Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (30) | 2011 (27) | 2010 (23) | 2009 (16) | 2008 (30)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [85-77] AL Central
AAA:  [83-61] International League — Charlotte
AA:  [63-76] Southern League — Birmingham
A+:  [87-51] Carolina League — Winston-Salem
A:  [61-78] South Atlantic League — Kannapolis

Arizona Fall League PlayersSalt River Rafters
Andre Rienzo (RHP); Santos Rodriguez (LHP); Salvador Sanchez (RHP); Taylor Thompson (RHP); Carlos Sanchez (2B); Andy Wilkins (1B); Trayce Thompson (OF)

Graduated Prospects of Note
Addison Reed (RHP); Jose Quintana (RHP); Hector Santiago (LHP)

The Run Down
The MLB Divisional Series are still raging and, for most, it’s a little early to start digging into 2013 previews of any sort.  Alas, we have a schedule to maintain here.  As usual, we’ll ease you into these team-by-team minor league previews, starting from the bottom, and working our way toward the more compelling organizations as we approach Opening Day 2013.  So, here we are in the cellar:  the Chicago White Sox.  And believe me, it doesn’t get any lower than this.  Perhaps, though, it’s unfair to bash the Sox for their lousy farm system.  Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and President Kenny Williams have consistently approached their organization from a MLB-first perspective — they don’t spend much in drafts and their player development systems are lagging.  But the White Sox aren’t ignorant to these flaws; they just don’t care.  They’re a principled franchise, and they’re reasonably successful in what they do and how they do it.  Frankly, I don’t endorse this baseball operations model — it kinda goes without saying that I’m a prospecty, build-from-within sort of dude.  But while I watch other organizations tiptoe the line between development-first and MLB-first organizational philosophies, I must admit that it’s refreshing to see Sox standing their ground, flippin’ the bird to all the Keith Laws out there.

Top Ten Prospects
1.  Courtney Hawkins, OF:  The Sox chose Hawkins out of high school with the 13th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft this past June, and were extremely aggressive with the 18-year-old, pushing him from rookie-ball to High-A within his first 250 PA as a pro.  Unfazed by the promotions, Hawkins slashed .284/.324/.480 on the year, then added some big-time performances in post-season play.  He’s big, standing 6-3, 220, and he’s praised for both his athleticism and his power stroke.  With a strong arm, Hawkins profiles wonderfully in RF, and given the aggressive rate with which Chicago promotes its brightest prospects, it wouldn’t surprise me if they continued on the express path with Hawkins.  ETA:  Late 2014

2.  Trayce Thompson, OF:  After blasting 24 homers in 2011, Thompson continued swinging big in 2012, collecting 25 more long balls between High-A and Double-A.  With an aggressive approach and a huge swing, he’s an all-or-nothing kinda guy, which leads to cold stretches, but also to insanely hot stretches too.  Thompson caught fire at Double-A Birmingham during the second half, and earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A Charlotte in doing so.  A .229 ISO on the year certainly draws excitement in the fantasy game.  ETA:  Late 2013

3.  Carlos Sanchez, 2B:  Sanchez rode the same path as Thompson in 2012, starting at High-A and finishing at Triple-A.  With plus defensive tools, he’s a good bet to reach the majors based on that merit alone, but after a great year at the plate, I’m starting to think that his hit tool will play in the bigs too.  The switch-hitting 20-year-old hit .323/.378/.403 between three levels in 2012.  He stole 26 bags too.  ETA:  2014

4.  Erik Johnson, RHP:  At 6-3, 240, Johnson looks like a durable innings-eating type starter, but he has the potential to be more than that.  The 21-year-old posted a 2.45 ERA and a K/9 at 8.5 between Low and High-A in 2012.  What’s most exciting, though, is that the big righty really got his command working during the second half of the year, which could put him on the fast-track in 2013.  ETA:  Late 2013

5.  Keenyn Walker, OF:  The 2011 supplemental first-rounder has the best all around tools in the system, outside of Hawkins.  Plus-plus speed allows him outstanding range in center, and makes him a threat to steal anytime he’s on base.  Problem is, Walker’s hit tool hasn’t progressed as hoped.  The 22-year-old will reach Double-A in 2013, but his ability to handle advanced pitchers will ultimately determine how quickly he moves forward in the high-minors.  ETA:  Late 2014

6.  Nestor Molina, RHP:  Molina, who showed brilliant command of a plus-plus fastball in 2011, regressed considerably in 2012, posting 1.52 WHIP during time spent between Double and Triple-A.  His outstanding fastball offerings make it hard for me to quit on him just yet, but another substandard year in regard to command will drop him off most radars.  On the flip side, he could be up this year if he can straighten things out.  ETA:  Late 2013

