A year to forget for the Southside faithful. 2016 started with the Drake LaRoche controversy and ended with the first World Championship for the crosstown Cubs in 108 seasons. A strong April, was followed by an awful May, and a downward spiral for the whole organization. Team MVP Chris Sale voiced his distaste for retro fashion going Edward Scissorhands on an unsuspecting jersey. Leading many to speculate he could be on his way out the door. The rumor mill hasn’t exactly slowed with the ignition of the hot stove, and stocked organizations like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Nationals circle Sale. Any of these rumored suitors could significantly alter the look, shape, and depth of this system immediately. As currently constituted it’s probably bottom 5, with a handful of interesting players in Collins, Burdi, and Fulmer. Followed by a corps of solid floor-bored types. With that said, it’s a system to know in deep dynasty formats. It’s the top Chicago White Sox Prospects, get excited!
**UPDATED 12/6 Post-Moncada Trade**
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level MLB/AA/A+
After winning Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the year many expected Moncada to return to the minors for more seasoning in 2017. My guess was he’d hang around for most of camp before being assigned to AAA Pawtucket. Welp, December 6th 2016 changed all that. Following a trade to the White Sox where he was the major cog in landing Chris Sale for the Red Sox, his 2017 outlook has shifted dramatically. With the White Sox track record of aggressive promotions, and there seemingly large hole at 2nd base it makes sense that Moncada would break camp with the Pale Hose (also my safe word). My guess is he’ll be an everyday player from the jump and could find himself in position to contribute heavily in the steals department without conceding a glaring weakness in any one category. The profile remains the same, Robinson Cano with 30 steal speed, elite on base ability, a athletic linebacker like frame, and oodles of raw talent for days. Will the Red Sox rue the day they sold him? Time will tell. Here’s what I said about him pre-trade. “The undisputed most hyped prospect in the minors. He’s the Cuban with the chiseled frame, oodles of raw tools, and the hyperbolic comps to Robinson Cano with 40 steal speed. There’s only one issue with Moncada, strikeouts. There’s a lot of swing and miss to his game, and at times it seems like he’s never seen a breaking ball. Now that I’ve gotten my major concern out of the way, let me give you renewed hope. What can I say, I’m a giver. There’s no player anywhere in any system with a higher upside than Moncada. Not even Kevin Maitan, not Brendan Rodgers, nobody! The speed makes him capable of 30 steals today, and he has the approach and hit tool to be a perennial 90-100+ run producer. He’s never going to be a 40 home run hitter, but he shows the ability to hit 15-20 today, with some untapped raw power that could get him to 25+ in his peak. In closing, he’s a dynamic offensive force, but he still needs refinement.”
Zack Collins, C | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/RK
Quite possibly the best college bat in the 2016 draft, the White Sox proved many prognosticators wrong keeping Collins behind the plate. Whether his defense improves enough for him to stay there is a matter of great debate. For our purposes it only matters in two ways. It could potentially delay his ETA by a few months to a year, maybe more depending on how committed the Sox are to developing him there. The second is simple, he has the offensive prowess to rank as the best offensive catcher in the game. Making him one of a handful of prospects in the minors with best player at their respective position upside. As for Collins’ tools, he possesses the rare combination of elite bat speed and prodigious strength. His hit grade and power tools run the spectrum of 55-65 on the 80 grade scale, depending on who you read. Should be up to the majors within a year, and could contribute immediately. The White Sox track record of aggressive promotion and disdain for catcher defense could see Collins reach the Southside as early as this August.
