Prospect rankings primer
Last year's White Sox list

The Top Ten

  1. RHP Erik Johnson
  2. SS Tim Anderson
  3. RF Courtney Hawkins
  4. RHP Chris Beck
  5. RHP Tyler Danish
  6. SS Marcus Semien
  7. 2B Carlos Sanchez
  8. 2B Micah Johnson
  9. CF Trayce Thompson
  10. RHP Francellis Montas

1. Erik Johnson
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/30/1989
Height/Weight: 6’3” 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2011 draft, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.25 ERA (27.2 IP, 32 H, 18 K, 11 BB) at major league level, 1.57 ERA (57.1 IP, 43 H, 57 K, 19 BB) at Triple-A Charlotte, 2.23 ERA (84.2 IP, 57 H, 74 K, 21 BB) at Double-A Birmingham
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 SL; 6 potential CH; 5 CB

What Happened in 2013: Johnson continued to take developmental steps forward in 2013, pitching his way across three levels, including five starts in the majors.

Strengths: Big, strong body; delivery has refined and works well; fastball works 91-93; can touch higher; thrown with good angle; can work it east/west; slider is a good, hard breaking ball in the mid-upper-80s; above-average offering; curveball good sightline/change of pace offering in the low 70s; changeup is average pitch; good strike thrower.

Weaknesses: Lacks high-end stuff; relies on location and changing speeds; doesn’t project to be a big bat misser; more pitch to contact; changeup is fourth offering; not a big weapon.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: High 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Johnson’s time is now, but as far as top prospects across organizations go, he’s one of the weakest from a fantasy perspective. In a more neutral park, his profile would be more attractive, but I wouldn’t expect him to be better than a SP4 while pitching half his games at U.S. Cellular. Think an ERA around 4.00 and a league-average strikeout rate.

The Year Ahead: After a taste of major-league action, Johnson is ready for a rotation spot in 2014. He has good but not great stuff, and with an improved delivery, the command has taken a good step forward and he can execute a four-pitch mix. The slider might become his out-pitch weapon, but the rest of his stuff is average to solid-average, so he will need to hit his spots and keep hitters off balance to find sustainable success. He should find his footing as a middle-of-the-rotation innings horse, with solid but not special outcomes.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

2. Tim Anderson
Position: SS
DOB: 06/23/1993
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, East Central Community College (Decatur, MS)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .277/.348/.363 at Low-A Kannapolis (68 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 6+ raw; 6 potential hit; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2013: Anderson was pushed straight to the full-season level after signing, and the 20-year-old more than held his own in a 68-game sample

Strengths: Impact athlete; plus-plus run; really good looking swing; shows bat speed and power potential; raw is easy 6; arm is a 5 (maybe a little more).

Weaknesses: Glove needs refinement at short; arm isn’t a weapon on left side; whispers of a future move to the OF (outside org sources); hit/power have a long way to go.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division player/all-star

Realistic Role: High 4; utility/below average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If I’m targeting a single player from this organization in a dynasty format, it’s Anderson. He comes with equal (if not better) upside than Hawkins, mostly due to potential eligibility, and it comes with a far better baseline of performance. Sure, there may be plenty of reasons he doesn’t get there, but this could be an Ian Desmond type of package if the dream lives.

The Year Ahead: Anderson can show all five tools, including plus-plus run, plus raw power, and a swing that looks conducive for consistent hard contact. The glove is still unrefined at short, but several sources think he has a chance to make it work in the infield, while others see a better fit in center field, where the fast-twich athleticism could make him a plus (or better) defender. He was pushed to start his career, but with a lot of development left in his future, the White Sox don’t need to throw Anderson into the deep end quite yet. Regardless of where he starts or where he finishes, the continued development of his bat and his glove are paramount to his statistical output in his first full season.

Major league ETA: 2016

3. Courtney Hawkins
Position: RF
DOB: 11/12/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3” 220 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Mary Carroll HS (Corpus Christi, TX)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org)
2013 Stats: .178/.249/.384 at High-A Winston-Salem (103 games)
The Tools: 7 raw; 6 arm

What Happened in 2013: Hawkins spent the entire season in the Carolina League, a small eight-team league where advance scouting can play a larger role in the exploitation of young hitters.

Strengths: Plus athlete; plus-plus raw power; shows impressive bat speed; good run for size; arm is plus; makeup is praised.

