The White Sox are now a few years into a rebuild that began before the 2016 season. The organization was aggressive in seeking max returns for cornerstone big leaguers like Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, and Todd Frazier—the end result being a farm system with an unusually high number of top prospects acquired through trade. This is a fairly top-heavy list, though the collective chance for impact between players #1 and #4 pushes Chicago’s system into the top 10 in baseball. There isn’t ton of depth behind that group, however—especially on the pitching side—and it’s likely the White Sox will be restocking the pipeline for a few years once the uppermost prospects on this list graduate from eligibility. An emphasis on college performers in the draft has produced a number of lower-ceiling potential role players, corner mashers, and ‘pen arms past the group of top-ranked prospects. Though the White Sox have shelled out huge J2 bonuses at times for players like (#3) Luis Robert and (#10) Micker Adolfo, the organization’s general reluctance to compete on the international market contributes to the dearth of homegrown, center-diamond athletes currently in the system.
Only the absolute best farm systems in baseball can shake a stick at Chicago’s group of top prospects. (#1) Eloy Jimenez already signed a record-setting extension that gives credence to how much reason there is to believe in his offensive upside. (#3) Luis Robert has star-level raw tools and looks to be making strides at the plate this year. Pitchers (#2) Dylan Cease and (#4) Michael Kopech both have elite stuff and could be legitimate frontline starters if they stay healthy and throw enough strikes. There is an immense amount of potential among this group, though with that comes the pressure of being expected to form the next core of contending White Sox teams.
(#5) Nick Madrigal has more upside than the names that follow because he has the chance for a 60-grade tool (hitting ability), but even last year’s #4 overall pick is probably more attractive for his floor than ceiling. Ranked prospects like (#8) Zack Collins, (#9) Luis Gonzalez, (#11) Blake Rutherford, (#12) Steele Walker, and (#14) Gavin Sheets don’t grade out as massively impactful big leaguers, though they all seem like fairly safe bets to reach the Major Leagues in some capacity.
Despite boasting two potential frontline starters in (#2) Dylan Cease and (#4) Michael Kopech, there’s not much starting pitching in this system. Even those two come with question marks, especially Kopech, who won’t be ready to return to the mound until 2020 as he works back from Tommy John surgery. The third highest-ranked arm on this list—(#7) Dane Dunning—also is out for the year with an elbow injury. We still see some chance for Alec Hansen (On the Horizon) to settle into a Major League role in the ‘pen, though his continual control lapses have officially ended the starting pitcher experiment. Zack Burdi (On the Horizon) has the stuff to pitch leverage innings but has also dealt with his fair share of injury troubles. Past these names, we identified the rest of the pitching prospects in the system as FV 40 types or below.
TOP 15 PREF LIST
|6||Luis Alexander Basabe||OF||50||High||2019|
CREAM OF THE CROP
(#1) Eloy Jimenez, OF
Ceiling: 70 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: All-Star
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 205 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 4m
Jimenez has been a can’t-miss guy since day one, a top-ranked talent on the 2013 international market and currently one of baseball’s best prospect-eligible players. He and (#2) Dylan Cease were the crown jewels of Chicago’s prospect return from the Cubs for Jose Quintana in 2017. Jimenez turned it up another notch last season, slashing a dominant .337/.384/.577 in the upper-minors while striking out in less than 15-percent of his plate appearances. He was ready for a big league call-up at the end of 2018 but didn’t get one, prompting a service time standoff between his agent and the organization that resulted in a precedent-setting extension during Spring Training of 2019 (six years, $43 million guaranteed; two option years that could push the total value to $75 million). While the White Sox certainly committed a hefty sum before Jimenez ever suited up in an official Major League game, there’s ample reason to view the contact as a worthwhile investment. The 22-year-old outfielder has the offensive tools to be a star, a potential 60-grade hit/on-base threat with 30+ HR power. Jimenez’ health (he has long battled a myriad of small-ish injuries) and limited defensive value are drawbacks, but the bat is so special those gripes seem minuscule in comparison. Presuming he stays healthy into his late-20s, Jimenez has the talent to be one of the primer offensive threats in the Major Leagues.