Michael Kopech, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A
If Kenny Powers had a son with a beautiful blonde model the child produced would be Michael Kopech. He’s talented, brash, and beautiful, and that’s just his hair. Seriously if Tehol was a prospect he’d be Michael Kopech. Don’t believe me, go check out his twitter account, it’s gold. As for the player, Kopech calls himself #Thorthesequal and he ain’t wrong. He throws a big fastball that consistently hits triple digits, with some scouts claiming it’s hit 105 a few times. He mixes that with a developing above average slider that looks destined to be a plus pitch, and he throws an underrated changeup that rarely gets squared up. He projects as a front of the rotation starter or a star closer. There are makeup and off the field issues following a 50 game suspension for a banned stimulant in 2015, and a broken hand following an incident this past spring. It’s not enough to scare me away from Kopech, but it’s something to consider when assessing his long term value. Then again maybe a little nastiness goes a long way, looking at you Mr. Price. Now that he’s in Chicago Kopech’s value doesn’t change much, though avoiding the snakepit that is the AL East is a bonus. His ETA could also be significantly accelerated knowing the way the White Sox promote aggressively. My guess is, as long as his command doesn’t become an issue, we’ll see Kopech in the White Sox bullpen at some point this year, and in their rotation in 2018.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Zack Burdi, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA/A+/RK
Future bullpen ace in the making. There was some talk that Burdi would make a switch to starting a la Tyler Jay, but the White Sox kept him in the pen and promoted aggressively. Touching AAA by year end, Burdi should see the majors for a good chunk of 2017, breaking camp is not out of the question. Throwing one of the better fastballs in the minors, Burdi hits triple digits on a regular basis, sitting 96-98 consistently with late life. He mixes in an above average change that plays up due to delivery, and a plus breaking pitch in his wipeout slider. His stuff could play in the rotation, but he could be an all-star closer within a few years.
Carson Fulmer, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
So far Fulmer’s short pro career has been a rollercoster ride. On one hand, he strikes out a batter an inning, and has already spent about a month in the majors. On the other he struggles mightily with control and could end up in the bullpen. He’s tough to project due to his lack of size and inconsistent production. The stuff is A+ legit, with a huge fastball that sits mid 90’s with good movement. The pitch grades out anywhere from 65-70 on scout grades. The secondary schnitzel ain’t too shabby either. Pairing a plus plus curve with an above average change, and a cutter. Fulmer seemed to turn a corner after ditching his exaggerated leg kick toward the end of the season. If this adjustment continues to produce results he should be in the Chi-Sox rotation by late May. His long term outlook seems to be mid rotation starter or potentially elite bullpen arm. If the later is true he could form a nice tandem with Zack Burdi. After hitting all the upper levels and the majors in 2016, Fulmer should begin the season at AAA Charlotte.
Spencer Adams, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A
A 2014 2nd round pick, Adams has made the difficult jump from prep pitching prospect to potential major league starter. While still a year away at 20 years old, Adams possesses a high ceiling as well as a high floor. He excels at pounding the zone and generating weak contact. In fact his groundball rate for 2016 was 50% across two levels. The elite control is his calling card; posting a K to Bb of 255 to 53 through his first 334 pro innings. That’s a 1.4 Bb/9 from a player who turned 20 last April. Of course his 6.8 K/9 leaves much to be desired, and there in lies the rub. Adams needs to add some power to his pitches in order to make the jump to potential number two starter. He hit 96 consistently as a prep, but has sat 88-93 as a pro. The White Sox are hopeful he can develop plus velocity once again. That ultimately will decide his overall fantasy value.
Alec Hansen, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
I’ve rustled a few feathers with my takes on Hansen, but I’m just not a believer. He’s gone from top of the draft material to college junior with an extreme risk/reward profile. Don’t get me wrong Hansen has plenty of stuff, but he struggles to command and control his pitches. His fastball touches 99 with run, and his slider and curve are both plus offerings. His inability to repeat his delivery makes him risky, and often leads to his control struggles. If he can find more consistency in his mechanics he could tap into his elevated ceiling. If not he carries significant bullpen risk, though the stuff is there to excel in that role. My colleague and fellow member of the Prospector’s Union, Matt Thompson of Friends With Fantasy Benefits describes him as a right-handed A.J. Puk. The question remains, is that a compliment?
Charlie Tilson, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
After an ankle injury in his first MLB game ended his season, Tilson has to something prove in 2017. Currently penciled in as a candidate to start in centerfield and lead off for the White Sox. Charlie certainly has the skill set of a prototypical leadoff hitter. With an above average hit tool and plus plus speed, Tilson screams SAGNOF. He’s very much on my radar in deeper leagues.