Weaknesses: Big swing-and-miss; shows bat speed but the swing [itself] can get very long; struggles with pitch recognition; chewed up by arm-side stuff; approach is ultra-aggressive; lacks up-the-middle defensive profile.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 4; below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; wide gap between present/future

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Oh, the power. And oh, the strikeouts. A better fit for shallower dynasty leagues, Hawkins possesses great ultimate fantasy upside (think a notch shy of Nelson Cruz), but the risk of getting next to nothing out of him is very real.

The Year Ahead: Hawkins had a disappointing season, and after a certain point, it just started to get worse when he lost all forms of comfort and confidence at the plate. You can argue that his assignment was too aggressive or that the league was quick to adjust and exploit because of the small roster of teams, but he just never settled into a groove and it never clicked. On a positive note, Hawkins did rip 35 extra-base hits (including 19 bombs) as a 19-year-old in a pitcher-friendly league, so the season wasn’t a complete bust. The pitch recognition and long swing are legit issues, but the power potential, makeup, and youth are all on Hawkins’ side. His stock has slipped, but he’s not off the radar and it’s way too early to write him off.

Major league ETA: 2016

4. Chris Beck
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/04/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3” 210 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Georgia Southern University (Statesboro, GA)
Previous Ranking: #8 (Org)
2013 Stats: 2.89 ERA (28 IP, 26 H, 22 K, 3 BB) at Double-A Birmingham, 3.11 ERA (118.2 IP, 117 H, 57 K, 42 BB) at High-A Winston-Salem
The Tools: 6 FB; 5 CB; 5 SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Making his full-season debut in the Carolina League, Beck put his four-pitch mix to work, eventually finding his way to Double-A, where everything started to come into focus for the former second round pick.

Strengths: Big, strong durable frame; shows utility of a four-pitch mix; fastball is solid-avg to plus; works in the low 90s with good sink; can ramp up to higher velo when he needs it; short cut-slider is solid-avg; can show plus; late horizontal action and effective off fastball; can turn over a good changeup with some fade; will throw a curveball into the mix; can throw strikes and work deep into games.

Weaknesses: Lacks knockout stuff; more of pitch to weak contact approach; conditioning has been an issue in the past; delivery can be non-athletic; secondary stuff might be a tad weak at the major-league level.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; mature arsenal, with some mechanical inconsistencies in the delivery and small margin of error.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Beck also has a strong ability to keep the ball on the ground, but it won’t help him be fantasy relevant in anything but deeper leagues. That said, he’s an interesting name to file away in AL-only leagues for the second half of the season (should injuries strike).

The Year Ahead: Beck is likely to return to Double-A, where he will hope to build on a promising 2013 season and possibly pitch his way to the majors. The delivery improved last season, and with the delivery came better command and more consistent secondary arsenal. He has a good fastball that he can manipulate to force poor contact, and his secondary arsenal is average with a chance to play a little higher. He’s not a high-ceiling arm, but one that can log innings and limit damage, and if everything continues on course, he should arrive in Chicago at some point in 2014, most likely settling in to the back of the rotation.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

5. Tyler Danish
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/12/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013 draft, Durant HS (Plant City, FL)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 0.00 ERA (4 IP, 2 H, 6 K, 0 BB) at Low-A Kannapolis, 1.38 ERA (26 IP, 15 H, 22 K, 5 BB) at rookie level Bristol
The Tools: 6 FB; 6+ potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: After not allowing an earned run during his senior season of high school, Danish only allowed four in his professional debut, which spanned two stops and 30 innings.

Strengths: Big competitor; arm works very well from lower slot; creates angle; fastball works 89-91 with big life; slider is a plus potential offering; very difficult on right-handers; sharp tilt; changeup could be third plus offering with more refinement; shows good sink and deception; plus pitchability; rubber arm.

Weaknesses: Unconventional delivery with lower three-quarter slot; some question how that plays in rotation long-term or against lefties; fastball lacks plus velo; relies on movement and location; slider can saucer across the zone; changeup not there yet.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: While it’s not an inevitability at this point, Danish should be valued as a reliever in fantasy leagues. If he does make it through the gantlet as a starter, his ability to keep the ball on the ground will mix very well with U.S. Cellular—which punishes fly-ball pitchers. Regardless, it’s still not a sexy profile.

