Three 2013 Draft picks debut on Sox new Top 20
Chicago ranked 27th in terms of elite prospects; Hawkins lone player in Top 100
Call it rebuilding or reshaping or even refocusing.
Whatever the terminology, there's no question the White Sox will be relying more on youth to get this team back to its contending ways after a tough 2013 season. And judging by MLB.com's midseason Top 20 prospects ranking, updating the original preseason rankings, the 2013 First-Year Player Draft for the White Sox should have an impact.
Tim Anderson, the team's top Draft pick at No. 17 overall, checks in at No. 3 among the White Sox prospects. The middle infielder sits behind outfielder Courtney Hawkins, who was the preseason No. 1, and right-handed hurler Erik Johnson, who moved from No. 3 to No. 2.
Tyler Danish, a pitcher from Durant High School in Plant City, Fla., who did not allow an earned run over 94 innings pitched last year and became the White Sox second-round selection, was ranked seventh overall. Danish's delivery and style has been compared to Jake Peavy, and while some project him as a reliever, the White Sox believe Danish can start.
"I don't know if a high school pitcher has ever pitched (94) innings and not given up a run," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann. "It was so dominant and so electric. He profiles for our ballpark."
As a whole, Chicago's Minor League system does not get much praise, if any at all. But through the Draft, an increase in Latin American spending and trades, that ranking might rise. The White Sox will need the assistance.
The White Sox are one of just seven teams that did not have a player graduate from its preseason Top 20 list by surpassing the rookie eligibility limits. Josh Phegley looks like he's well on his way, though.
Phegley started the 2013 season as the 16th-ranked White Sox prospect. But his offensive production at Triple-A Charlotte was too much to ignore.
After hitting .316 with 15 homers and 41 RBIs for the Knights, Phegley was not only promoted to the White Sox on July 5 but basically assumed the team's starting role behind the plate from a struggling Tyler Flowers. Phegley delivered a game-winning grand slam off of Detroit's Anibal Sanchez, just five starts into his tenure, and hit three homers in his first five games.
Charlie Leesman, who started the year at No. 14 on the list, dropped completely off, but he still could be a factor in the White Sox future. Leesman, who elected to stay with Chicago after being designated for assignment, has made 11 starts for Charlotte, but he might end up as part of the South Siders' bullpen.
Right-handed reliever Jhan Marinez fell off the charts from No. 13. The same happened for second baseman Joey DiMichele (No. 18) and left-handed reliever Santos Rodriguez (No. 19). DiMichele, who is hitting .235 for Class A Winston-Salem, was the team's third-round pick in the 2012 Draft, selected one round ahead of Brandon Brennan. The right-handed starter suffered the biggest drop off the charts from No. 12, but his fall could be attributed to an injury, with Brennan to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Micah Johnson, checking in at No. 16 on the midseason rankings, stands as one of the more interesting 2013 Minor League developments in all of baseball. The infielder, selected in the ninth round of the '12 Draft, hit .342 with 61 stolen bases for Class A Kannapolis, before he was promoted to Class A Winston-Salem, where he hit .337 with seven stolen bases in 18 games.
Right-handed reliever Daniel Webb moved on to the charts at No. 18, while the '13 Draft added Anderson and Danish. Outfielder Brandon Jacobs came over from Boston for Matt Thornton in a deal executed just two days before the All-Star break, and he immediately jumped to No. 7 on the White Sox list. Jacobs probably has as much raw talent as anyone in the system.
"He's an athletic kid who projects to be a power bat and everyday corner outfielder," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. "He's a toolsy guy with upside, but [he] still has development ahead of him."
top white sox prospects
Chicago has been thin on middle infield prospects, but Marcus Semien is trying to change that. The shortstop for Birmingham is hitting .272 with 12 homers, 39 RBIs and 80 runs scored, jumping an organization-best eight spots from No. 17 on the preseason rankings to No. 9.
Johnson, who was mentioned previously, moved into the rankings at No. 16, right-handed starter Chris Beck also jumped five spots, going from preseason No. 11 to No. 6. He's not a strikeout pitcher, but Beck has posted a 3.01 ERA over 18 starts for Winston-Salem.
The big drops for the White Sox were plentiful. Right-handed pitcher Nestor Molina, thought to have been able to help the big league squad in '12 after being acquired in the previous offseason from the Blue Jays, continues to battle injuries and ineffectiveness and fell from No. 10 to No. 19. Fellow right-hander Andre Rienzo, who still might crack the big leagues this season, slipped from No. 9 to No. 17, while Chicago's outfield of the future also took a hit.
Keenyn Walker, who has 33 stolen bases but is hitting .197 for Birmingham, fell from No. 7 to No. 14. After a great Spring Training in which he looked ready to break out, Jared Mitchell struggled at the outset for Charlotte, and he has been hit by injuries that moved him from No. 5 to No. 11. The ultra-talented Mitchell was the team's top pick in the 2009 Draft, and the White Sox thought he could have possibly helped Robin Ventura's squad in '13.
Top 100 representation
Hawkins was the only representative from the White Sox in the preseason Top 100 at No. 68 and holds on to that honor, only now at No. 69. The 19-year-old has flashed immense power potential with 18 homers in 243 at-bats for Winston-Salem, but he also has shown the development still ahead of him with a .193 average, a .258 on-base percentage and 116 strikeouts.
For the past five or six years, the White Sox have been rated near the bottom of team prospects rankings, and that hasn't changed. Using the "prospect points" system that assigns 100 points to the No. 1 overall prospect, 99 to No. 2 and so on, the White Sox started the season with 33 points and dropped to 32, leaving them ranked 27th overall. Only the Angels (15), Brewers (5) and Braves (0) fall below the White Sox, while the Tigers (105), Indians (200), Royals (236) and Twins (397) hold a considerable edge within the division.
Under Ken Williams, the plan was to use the Minor Leagues to supplement the big league roster or trade for an important cog to supplement the roster. Players such as Gordon Beckham, Phegley, Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Nate Jones are homegrown players making strong contributions to the team's current version, but Hahn also is looking to strengthen the White Sox core at the lower levels.