I like this White Sox club *dodges tomato*. Geez, that one wasn’t even ripe! Harsh. Seriously though. Hear me out. You’ve got the anchor at first with Abreu. That’s a solid middle infield of Moncada and Anderson. And you’ve got three decent arms to build around in Rodon, Lopez, and Giolito. If Kopech weren’t recovering from Tommy John, he’d have been a good bet to join them (spoiler: he”ll still rank somewhere on this list). But Mike, that’s only like six players. That’s true my over-the-internet-friend-holding-an-unripened-kumquat. But this is where our prospect list comes into play. The reinforcements are on the move, and right now this system has arguably the best outfield prospect in baseball scheduled to arrive in early 2019. Am I predicting they win the Central? Nah, I still think that’ll go to the Tribe. But I’ll bet Chicago leapfrogs the Twins and Tigers and puts together a winning record.
1. Eloy Jimenez, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019
It only took about five or six team previews to reach our first truly elite prospect. Consider Jimenez to be in a tier of his own. Double-plus power paired with a plus hit tool is a recipe for quick success as a fantasy prospect. Service time nonsense aside, Jimenez should be up early and a 20-homer season (or more) wouldn’t shock me one bit. The only question is how high he’ll go in redrafts.
2. Dylan Cease, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
Kopech was supposed to slide into the rotation this year, but since he’s out with TJS, perhaps Cease can fill that role. The righty pairs a double-plus heater with a wipeout curve, which could play as a starter (SP2/3 ceiling) or a high-leverage reliever. He logged about 50 innings in Double-A in 2018, so he’ll need some time in the upper minors, but there should be an opportunity for him at some point this season with the big league club.
3. Luis Robert, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
Robert’s AFL performance has buoyed his ranking a bit, and it feels awkward to rank somebody in this tier after they put up a goose egg in homers. But Robert pairs plus speed with above-average power and a solid hit tool to form one of those complete players that ends up being really useful in fantasy. He gets comped as an outfield version of Moncada, trading some speed for power over time.
4. Michael Kopech, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2020
Kopech’s ranking is taking a hit this year simply because he won’t throw a pitch in 2019 after Tommy John surgery. His best pitch is his 80-grade fastball that sits in the upper nineties. When he eventually comes back around, it’s going to be fantasy candy with massive strikeout potential.
5. Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
Five…five Grade A specs! Ha, ha, ha! Madrigal gets the nod in this tier for his pure hitting ability. That, along with his plus speed, make him a prototypical leadoff hitter. Worst case scenario (aka floor) he becomes a super-utility infielder that’s fantasy relevant for his bat.
6. Blake Rutherford, OF| Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
When I left Razzball in 2016 to pursue a career as a dog food taster, Rutherford was a hot commodity. He came to the Sox in the Frazier/Robertson deal, and since then hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire the way he did then. 2018 was solid though. He put together a 7/15/.293 season in High-A and continued success in the upper majors should keep his stock heading back in the right direction. I’d actually consider him more of a B+.
7. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2020
When you get to the middle of the pack, you start to see a lot of these speedy, defense-oriented outfield prospects with suspect power and hit tools. Basabe has some pop though. He split time between High-A and Double-A in 2018 and paired 15 homers with 16 steals. There’s probably a 20/20 player in there, but the approach/average looks a tad suspicious.
8. Zack Collins, C | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Catching prospects, etc. etc. Mainly etc. (h/t Ben Finegold). Collins has some above-average pop and if it weren’t for the substandard hit tool we’d be more excited. He hit .234 with 15 bombs and stole five bags in Double-A this past season. That 15-homer mark is about where I’d mark his power ceiling in the majors. I’m also not sold he’ll stay a catcher, so he’ll be left with his offense to carry him.
9. Micker Adolfo, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2020
Adolfo’s best tool is his arm, but there should be enough raw power to get to 18/20 homers if everything clicks. He hit .282 with eleven bombs at High-A as a 22-year-old in 2018. He’s coming off TJS and entering the upper minors in 2019, so his stock should see a decent swing in one direction or another. I’ll bet on it rising.
10. Luis Gonzalez, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2020
I like Gonzalez’s profile as a lefty with average tools and a good approach. He hit .307 with 14 homers and ten steals across two levels in 2018. Those numbers are a bit deceiving since he’s a tad old for High-A, but this looks like a solid real-life fourth outfielder who could contribute offensively in deep formats.