The Year Ahead: Danish is the type of arm that I normally discount or place in the reliever box ahead of developmental reality, but with Danish I’ve been convinced to support the unconventional candidate. In big spots, Danish pitches his best games, and attacks hitters like his stuff has top of the rotation grades when it doesn’t. He relies on deception and movement, and when he can hit his spots, hitters don’t have a much of a chance. He might look like a future righty specialist, and perhaps that is his realistic role. But discount this kid at your own peril, because he wants the ball all the time and loves to take on the opposition. I absolutely love that type of a competitor. If you ever get a chance, ask an amateur scout about Danish’s cojones. He wears them outside of his uniform when games matter the most.

Major league ETA: Late 2016.

6. Marcus Semien
Position: SS
DOB: 09/17/1990
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2011 draft, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .261/.268/.406 at major league level (21 games), .264/.338/.464 at Triple-A Charlotte (32 games), .290/.420/.483 at Double-A Birmingham
The Tools: 5 glove; 5 arm; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: Semien took a magic ride in 2013, crushing the Southern League before promotions to both Triple-A and then the majors, where the 23-year-old infielder put his name into the mix for a major-league job in 2014.

Strengths: Shows good all-around baseball skills; has bat-to-ball ability; has pop in the bat; can put the ball in the gaps; crushes left-handed pitching; runs well; arm is average but can make throws from left-side; glove plays around average; has fundamental ability on all sides of the ball.

Weaknesses: Lacks a plus tool; can make contact but hit tool likely to play fringe-average or below; can sting a baseball but will not be a big over-the-fence threat; struggles against arm-side pitching; arm isn’t a weapon on the left-side.

Overall Future Potential: Low 5; second-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; utility player/platoon

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If he can take advantage of his home park, Semien could turn his fringy power into a couple of 15-homer seasons—as many before him have. That combined with the potential for 15 steals leaves him on the fantasy map, just not by any means a star attraction.

The Year Ahead: Semien is ready for a full season of major-league exposure, and with versatility and the ability to hit left-handed pitching, he will likely find a way to carve out a role on the 25, either as a starter at third, or maybe at second, or as a quality utility option. He lacks impact tools and is unlikely to exceed expectations and develop into a first-division type, but he will provide a valuable service for a major league team, and given the skill set, has a chance to stick around for a long time.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

7. Carlos Sanchez
Position: 2B
DOB: 06/29/1992
Height/Weight: 5’11” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org)
2013 Stats: .241/.293/.296 at Triple-A Charlotte (112 games)
The Tools: 6+ glove; 6 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: Sanchez had a down year, but he was a 21-year-old playing at the Triple-A level, not exactly a prospect behind the developmental curve.

Strengths: Advanced for his age; good with the bat; shows bat speed and control; from both sides; can use all fields and work against all types of stuff; it’s the hands; glove is easy plus; easy actions; makeup to fail; gamer.

Weaknesses: Well below-average power; arm can make throws but isn’t weapon from left side of the infield; glove-first player with some contact ability but limited high-end impact potential

Overall Future Potential: 5; average major-league player

Realistic Role: High 4; utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; development is near major-league ready

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Even at second base, a player that has minimal power and is not a good bet to steal 20 bases just doesn’t have the type of foundation to be a reasonable fantasy option—even if his hit tool is all it could be.

The Year Ahead: After a very long 2012 campaign that stretched year round without much of a break, Sanchez wasn’t as sharp in 2013, and fatigue (along with an assignment to an advanced level), was certainly a factor in his disappointing season. But the 21-year-old is far from a finished product, and with versatility on defense, instincts for the game, and a contact bat from both sides of the plate, Sanchez is going to eventually bring something to the 25-man roster. The floor is utility, but the bat offers a little more than that, possibly even a major-league regular if everything comes together.

Major league ETA: 2014

8. Micah Johnson
Position: 2B
DOB: 12/18/1990
Height/Weight: 5’11” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: 9th round, 2012 draft, Indiana University-Bloomington (Bloomington, IN)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .238/.227/.238 at Double-A Birmingham (5 games), .275/.309/.360 at High-A Winston-Salem (49 games), .342/.422/.530 at Low-A Kannapolis (77 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: Johnson set the Sally League on fire to start the season, but some of the weaknesses in his game were exposed as he was promoted up the professional ladder.

