griffith (RHP); Brandon Kloess (RHP); Jake Petricka (RHP)
Hitters: Michael Blanke (C); Tyler Saladino (IF); Brandon Short (OF)
Players of Interest
Trayce Thompson | OF:
Thompson is an intriguing young hitter with tremendous bat speed. His 2010 was cut short due to a thumb injury, making 2011 his first full season of pro ball. He slashed .241/.329/.457 at Low A Kannapolis with 62 XBH in 597 PA, including 24 homers. Thompson is a free-swinging righty with an upright stance that reminds me of Drew Stubbs. His strikeouts (172) are also reminiscent of Stubbs. If he can tighten up his stroke and improve his pitch recognition, I can certainly see 30 HR potential, especially as his frame fills out.
Tyler Saladino | SS:
Saladino earned an AFL spot after posting .270/.363/.501 at Winston-Salem. He’s primarily touted for his defense, which will allow him to progress quickly through the minor leagues, as the Sox love sure-handed middle infielders. But he’s caught my eye this season because of his largely unexpected production at the plate: 51 XBH in 464 PA, with 16 homers. Saladino is a little small (5’11”, 180), but at 22 years old he has ample time to fill out. With Alexi Ramirez locking down shortstop ‘til 2014, it seems Saladino’s best shot at the big club is at second base, where Gordon Beckham has struggled to find consistency.
Jared Mitchell | OF:
After missing the entire 2010 season with an ankle injury, Mitchell spent 2011 at High A Winston-Salem, where he slashed .222/.304/.377. Not impressive, I know. However, Mitchell is an exciting athlete with raw skills and developing power. He has a loopy left-handed swing which he’ll need to level out in order to cut down on the strikeouts and popups. Mitchell projects as a top of the order left fielder with great speed and decent pop. Depending on how the White Sox replace Juan Pierre this offseason (and I’m assuming they will, right?), he’ll be an interesting guy to keep an eye on in 2012.
Addison Reed | RHP – RP:
Reed played at five levels in 2011, finishing the season with the parent club. He throws a nice fastball (94-97), which sets up a low 80’s slider that misses bats regularly. He’s stuck out batters at every level, including the big leagues (12 K’s in 7.1 IP), and he’ll have an outside shot at saves next year – probably fourth in line behind Santos, Sale and Thornton (third in line if Sale moves to rotation).
Dylan Axelrod | RHP – SP:
Axelrod earned three starts down the stretch for the White Sox and already has proved some fantasy value. His command is advanced, which allows him to get away with less than overwhelming stuff. He did finish 2011 with 9.16 K/9 at the big league level, but expect that to diminish next year. If he can exit camp in the rotation, expect Axelrod to keep the White Sox in ballgames with low WHIP and few homers. He could be a nice 5th starter in standard formats.
Ian Gac | DH:
At 26, and after six seasons of professional baseball, Gac is a little old to be farting around in A ball. That said, it’s difficult to ignore right-handed hitter’s 2011 line at Winston-Salem: .279/.358/.535, with 65 XBH in 535 PA, including 33 HR. Gac is a big dude (6’3”, 245) with decent plate discipline, but he’ll need to show ability to handle more advanced pitching in AA next season, or White Sox’s patience with him will surely grow thin.
Dan Black | 1B:
Black is of the same mold as Gac: big (6’5”, 240), with sound pitch recognition, and a plenty of pop. He put up a slash line of .286/.354/.496 at Low A in 2011, with 65 XBH in 573 PA (18 HR). At two years younger than Gac, it would seem that Black is a more realistic big league candidate. And as Paul Konerko enters his baseball dotage, it’ll be interesting to see which of these two first base prospects progresses further in 2012.
Eduardo Escobar | SS:
He’ll get to the big leagues based on defense, alone – perhaps the best fielding SS in Minor League Baseball. And while his bat has improved, his offensive production is nothing of note. I’d avoid him in all formats.
Jacob Petricka | RHP – SP:
With a mid 90’s fastball, Petricka is a highly touted young pitcher. He devastated Low A hitters to begin 2011, and while he started strong after promotion to Winston-Salem, his dominance truly faded down the stretch. He’s a fastball/curveball guy, but his curveball needs sharpening and the Sox would like to see him add a third pitch. Otherwise, his big league future is likely as a relief pitcher in a crowded White Sox bullpen. Expect a 2013 arrival for Petricka.
Gregory Infante | RHP – RP:
Infante has been in a relief role since 2009. He mixes three pitches nicely, including a fastball in the upper 90’s, a curveball and a change. Command has been his downfall, but if he can improve in that regard, he’ll have a good shot at pitching with the White Sox pen. Too many good arms ahead of him, though, rendering his fantasy value slim to zero.
Santos Rodriguez | LHP – SP:
He’s a little far from relevance, but Rodriguez features a mid 90’s fastball and a pretty good slider. If he can hone his command in 2012, he could get a shot at the 2013 rotation. He’s definitely a guy worth watching.