Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (29) | 2012 (30) | 2011 (27) | 2010 (23) | 2009 (16)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [63-99] AL Central
AAA: [65-78] International League — Charlotte
AA:  [77-63] Southern League — Birmingham
A+:  [71-69] Carolina League — Winston-Salem
A:  [61-76] South Atlantic League — Kannapolis

Arizona Fall League PlayersGlendale Desert Dogs
Chris Bassitt (RHP); Charlie Leesman (LHP); Stephen McCray (RHP); Kevin Vance (RHP); Micah Johnson (2B); Marcus Semien (SS); Brandon Jacobs (OF); Jared Mitchell (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Avisail Garcia (OF); Josh Phegley (C); Jordan Danks (OF); Andre Rienzo (RHP)

The Run Down
Back in July I went on a brief rant, imploring White Sox brass to change their ways and improve their flaccid trajectory.  It went like this:  “There are several questionable farm systems in baseball, but the Chicago White Sox are certainly one that stands out.  For years now, the Sox have maintained a firm MLB-first approach to player personnel.  They’re a principled franchise that would rather allocate its baseball operations budget toward free agent signings and MLB extensions than toward draft spending.  And when they do stumble upon a real-deal prospect, they usually like to trade him for a veteran dude, someone to help that playoff push.  It’s a model that occasionally works — they won a World Series by it in 2005 — but it’s not one that’s built to sustain success.  And now, in 2013, the White Sox are awful.  They’re in total rebuild mode — everything is for sale.  This is finally their opportunity to change direction, to try to build a system that cultivates and utilizes impact talent.  They’ve already dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for Brandon Jacobs, an upside outfielder with a skill set that might be very useful in the fantasy game.  Don’t stop there, Chicago.  Tear it all down.”

Well, they couldn’t quite tear it all down — there were no Adam Dunn buyers in the market — but they were able to make some key moves and splash some youth into an organization that desperately needed it.  Most notably, Avisail Garcia was an outstanding acquisition.  He’s ineligible for this list, but he’d be an easy #1 were he still hanging onto his prospect status.  Don’t get me wrong here, this system is still lacking, but it’s no longer the weakest in the game, and its overall direction has improved greatly.

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1.  Tim Anderson, SS:  The White Sox took Anderson with the 17th overall pick this past June.  The 20-year-old was drafted out of JUCO, and possess superb athleticism and very raw baseball tools.  What stands out most with Anderson is his speed — he stole 24 bases in 68 games at Low-A Kannapolis in 2013.  He also showed some on-base skills, posting a .348 OBP during his time in the South Atlantic League.  Don’t expect much in terms of power, but Anderson looks like a top-of-the-order shortstop who could be among the best in the the league in the stolen base department.  There’s plenty of fantasy value in that skill set.  ETA:  2016

2.  Courtney Hawkins, OF:  Courtney Hawkins struck out 160 times in 2013 at High-A Winston Salem.  That’s a shizzload of whiffs — a 37.6% K-rate, if you’d prefer contextualize this atrociousness in ratio form.  Clearly, there are major questions to be answered regarding Hawkins’s approach and pitch recognition, but it’s important to keep in mind that the White Sox have been absurdly aggressive with their 2012 1st round pick.  Hawkins was essentially sent from high school ball to High-A ball, so while the numbers are laughable, it’s tough to be too critical of the line that the 19-year-old produced in his first full season of pro baseball.  With that said, I’m going to try to focus on whatever positives can be gleaned from his 2013 — 19 home runs, and an ISO north of .200 are encouraging figures.  Hawkins will return to Winston Salem in 2014 where he’ll need to shore up his contact woes in order to improve the outlook of his overall hit tool.  If he can make those improvements, he has the talent to break into the top 100 picture (perhaps even top 50).  Hawkins is a prospect oozing with high-impact fantasy potential, and it’s way too early to quit him.  ETA:  2016