Strengths: Plus-plus run; high-end athlete; has a good swing; can put the barrel on the ball; shows an approach at the plate; becomes a weapon when he reaches base.

Weaknesses: Real questions about defensive profile at second; glove is below average; arm is strong enough but not a real weapon; bat lacks plus potential; well below-average power; plus-plus athlete but doesn’t show a lot of baseball instincts.

Overall Future Potential: Low 5; second-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; utility infielder/below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to pass extended Double-A test; elbow surgery on resume (amateur).

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If a player steals 80 bases, I will pay attention. That’s a simple fact. Jose Altuve led all second basemen with 35 steals this past season, so if Johnson could hit enough to steal 40 bases, he’s almost certainly going to be a top-10 fantasy option—anything else would be gravy.

The Year Ahead: After his explosive Low-A production, the questions started to roll in about Johnson, and some of the stat-based projection started to paint him as a future impact first-division type in the making. The reality is that Johnson is a very fast individual that can swing a decent bat and can bring his legs into the offensive equation, and that will eventually take him to the major league level and possibly keep him there in a starting capacity. But the defensive profile is more athletic than skilled, and the offensive skill set—while potentially catalytic—lacks a plus punch. He’s going to struggle to hit against better pitching, and without another step forward with the stick, it’s hard to see a major-league regular emerging from that profile.

Major league ETA: 2015

9. Trayce Thompson
Position: CF
DOB: 03/15/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft, Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org)
2013 Stats: .229/.321/.383 at Double-A Birmingham (135 games)
The Tools: 6+ raw; 6 arm; 5+ glove

What Happened in 2013: Thompson played a full season in the Southern League, and after a productive and promising May and June, the 22-year-old outfielder came crashing back down to earth, finishing the season with an anemic .229.

Strengths: Plus athlete, with excellent size and strength; runs well; raw power is easy plus; can launch balls for distance; arm is strong and a weapon in center; glove is at least solid-avg.

Weaknesses: Hit tool is well below average; swing is long and difficult to control; limited time in the zone; plus power unlikely to play; reads/routes in center aren’t always crisp; more tools than usable skills.

Overall Future Potential: 5; average major leaguer

Realistic Role: High 4; bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; still lacks refinement at the plate; failed Double-A test.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The career minor-league home run and stolen base numbers hint at a good amount of fantasy upside with Thompson, but his deficiencies are so large at the plate that he’s better off left as someone else’s dream (and likely waste of a roster spot).

The Year Ahead: Thompson is a frustrating prospect because he has the raw physical qualities of an impact level player but lacks the feel and utility to bring it to the field. The hit tool isn’t very good, and unless he completely restructures the swing or taps into certain neurological reactions at an advanced stage of development, it’s unlikely that he will ever hit. This limits his future role, but doesn’t crush his potential to reach and contribute at the major-league level. He has defensive chops and the big raw power, so it’s easy to see a bench bat if the hit tool can offer a little cooperation. If everything comes together, he’s a major-league regular, but that dream drifts further away from reality with each passing season.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Francellis Montas
Position: RHP
DOB: 03/21/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 4.56 ERA (25.2 IP, 20 H, 31 K, 18 BB) at Low-A Kannapolis, 5.70 ERA (85.1 IP, 94 H, 96 K, 32 BB) at Low-A Greenville
The Tools: 7+ potential FB; 6 potential SL

What Happened in 2013: Acquired in the Jake Peavy trade, Montas might have the most electric arm in the system, and he showed it off in five starts for Kannapolis.

Strengths: Near elite arm strength; during instructs, worked 93-98 with fastball; has touched triple-digits in the past; explosive offering; slider has improved; shows more depth without losing velocity; future plus pitch; despite loose stuff, can find the strike zone; athletic body with remaining projection.

Weaknesses: Delivery can get out of whack; more of thrower than a pitcher (at present); tendency to work up with fastball and lose movement; can run into hard contact; slider is inconsistent; changeup is underdeveloped; likely bullpen profile.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; late-innings reliever (closer)

Realistic Role: 4; up/down type; middle relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; Low-A resume; long developmental road ahead.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: He has potential, but it’s not wise to invest in a potential relief prospect yet to reach Double-A, unless it’s for an extremely deep dynasty format. The odds are just so long.