(#2) Dylan Cease, RHP
Ceiling: 60 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: Frontline Starter (#2/#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 190 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AAA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 3m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight | Report
One of the two big-ticket prospects acquired from the Cubs for Jose Quintana in 2017, Cease has moved steadily through the minors and is now stationed at Triple-A. The 23-year-old righty has improved his control year by year, now looking like a starter who can prevent walks at a league-average rate. Considering his monstrous stuff, that control/command combo gives the upside of a frontline starter. Cease’s fastball sits around 95-to-96 mph, frequently able to reach back for 97-99 mph when he needs it. He’ll likely be among the game’s hardest-throwing starters upon debuting in the big leagues. The fastball is backed by two potentially plus secondaries, a sharp downer curve in the upper-70s and a power slider at 84-to-87 mph that’s fairly new to his arsenal. His mid-80s changeup is more of a work in progress, though there’s reason to project up on the pitch given still-improving mechanical consistency. Cease will certainly benefit from a bit more Triple-A seasoning but doesn’t look far from being ready. He’s likely to settle in to a big league rotation spot at some point this year and could bloom into a #2/#3 type.
(#3) Luis Robert, OF
Ceiling: 60 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2020 Role Description: Potential All-Star
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 185 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 7m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Video #3 | Spotlight | Report
Robert signed for a monstrous bonus right before international signing rules changed, inking a $26 million dollar deal with the White Sox out of Cuba in May of 2017. Injuries got in the way of him building game reps his first two years as a pro, though there’s little doubt about Robert’s potential after he absolutely laid waste to Carolina League pitching to begin 2019 (.453/.512/.920 with eight home runs in just 19 games). Chicago moved the 21-year-old outfielder up to Double-A just before this piece went to press. A double-plus athlete, Robert’s raw tools are among the loudest in the minor leagues. It starts with power, as his BP sessions draw easy 60s from scouts with raw that could finish as high as a 70-grade tool. He never found a groove at the plate last year because of time missed with injury, and while he’ll likely always come with some strikeouts, it’s looking more likely Robert finishes at least an average hit/on-base producer. That offensive profile is extremely valuable considering his position on the field, as the 21-year-old projects to remain in CF despite his strength and muscled-up body type. Robert covers lots of ground in the outfield, keeping runners honest with a 60-grade arm with booming strength and carry. A true potential five-tool player, how impactful Robert will be in the big leagues ultimately comes down to his contact frequency and approach. The ceiling is a legitimate all-star talent, and given all the ways he impacts the game, he’s likely to be valuable contributor even if the hit tool leads to some peaks and valleys at the plate.
(#4) Michael Kopech, RHP
Ceiling: 60 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2018 Role Description: Frontline Starter (#2/#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 205 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 11m
The 33rd overall pick in 2014 by the Red Sox from a Texas high school, Kopech grew into even more stuff and velocity after turning pro. His fastball jumped to the upper-90s and routinely touched 100 mph with Salem in the Carolina League in 2016. That winter, the White Sox parted ways with homegrown staff ace Chris Sale for a package of top prospects headlined by Kopech and Yoan Moncada.Kopech only got better from that point forward, establishing himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the game by 2018 as he toned down longstanding issues with his control and command. He made his Major League debut late last season and was excellent for his first three starts before tearing his UCL in September. Presuming his stuff comes back and the reduction in walk rate is for real, Kopech still has all the ingredients of a frontline starter. His fastball works in the upper-90s, paired with a power slider with wipeout action that’s a no-doubt plus. He worked to develop a deeper arsenal last year, improving a still-fringy changeup and adding a curveball for another look. Given the timing of his late-season surgery last year, we’ll likely have to wait until 2020 to evaluate how Kopech bounces back. His big time upside still placed him on our recent Top 125 Prospects despite missing all of this season with injury.