7.  Jacob Petricka, RHP:  At 6-5, 210, Patricka brings impressive stature to the mound, and with it, he brings a mid-high-90s fastball.  Inconsistency and fringy secondary stuff have prevented the 24-year-old from his reaching his potential.  Like Molina, Petricka faces a truly important year in 2013.  ETA:  2014

8.  Simon Castro, RHP:  Like the other starting pitchers on this list, Castro is a big boy:  6-5, 230.  He throws hard and figures to gobble up innings as a with a durable frame and arm.  Control and sequencing are his downfalls, and while his ceiling may not be quite so high as Molina’s or Petricka’s, Castro’s floor isn’t as low.  ETA:  Late 2013

9.  Jared Mitchell, OF:  After a missing all of 2010 to a brutal ankle injury, Mitchell hardly looked like his old self at High-A in 2011.  But the former first-rounder appeared quite a bit more comfortable in 2012, and that was certainly a nice thing to see.  Mitchell’s speed seems to have returned after collecting 21 steals and 13 triples between Double and Triple-A.  He’ll need to improve his hit tool in 2013 at Triple-A in order to surface in the bigs before 2014, but the 23-year-old is a tremendous athlete with great makeup, so certainly don’t rule that out.  ETA:  2014

10.  Charlie Leesman, LHP:  It’s tough to ignore the 2.47 ERA Leesman posted in 2012 over a full season at Triple-A, but with a K/9 under 7 and a WHIP above 1.30, it seems that his 3.71 FIP better indicates the pitcher he truly is.  Still, Leesman is features some nice stuff, and I think the Sox will find value in him as a relief pitcher in 2013.  He might even earn a start or two for the South Siders if there’s an opportunity.  ETA:  2013

  1. Dunn-Zo says:

    It seems to me Kenny likes to go after former first round draft picks and try to fix them. I am sure other teams do this as well but it just seems more apparent in the recent years this is been a strategy the White Sox like to implement.

    Phil Humber
    Gavin Floyd
    Matt Thornton
    Jeff Marquez
    Lastings Milledge
    Alejandro De Aza (rule 5 draft, but signed in 2001 as a 19 year old)

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:

      @Dunn-Zo, Oh definitely. The Sox love those type of refurbishment projects. They see it as a cheap way to acquire that first-round caliber talent without actually spending the first-round cash on the bonuses. In some cases it works great, but clearly not always. Say what you will about the Sox crappy farm system, but it’s not as if Kenny is working without a plan.

  2. Luis says:

    Sorry if this isnt the place to write it, but figured you guys are experts at young players. Im in a 20 team Dynasty league and you get to keep 20 players. I was just offered T. Cahill for Chris Davis. I have Moustakas and Matt Davidson coming up soon. My team needs pitching, especially young pitching. Do you guys like this trade? Would this be considered selling high on Davis?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:

      @Luis, I like Davis more than Cahill for the long term. I’d hold Davis & try to find pitching elsewhere.

  3. jdbus says:

    When it comes to the draft, is it the fact that they don’t want to spend money or the fact that they don’t see much value in developing young guys? Because they have a few guys (Sale, Reed) that they seemed to hit on, but not much else. I just find it weird that they pretty much ignore the draft besides for the top rounds. It doesn’t seem like a winning formula

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:

      @jdbus, It’s mostly to do with their overall baseball ops budget. The Sox are comfortable working with an imbalanced budget that favors big-league personnel over player development. As you point out, they have drafted & paid some high-profile prospects with their top picks in recent years… they’re not gonna shy away from spending on quick-to-the-bigs guys like Sale & Reed. But while other clubs are spending big time dough in rounds 2-10, the Sox are a bit more frugal. I’m with ya, though — sure seems like a recipe for inconsistency at the big league level.

  4. jdbus says:

    Agreed, I don’t think the best way to run your organization is to focus on big-paydays for more high profile guys. I would much rather put my money into 6-7 developing minor league prospects than paying for one overpaid veteran (Youkilis, Rios). I don’t know how much of their contracts they are actually paying but i think is a substantial amount. I guess it works for them though, so you can’t really fault them.

  5. Seth says:

    Where would Keon Barnum be? I’d have him #2 behind Hawkins in this super weak system. Trayce Thompson is facing long odds of being a MLB regular with his severe contact problems.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:

      @Seth, Had he stayed on the field & produced, I’d rank him right behind Walker… maybe one slot better if the Sox could’ve pushed him past the Appy League. Love the tools, but tough guy to gauge because of inexperience, injury. He’s certainly a breakout candidate for 2013… wouldn’t be surprised if he leaped over everyone on this list by year’s end. For fantasy purposes, though, too far off & too risky.

      Re: Thompson — not yet convinced he won’t cut it as a regular RF… the whiffs will always be a problem, but his approach has improved every year & his power will play big at US Cellular. Potential mini-mini donkey.

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