The Year Ahead: The reports on Montas have always been good, at least as far as the arm strength and fastball potential are concerned. Throwing 100 can have that effect on people. But in order to reach his potential, Montas needs to find refinement in his delivery and his secondary arsenal, most notably take his present slider and turn it into a bat-missing weapon to pair with his bat-missing fastball. I don’t normally get excited about Low-A arms with reliever profiles, but the reports on Montas from fall instructs had a different tone this year, reports that suggested he was starting to offer more depth than just velocity gun masturbation. This is a legit arm, a potential impact arm at the highest level if everything comes together. Keep an eye on this prospect. He could take a big step forward in 2014.

Major league ETA: 2016

Notable Omission: Jose Abreu: It’s hard for me to justify ranking a prospect who will bypass the traditional developmental process and start his professional career on the 25-man roster. Were Abreu eligible (by the aforementioned standard), he would rank no. 1 on this list based on his huge raw power. The value is tied to his bat, and sources are mixed on power utility he will be able to bring into game action against major-league pitching; the power is very strength based and some question the bat speed and ability to keep his hands inside the ball when worked inside. I was able to talk to one Latin American scout who absolutely loved what Abreu brings to the table, both in terms of hit and power, suggesting a .275-plus hitter with 30-plus home run potential. That’s a monster player, regardless of the defensive limitations.

Prospects on the Rise:
1. OF Micker Zapata:
In January, I wrote that Micker Zapata was one of my favorite prospects at the MLB Dominican Showcase, mostly because of his swing and strong arm. He’s a very long off, but the power potential makes him a prospect that could jump into the top 10 in this system with a strong stateside showing in 2014.

2. OF Jacob May: A third-round pick in 2013, May was a strong candidate for inclusion in the top 10, as scouts seem to really like this kid. Perhaps the bloodlines play a role in the affection (May is the grandson of Lee May and son of Lee May Jr.), but his up-the-middle profile with a strong bat drives the positive reports.

3. LHP Chris Freudenberg: An eighth-round pick in 2013, Freudberg is an under-the-radar player who just might surprise people in 2014. Injuries and inconsistencies limited his rise as an amateur, and his debut in the Appalachian League was rather insignificant, but the 6’3’’ lefty showed off his impressive stuff during instructs, including a plus curveball and a low-90s fastball.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. RHP Daniel Webb: Webb was my final cut from the top 10 list, and that has more to do with my preference for ceiling rather than safety. Webb is a very good relief prospect, with a lively mid-90s fastball and slider, and as his major-league sample showed, he can miss bats with both offerings. I think he ends up a seventh-inning type right now, and the breaking ball tightens up he could pitch in higher leverage situations.

2. RHP Chris Bassitt: Tall pitcher with good sinker and multiple breaking ball looks, Bassit could eventually find a home in either the back of the rotation or the bullpen. The command is below average, but he can miss barrels, and when he does find them, hitters struggle to square him up.

3. LHP Scott Snodgress: From the left side, Snodgress shows a plus fastball and tumbling curve, but he struggles to control his body in the delivery, and the command is well below average as a result. The fastball is strong enough for the bullpen if he fails to develop into a quality starter, but even then he will need to find more consistency in his release points and refine his command and secondary stuff before that is a realistic option. But being 6’6’’ and left-handed buys you a lot of development patience, and its too early to write Snodgress off either way.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Chris Sale
  2. Avisail Garcia
  3. Jose Quintana
  4. Erik Johnson
  5. Dayan Viciedo
  6. Tim Anderson
  7. Addison Reed
  8. Courtney Hawkins
  9. Andre Rienzo
  10. Chris Beck

For a team that finished a game shy of losing 100 games in 2013, the White Sox minor-league system doesn’t give a ton of hope for the future. That said, their farm system is in much better shape than it was at this point one year ago and there is some talent at the big-league level that could be part of the next winning club on the South Side.

Left-hander Chris Sale is still the obvious alpha dog in the organization with true front-of-the-rotation stuff and results over the last few years. He is backed up by left-hander Jose Quintana ,who has exceeded all expectations at the bi-league level and fits squarely in the middle of any rotation in the league. With those two horses fronting the rotation, the White Sox can at least be competitive in many series.

The mid-season acquisition of outfielder Avisail Garcia adds much needed athleticism and ceiling to the roster, giving them a potential impact player in either center field or right field over the next few years. There are still open questions about Garcia’s future impact, but he has the tools to hit for average, show at least average power and be a quality defender at any outfield spot. In a deadline deal for an aging pitcher like Jake Peavy, that’s a lot of potential to infuse in the roster.