ON THE HORIZON
(#5) Nick Madrigal, 2B
Madrigal had an extremely decorated amateur career, winning Pac-12 player of the year honors as a sophomore and a College World Series title as a junior. He went #4 overall to the White Sox in 2018, the second highest drafted 2B in history. He breezed through his first summer in pro ball and finished the year helping High-A Winston-Salem in the Carolina League playoffs. Madrigal is among the safest bets to hit for average across all of Minor League baseball, a future plus hit tool that likely could hold his own in the big leagues right now if he had to. He sprays line drives with a quick, level stroke that features nearly unprecedented barrel-control, striking out just five times in his pro debut with elite contact rates. We don’t think he is going to hit for as much power down the road as others do, though it’s worth noting that undersized hitters who make quality contact have started to do more damage in the “juiced ball” and launch angle era. Defensively, his hands, instincts, and actions all play at shortstop, though a fringy arm has pushed him to 2B full-time as a pro. Madrigal has outstanding makeup and intangibles, a winning player that finds a way to succeed everywhere he goes. We’re somewhat conservatively penciling him in as a future solid-regular, though that safety still placed Madrigal #100 on our recent review of baseball’s Top 125 Prospects. If he develops into a 70-grade hitter or can find more power, he’ll easily exceed that projection. Madrigal should move through the system quickly and surface in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
(#6) Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
Yoan Moncada and (#4) Michael Kopech were the prospects returned from Boston for Chris Sale that got the most attention at the time, though Basabe has blossomed into a solid potential big leaguer in his own right. The 22-year-old outfielder has made steady progress in all facets of his game, and he’s close to Major League ready despite being slowed by a hamate injury at the end of Spring Training. Basabe’s game is based around speed, a plus athlete who plays an above-average defensive CF. He’s a threat to steal bases but will need to improve his jumps and instincts, as he’s thrown out on the bases a fair amount for someone with plus running ability. A switch-hitter, Basabe is two different batters depending on what side of the plate he’s hitting from. He’s a power hitter prone to striking out hitting left-handed, showing far more bat-to-ball skill—with less power and impact at contact—from the right side of the plate. It’s an interesting offensive profile considering Basabe’s center-diamond value and ability to impact numerous facets of the game. Switch-hitters often take more time to develop two different swings, and especially coming off a hamate injury, his timeline might now be pushed back a bit. Basabe has already used two Minor League options, however, so barring further injury, it’s still relatively likely he sees Chicago late in 2019.
(#7) Dane Dunning, RHP
Dunning was part of a loaded Florida pitching staff in 2016, teaming up with A.J. Puk (Athletics), Alex Faedo (Tigers), Jackson Kowar (Royals), Brady Singer (Royals), Logan Shore (Tigers), and others to form a memorable rotation. He pitched as a mid-week starter and occasional ‘pen weapon for the Gators, still showing enough for the Nationals to select him with the 29th overall pick in 2016. One of the pitching prospects Chicago acquired from Washington in the Adam Eaton trade, Dunning’s polish and pitchability led to a successful start to his pro career before elbow issues slowed him down in June of 2018. He ultimately required Tommy John surgery and won’t return until 2020. Dunning is a bit untraditional for a starter, though his deception and location give the best-case upside of a #4 starter. He hides the ball well from an abbreviated windup, getting plus run action on a low-90s fastball from a three-quarters slot. The heater sits 92-to-93 mph as a starter, topping out at 94-95 mph. Dunning showed advanced command before getting hurt last year, the movement and location playing his fastball to above-average (ground ball rates around 50-percent) even without dominant velocity. He lands a deep mix of secondary pitches in the zone, able to sequence a curve, slider, and change effectively. There’s reason to hesitate just a bit given the control-based profile coming back from surgery, though Dunning still has among the highest floors of any arm in the system and still figures to fill a big league role in some capacity. He could reach the big leagues very quickly in a ‘pen role upon returning from injury next year if the White Sox choose to fast-track him.
(#8) Zack Collins, C/1B
Collins hasn’t developed into the full offensive package that some envisioned when the White Sox took him with the 10th overall pick in 2016, nor has he quieted the doubts about his ability to stay behind the plate defensively. While his hit tool hasn’t come on as hoped (massive strikeout rates and contact issues, especially versus LHP), we’re sliding Collins a hair ahead of some others just behind him on this list because what he does do offensively is done very well: draw walks, get on base, and hit the ball out of the park. Collins is off to a hot start in Triple-A this season, and his bat will almost certainly be Major League ready at some point in 2019. If the White Sox opt to keep him down until 2020, it’s likely so Collins can get more reps defensively at catcher. He is what he is—a true-outcomes hitter who will strike out a ton and put up some ugly batting averages against same-side arms—but we feel fairly confident this is a serviceable power/platoon option that can handle at least part-time action at catcher early in his career.
(#9) Luis Gonzalez, OF
A third-rounder from the college ranks in 2017, Gonzalez has moved quickly through the system and started this season in Double-A. A high-floor player with a well-rounded set of average tools, he’s a safe bet to contribute in some capacity but might fit best as a fourth outfielder. He’ll really need to hit to crack the lineup, as his game power projects a tick short on a corner with range in CF that’s only fair. The best-case ceiling is a low-end regular who can move between outfield spots.