3.  Erik Johnson, RHP:  Johnson put up a great season in 2013, posting a 1.96 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and a K/9 at 8.3 in 24 starts between Double-A and Triple-A.  I’d call it a breakout year, but truth is, the 23-year-old has done nothing but impress since being selected out of college in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft.  With an innings-eating frame and plus-plus command of an above average fastball, Johnson has all the makings of a mid-rotation workhorse.  He needs to improve his breaking ball if he is to surpass that projection.  He’ll compete next spring for a spot in the White Sox Opening Day rotation.  ETA:  2014

4.  Chris Beck, RHP:  For the time being, I’ll call Erik Johnson the top arm in this Chicago White Sox farm system, but that has more to do with risk factor than impact potential.  If we’re strictly talking in terms of fantasy ceiling, Chris Beck is the best arm in this system.  At 6-3, 210, Beck has the body to hold up against a big league workload, and he brings a front-end repertoire that features a plus fastball, and two above average off-speed pitches (SL, CH).  The 23-year-old tossed 146 IP between High-A and Double-A in 2013, posting a 3.07 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.  To this point, Beck hasn’t been one to rack up the whiffs, but his slider should develop into a wipe-out offering as he reaches maturity.  ETA:  2015

5.  Trayce Thompson, OF:  Thompson worked hard in 2013 to eliminate some of the swing-and-miss problems that had been plaguing his reputation.  He was successful in that regard, trimming his whiff rate by more than 6%, but in the process, his power seemed to diminish, too.  The 22-year-old collected 15 homers at Double-A in 2013, 10 shy of the mark he posted between High-A and Double-A in 2012.  Thompson has legit raw power — we’ve seen it in the past — and he brings 20+ SB potential.  He’ll need to show he still has that pop in 2014 if he’s going to sniff the bigs anytime soon.  With 20/20 upside, though, there’s obviously plenty of fantasy intrigue here.  ETA:  Late 2014

6.  Micah Johnson, 2B:  With a 2013 that featured 84 stolen bases, 7 home runs, and a slash line at .312/.373/.451, it’s fair to label this past season as a breakout year for Johnson, who spent time at Low-A, High-A, and Double-A.  Given his wheels, and his ability with the bat, you might consider Johnson a high-impact middle infielder, but scouts are extremely skeptical about his ability to stick at 2B.  Most see him as an outfielder at the highest level, which would certainly lessen his fantasy value.  ETA:  2015

7.  Marcus Semien, 2B:  Semien has pushed through the White Sox system rather quickly, thanks to an advanced approach at the plate and solid defensive ability up the middle.  The 23-year-old hit .284/.401/.479 with 19 homers in 625 PA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013, earning himself a late-season look with the big club during which he knocked 2 homers in 21 games.  Semien might not be of the high-impact variety, but he’s a safe prospect, and he has enough stick to draw some fantasy attention at MI if he’s getting regular work.  ETA:  2014

8.  Tyler Danish, RHP:  The Sox drafted Danish out of high school 55th overall this past June and used him almost strictly as a reliever during his first taste of pro baseball.  The 19-year-old, however, shows the ability to command three pitches (FB, SL, CH), all of which project as above average offerings.  That’s a starter’s repertoire, and I suspect the White Sox will explore that path for Danish in 2014.  ETA:  2017

9.  Brandon Jacobs, OF:  Jacobs arrived in Chicago via Boston as compensation for Matt Thornton in a trade this past July.  The 22-year-old has always been an impressive athlete with exciting fantasy potential, but he’s been slow to translate his tools into measurable production.  Jacobs posted a disappointing .618 OPS in 43 games at Double-A.  He’ll return to Birmingham in 2014 where the White Sox hope to see him tap into some of his noted power potential.  ETA:  2015

10.  Keon Barnum, 1B:  Drafted 48th overall in 2012, Barnum is touted for extreme raw power.  Standing 6-5, 225, the 20-year-old is a large human, and being so, he’s limited in terms of athleticism and defense.  The Sox are taking their time with his development — he’s played in only 63 games above instructional-level — and it’s likely to be a slow climb through the organization for Barnum, but no one denies the enormous power potential.  ETA:  2017