Another outfielder, Dayan Viciedo offers right-handed power that is hard to find in today’s game, but his rough defense and swing at everything approach gets him in trouble at times; limiting his overall ceiling. That said, his performance at the highest level earns a ranking ahead of raw players like Anderson and Hawkins.

At the back end of the list, right-hander Andre Rienzo was impressive at times during his 10-start MLB debut. Despite a power fastball, Rienzo doesn’t have the swing-and-miss stuff to push him further up this list and project him as more of a mid-rotation starter. Instead, he’s more of a back-end type with late-inning potential if that doesn’t work out.

All told, the White Sox appear to be headed in the right direction as they try to get back on a winning track. With the presence of Sale and Quintana in the rotation, Garcia in the outfield and even Jose Abreu at first base, the White Sox have pieces they can either choose to move to further a complete reconstruction of the roster, or players they can build around as they look for youngsters like Tim Anderson, Courtney Hawkins, Tyler Danish and Trayce Thompson to fulfill their potential and assist at the major-league level. —Mark Anderson

A Parting Thought: I’ve been highly critical of the White Sox in the past—both in terms of prospects and process—but I really like their 2013 draft and international pursuits, and the system looks much better today than it did at this time last season. It’s on the rise and I’m impressed with some of their young talent, particularly Tim Anderson and Tyler Danish.


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Amusing coincidence that Mort's guy Hawkins is at No. 3, considering ruckus he caused for putting a 3 on him.
It's depressing how most of this list realistic role is a role-4 player.
I'm a tough grader.
I'm glad of this. It's weird. The write up left me disappointed in previous failure while leaving me optimistic for the turn around happening.
You may be, but I actually thought you were pretty generous on several of those guys (e.g., Anderson, Hawkins, and Thompson). Not that you gave them any extra credit for their tools, but seemed optimistic about what they could actually get out of them.

How would you assess Leury's makeup?
I'm optimistic about the ceiling, and that's based on the tools. But with Hawkins, I'm realistic about the likely outcome. I put a 4 on him. I put a H4 on Thompson.
Any thoughts on Leury Garcia?
Plenty of thoughts on Garcia; been watching him since he was 16. He's not prospect eligible, but I think he could develop into a super-utility player, one of my favorite concepts in baseball: a player that can play all OF, IF positions. Super-sub. He's a 7 glove; 7 arm; 8 speed player. His approach needs work and he needs to learn to play to his strengths instead of pretending to be a player he isn't, but I think he eventually becomes the mythical super-utility player and changes the way some teams approach filling those bench roles.
This list is the definition of #slack.
I think its better than that. Give the org credit for improving the talent at the minor league level. They have a long way to go, but this is a much better system than in previous years.
How did Mort take it when he heard you put Hawkins at 3?
This list was actually a lot more positive than I was expecting, it looks like the Sox are no longer the minor leagues laughing stock.
"Excuse me Sir are a major league scout? Yes? What do you think of Tyler Danish's BALLS? Pretty good-sized, I hear?"

Thanks, good job on all of these lists JP and family. We are getting an awesome mix of well-researched first-person accounts, and good humor and flavor - lovin' it!
I have a question Jason P. I read what you wrote about Abreu but, I still have questions, because even that report is mixed.

You talk to scouts; Is there anything resembling a consensus about Abreu? I have always had the feeling that most of the questions about Abreu come from NON-SCOUTS, who may or may not have seen Abreu swing the stick, such as with Yasiel Puig last fall. I don't believe many real scouts had that kind of doubt about either, at least in general. I give them more credit, perhaps too much?

My questions is A) Have you talked to scouts who really think he won't hit? and B) Do you or, anyone else there, have an opinion based on what you have SEEN of him, like you done so well with many other players so far?

I personally believe he will be a huge star.
A). Yes. I've spoken with scouts that question the utility of the hit tool and if the power will play to potential. I wouldn't have suggested otherwise if I didn't.

B) My sources watched him in showcases before he signed. I have four different sources from that event, all of which were slightly different. Two of those sources were from teams that went heavy on him with their bid.