(#10) Micker Adolfo, 1B/DH
Adolfo is perhaps the most polarizing player in the system. His feast-or-famine toolset is lead by monstrous raw power, and while that aspect of his game has always shown tantalizing flashes, an increasingly long list of injuries has changed his profile significantly. A 60-grade arm from RF before turning pro, Adolfo tore the UCL in his throwing elbow and wound up getting Tommy John surgery after initially opting to rest it. He has not played in the field in over a year, only DH’ing last season with High-A Winston Salem and doing the same this year with Double-A Birmingham. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that Adolfo was recently placed on the DL with complications in the same elbow after struggling mightily during his first month of upper-minors play. 70-grade raw power and the chance to be a 20-25 HR bat make him one of the more prominent prospects on this list, but the lack of hit tool and increasing likelihood he’s a 1B/DH type are behind Adolfo’s slide into the FV 45 tier from where we had him last year. He’s a huge question mark that’s in the “wait and see” category for now.
Alec Hansen, RHP
Hansen’s prospect stock has fluctuated greatly over the last four years. Seen as a potential first-rounder entering his draft year at Oklahoma, a disastrous spring dropped him to the White Sox in 2016’s second round. He dominated from the rotation early in his professional career, looking like a potential #2/#3 starter who had figured out his frame and delivery such that a power pitch mix was finally playing like it was capable. Then 2018 happened, another unadulterated disaster similar to Hansen’s junior year of college: he completely got the yips, walking 59 hitters in just 51 innings pitched and headed back to A-Ball by season’s end to try and work things out. Chicago moved him to the bullpen this year, where Hansen’s wildly inconsistent control profiles best long-term. He was working in the 91-to-95 mph range at the end of 2018 just to throw a strike; in relief, he’s able to operate back in the upper-90s with less pressure on command or sequencing. Both Hansen’s curve and slider flash effective upside, though like his control and general pitchability, the secondary stuff is inconsistent. Hansen’s size and velocity will keep him on the prospect radar even if it continues to be a lengthy development trajectory. It isn’t uncommon for power pitchers of this size to take longer to figure it out at the pro level. There’s definitely a scenario in which he never quite turns the corner and falls short of sustained big league value, though Hansen’s high-upside ingredients still give the ceiling of an XXL, hard-throwing setup man in a Connor Sadzeck (Mariners) mold.
Zack Burdi, RHP
Before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, Burdi’s two-pitch mix was arguably the best in the minors. He threw a fastball that regularly worked into triple-digits with a power slider that was unhittable at its best. Burdi made a few late-season appearances in 2018 before heading to Fall League, though his stuff still hasn’t fully bounced back to peak form. What he showed in the past still keeps Burdi in the FV 45, high-leverage relief tier, though the diminished velocity and injury history add significant risk.
Jose Ruiz, RHP
Ruiz was originally a Padres catching prospect, though limited offensive success and a cannon arm prompted San Diego to move him to the mound in 2016. The Padres added him to their 40-Man Roster despite him being more of a project, though Ruiz was the casualty when the organization needed to clear a spot for free agent acquisition Freddy Galvis in 2018. Chicago claimed Ruiz, who has gotten cups of coffee with the White Sox in both 2018 and 2019. His blistering fastball touches the high-90s and sits at 96 mph, backed by a power upper-80s slider. He projects as cost-controlled middle reliever that can contribute at the Major League level right now.
Zach Thompson, RHP
Thompson’s pro career was stalling as a starter, but he upped his prospect stock by transitioning to relief. He impressed in Fall League after last season but was left off the 40-Man Roster in November, going unselected in the Rule 5 Draft. The 6-foot-7 righty touches 96-to-97 mph at best on his fastball, mixing four-seamers and running sinkers with an upper-80s cutter he leans on heavily. He casts over a 76-to-80 mph curve with occasional sharpness. Currently in Triple-A, the 25-year-old should be ready to help at the big league level fairly soon. His ceiling is a middle reliever, perhaps one that could record more than three outs at a time.
Tyler Johnson, RHP
The White Sox aren’t afraid to take college relievers fairly early in the draft and move them quickly, and that’s exactly the path Johnson has been on. The team’s fifth-rounder in 2017 from the University of South Carolina, Johnson was basically a reliever-only throughout his time with the Gamecocks and has exclusively worked from the ‘pen as a pro. He whizzed through the low-minors and was on his way to Double-A to begin 2019, though a lat strain at the end of Spring Training has sidelined him to date. Johnson’s fastball routinely reaches the upper-90s and sits in the 96-to-97 mph range. Though the sheer velocity of the pitch overwhelmed A-Ball hitters last year, it projects to play beneath that against better competition given limited movement and command. Neither of Johnson’s off-speed pitches—a slider and changeup—look like future bat-missers. His heater can get him to the big leagues, though the lack of another above-average attribute holds the ceiling back to middle relief.