Jordan Stephens, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
Another pitching prospect with size and bullpen concerns. Stephens was the ace of the Rice staff prior to an elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John. He returned the following season and was drafted by the White Sox in the 5th round of the 2015 draft. Stephens mixes an above average low 90’s fastball, with a plus curveball that rates as his best pitch. He rounds out his arsenal with a cutter/slider that can flash plus, and a below average change. Though he lacks ideal size he hasn’t struggled to maintain his velocity deep into games. His ability to generate swings and misses makes him a compelling candidate to be the best long term fantasy option of any pitcher in the system. Through 158 professional innings pitched he’s averaged 10.0 K/9, even striking out 8, 11, and 10 his final three starts of the season. At 24 he’s old for A ball, but it’s important to remember he lost a full year of development due to his previous TJ.
Trey Michalczewski, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
A switch hitter with a nice stroke and untapped raw power, the lad with the unspeakable name is the type of prospect where you consistently hear how young he is for his level. While it’s a rational argument, very often it’s a way to discount a lack of production from players scouts love. To me he looks like a boarderline major leaguer with no real fantasy upside. He’s said to possess above average raw power, and his swing does have some nice loft. So a power breakout isn’t impossible, even if I feel it’s highly unlikely.
Adam Engel, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA/A+
The 2015 Arizona Fall League MVP is a speed demon with a below average hit tool. If he can ever refine his hit tool or boost power to the point that it rates average, he could be a dynamic offensive force with his top of the line 80 grade speed. Until then, he’s a pinch runner in the majors.
Courtney Hawkins, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
A good reminder that draft slot, and early rookie ball returns can be deceiving. Hawkins electrified the White Sox fanbase in the months following his selection as the 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Since then he’s flashed plus power and struggled mightily with whiffs. Looks to me like a washout.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Luis Alexander Basabe, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+
Signed along with his twin brother Luis Alejandro in 2012 out of Venezuela. His brother was dealt to the D-Backs as part of the Brad Zeigler deal during the 2016 season. It’s okay the better brother stuck around. Luis Alexander is a switch-hitting centerfielder with a compelling power/speed profile. He’s still a long ways away, and there are hit tool questions, but the potenital for a fantasy stud is there.
Corey Zangari, 1B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/RK
A powerful bad body lower minors prospect. Zangari is a player that needs to curb his strikeouts if he hopes to progress as an all or nothing power hitter. Despite a rocket arm, the former catcher is too slow and plodding to project anywhere besides first base in the field. His plus power and plus plus raw power make an interesting lottery ticket slugger.
Jameson Fisher, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: RK
With Fisher, the White Sox drafted the top two (Zack Collins finished 2nd) leaders in OBP for all of division 1 in 2016. The 4th round pick has an exciting fantasy upside. A line drive machine (28% LD%) with an athletic swing, and advanced approach at the plate. The stats are a little deceiving with Fisher, as he stole 13 bases in his pro debut, despite possessing below average speed. As Halp and I have said many times on the Prospect Podcast, don’t trust low minors steals numbers they’re meaningless. An older prospect for rookie ball, Fisher turns 23 in December, it will be interesting to see if his production wains upon promotion.
Alex Call, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/RK
Hitting well across two levels in his pro debut, Call projects at best as a potential major league average lead off hitter with some pop. Though a role as a 4th outfielder or fringe major leaguer is just as likely. His speed, contact ability, and strike zone awareness are his greatest attributes. His power is consistently underrated by evaluators who grade his power as a tick below average. Despite an ISO of .300 his junior year at Ball State, and 6 homers in his pro debut. He’s by no means a slugger, but should provide across the board production.
Micker Adolfo, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/RK
Super raw power hitting prospect from the Dominican Republic. His good bat speed, uppercut swing, and strength make him another interesting slugging lottery ticket. He’ll need to fix the holes in his swing if he hopes to advance to the big leagues.
Franklin Reyes, OF/1B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: RK
Younger brother of Franmil Reyes, I know don’t everyone go rush to pick him up at once. Reyes was signed for $1.5m out of DR during 2015 season’s J2 period. He possesses plus power, but approach is swing happy and raw. Has only on your radar for really deep dynasty leagues with expansive farm system setups.
Check Out Our Minor League Preview Index for all articles and podcasts on all 30 teams!