Many "real scouts" had doubts about Puig, as I did when I first saw him. His body didnt look the same as it does now and he was clearly rusty. They are both Cuban players, but the comparisons should end there.
Gptcha JP, thank you. I knew you had heard from scouts, first-hand, I was just curious as to how many and, how many were on what side of each coin on him.

I also didn't mean to really compare the two players either, except it is difficult not to in some ways. Jose Abreu has been the greatest hitter in the history of Cuba, he is in his prime, I can see his swing, and I have no opportune to talk to scouts... so, I have my doubts. I just don't see anything to be real uncertain about. He looks like he can really, really swing the bat.

You still haven't really told me what YOU think of him though. I value what your eyes see!
Considering he's only played in front of a handful of people in closed showcases, I haven't been able to see him in person. As I've mentioned, I was able to speak with four sources at those showcases, so I have a good idea who the player is. This doesn't include video viewings of the player.

What the player will be against major league pitching is another story. I'll take extra time to watch him in camp this March, but there isn't going to be scouting consensus on a player who lacks pro experience against major league caliber arms. Mashing is Cuba is great. Mashing against the Verlanders of the world is another story.

He might end up being a monster--the hit/power tools are promising--but people on this side of the aisle can't form strong opinions on that yet. You can't say "you don't see anything to be real uncertain about." You have everything to be uncertain about until you get to see the player against major league competition. Suggesting otherwise is just internet hot air. Save that stuff for other sites.

I hear what you are saying, and it makes sense. I respect the apprehension, to an extent. However, ss a Mariners watcher, I feel they really missed the boat on him and that contract will look like a bargain very soon. I may be a just a person on the internet to you but, Id tell you the same thing if we were face to face. Sorry to sound arrogant but, that is my view. We shall see how it turns out huh?
OK, I get it: Hawkins is only 19 and just played his first full professional season. It's not that big of a deal that he failed the high A level. However, I am still curious about the the precedents. Who else was a highly touted hitting prospect that failed the high A level at that age? If there are many, how many of them went on to have a solid career in the Majors?
though Id look. I went back to 1990 and looked at guys wityh OPS of around Hawkinss' .633, and were 219 in the Carolina League.

in 1992, David bell had a .663 and went on to a solid career as a 3B but, he had defensive value

2001 Johnny Peralta had a .680 but, again, he could also help out on defense.

That's about it. I wanted to be optimistic but almost all of the players who became really good players, Wil Myers, Grady Sizemore, Anthony Rizzo, Aramis Ramirez, Andruw Jones, etc all hap OPSs of .800 +.

On the other hand, 19 year olds were almost always the youngest players in the league so, lets just say 2014 will he a HUGE year for Hawkins. Others may say he has lots and lots of time but, realistically, we will know a lot by the ime next season is over, or before.

Excuse my spelling. I meant to say "Thought Id look ... ... who were 19 in the Caroloina League"
Thank you, casejud.

Neither Jhonny Peralta nor David Bell ever made a Baseball America Top 100 list.
Granted, making the high A level by 19 is endorsement enough. They deserve inclusion - just pointing out a difference as casejud did with his notes about their defensive value.

It is particularly surprising that Bell had so much improvement in him. You would expect a 3rd generation Major Leaguer, whose father was respected enough to even have several managerial gigs, would be quite advanced for his ceiling by 19. Perhaps, he was, but still found ways to continue improving. (Uh, was he caught using steroids?)
casejud: did you total how many 19 years olds played in the Carolina League since 1990? What was your cut off year (no sense in checking on 19 years olds who played there the last couple years as they still haven't fully matured yet)?
It was like 2-3 per year, Id say. Some years 4-5, some years the youngest player was 20. I didn't total them though.

What has always struck me abut looking at stuff like that is that MOST 18 year olds, and a pretty high percentage of 19 year olds, who play in full-season ball tend to go on to have major league careers - usually excellent ones. It is not nearly the longshot, at that point, that some would make it out to be.
Be careful with the "usually excellent ones" comment. That's simply not true of minor leaguers in general. You want to see young players at an advanced level, and yes that is a good indicator of a player that will eventually play in the majors--perhaps even at a a high level. But I've seen far too many young players fail to reach their ceiling to believe in a blanket statement like that.
By the looks of his picture, if Trayce Thompson was born in 1980, he'd really be into Jodeci and Keith Sweat in high school.
so where would matt davidson be on this list? or does he not make the list? what about eaton? just curious your take since this came out before those trades occured, thanks!