Jimmy Lambert, RHP
Lambert has kept performing and getting outs since being drafted in the fifth round in 2016. He finished last year in Double-A and is off to a strong start back at the level in 2019. Though his 6-foot-2 frame is still on the leaner side, Lambert added nearly 15 pounds of muscle this past off-season and is now scraping 94-95 mph at best on his fastball, albeit with less command at the high-end of his velocity range. His heater settles in around 91 mph as outings progress, with a secondary-heavy approach that relies on pitchability. Lambert leans on his off-speed to play up the fastball, able to land a curve, slider, and changeup for strikes. He might lack a carry tool or the durability for a true back-rotation role, but the sum-of-parts gives long relief/spot-starter upside.
Seby Zavala, C
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 205 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AAA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 25y, 7m
Zavala converted to catching fairly late, so he’s progressed defensively at a batter-than-average pace since turning pro. He’s an average defender with raw power that makes him interesting in a bench role. Zavala is a fairly low-ceiling prospect that could be hitting his plateau at Triple-A, as he struggled at the level to end 2018 and has struggled mightily so far this season. He’ll need to hit to get to power in order to have bench value at a premium position, because no defensive tools stand out as legitimate pluses. Added to the 40-Man Roster before the 2019 season, Zavala should surface in the big leagues fairly soon.
Ian Hamilton, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2018 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 200 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 9m
A classic fast-track college reliever, Hamilton reached the big leagues last year after coming to the White Sox in the 11th round in 2016. A short, strong-bodied righty, he’s an arm-strength guy who needs velocity to bail out 40-grade, relief-only control and command. Hamilton’s fastball touches 98 mph and sits comfortably in the high-90s, backed up by a fringy cut-like slider that straightens out. He’ll occasionally wrinkle a crude changeup and two-seamer, but essentially works with two pitches and leans heavily on his heater. Hamilton’s fastball gives up the upside to fill a middle relief role, but limited pitchability and off-speed likely prevent him from pitching leverage innings.
Ryan Burr, RHP
Burr had a decorated college career as a closer for Arizona State, the type of ‘pen-only prospect that fast-tracks to the high-minors in pro ball. He stalled there a bit, though, as his stuff fluctuated and caused his prospect stock to subsequently dip. The White Sox acquired him from Arizona for international bonus money in 2017, giving him his first Major League action last year. He began this season with the big league club as well before heading to the IL with a shoulder inflammation. Burr’s fastball touches the upper-90s and sits at 94-to-95 mph consistently. It’s fairly straight and he pitches over the plate with it, things that have caused the heater to play beneath its velocity in the Major Leagues to date. He mixes a cutter and slider that are tough to distinguish from one another, neither pitch projecting as a swing-and-miss offering. Burr profiles in middle relief, without a defining characteristic to fit in higher-leverage situations.
Caleb Frare, LHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2018 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 225 lbs. B/T: L/L Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 25y, 8m
(#11) Blake Rutherford, OF
Rutherford was among the more decorated high school players in recent memory, known to scouts in Southern California early in his high school career. He was older than many top prep hitters in the 2016 Draft, something that wasn’t discussed much at the time but could explain some of the tool stagnation he has experienced at the pro level. Essentially, Rutherford was about as polished as you can ask for as a prep but hasn’t developed much more since then. One of the prospects Chicago received from the Yankees in 2017 in exchange for Todd Frazier, Rutherford displayed a sound, well-rounded skill set in High-A last year. No one tool grades as plus—and he’s playing more RF after spending lots of 2018 in CF for Winston-Salem—but a track record of contact and fair power gives the chance to finish a solid role player/fourth outfielder type. If his ability to get on base really comes on and carries the profile, the absolute best-case ceiling is a hit-first everyday player in LF or RF. It’s more likely Rutherford winds up the former, however, and he has struggled across his first (roughly) 100 Double-A plate appearances. Despite this, he only just turned 22-years-old and remains one of the higher-floor bats in the system.
(#12) Steele Walker, OF
Walker slid to the second round, somewhat of a surprise after a decorated college career at Oklahoma. Many expected him to be off the board when Chicago’s second pick came around, so the White Sox were elated to add another college performer alongside (#5) Nick Madrigal atop their draft class. A muscular 5-foot-11, Walker whips the bat through an aggressive uppercut, looking to lift the ball and do damage. He has the strength and swing-leverage for average power, and despite fairly limited barrel control through the zone, his uncanny knack for contact means he could develop into a playable hitter, too. Like most of the White Sox top outfield prospects not named (#6) Luis Alexander Basabe, Walker is a fringy CF defender who will lean on routes and instincts if he does stay at the position. More likely, a well-rounded set of average-ish tools—paired with quality makeup and feel for the game that coaches laud him for—puts Walker’s ceiling somewhere between a role player or solid fourth outfielder.
(#13) Jake Burger, 3B/1B
Ceiling: 45 Risk: High ETA: 2021 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 210 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 11m
Heading into the 2017 Draft, Burger was seen as a fringy 3B defender with a strong enough bat to be in the first-round mix even if he moved off the position. He handled the South Atlantic League soon after turning pro, looking like the polished college bat the White Sox hoped for when they took him with the 11th overall pick. He ruptured his left Achilles leading up to 2018, ending his season. He re-tore the tendon while rehabbing the injury just a few months later. We’re penciling him in as a future 1B given an already-iffy defensive profile paired with a significant lower-half injury. Burger’s bat could be enough to carry that profile, but without looks at him for over a calendar year, he’s tough to place on this list. There’s risk given the pressure to hit and injury history, but his offensive potential still gives reason to be cautiously optimistic upon returning later this summer.
(#14) Gavin Sheets, 1B
Sheets’ physicality and left-handed raw power made him a second-round pick at Wake Forest in 2017, though above-average raw has yet to translate to game action. Instead, he showed more pure feel to hit than one expects from a hulking 6-foot-4 slugger last year in High-A, displaying a polished approach that leads to a healthy number of walks. Sheets has tried to get to more power in Double-A this year, though it has come at the expense of contact—especially against lefties—and limited his ability to use the other field. The size, power potential, and approach are all here to fit as a platoon masher or role player at 1B, and while we still see that as the ceiling, he’ll need to really put up numbers at the plate to stay a prospect as a bat-only player. He’ll take a dive without showing more formidable on-base ability and power in the next year or two.
(#15) Luis Mieses, OF
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2023 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 180 lbs. B/T: L/L Highest Level: R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 10m
Signed to a $428K bonus in the 2016 international period, Mieses has spent the last two summers in the DSL and AZL, respectively. He’s soon to turn 19 and started 2019 in Extended Spring Training, ticketed for short-season ball this summer. The White Sox system is not shot on impressive physical specimens, and Mieses fits on that list. A muscular and athletic 6-foot-3, he’s far more built than his 180-pound listing indicates. There’s a chance for more power to develop given his size and fluid left-handed swing, though it hasn’t shown up in games much to date. His bat-to-ball skill is raw and it’s an over-aggressive approach, rarely taking walks and prone to swinging himself out of at-bats. Mieses has the mobility to currently line up in CF, though with his frame, it’s likely he winds up on a corner. The ingredients are here for a prototype RF toolset, though his proximity and the projection still required on the bat-to-ball ability place Mieses in the lottery ticket category for now.
Laz Rivera, INF
A lowly 28th round pick in 2017 who has proven to be a high-energy grinder since signing, Rivera raced through the system and started this year in Double-A. No tool is loud enough to carry the profile, but the sum-of-parts gives him the upside of a versatile bench infielder. His hands and range are playable at the 6, though a fringy arm makes it likely Rivera profiles better at 2B for longer stretches. An aggressive swinger, the 24-year-old has surprising juice in his bat considering a lean-bodied 6-foot-1 frame. He’ll need to get more selective and improve his pitch recognition to do much at the plate against upper-level pitching. If he can’t, Rivera’s floor is that of a upper-level depth piece or 4A type that could get cups of coffee.
Konnor Pilkington, LHP
Pilkington was talked about as a potential first-rounder as an underclassman at Mississippi State, though his stuff continues to go backwards since that time. The White Sox took him in the third round last year—a perceived slide given the helium surrounding him entering his draft cycle—and though Pilkington has gotten off to a strong start against less-advanced Low-A competition in 2019, he now looks entirely like a finesse guy. It’s odd, seeing as he reportedly touched 96 mph at best earlier in his amateur career. Both his secondary pitches are effective because he lands them for strikes, though neither will miss bats. His fastball flirts with the mid-80s at times and sits 87-to-89 mph, which limits the margin for error despite fairly refined control and command. Pilkington’s best-case upside is a durable #5/swingman type, but until the stuff comes back or he can prove this stuff mix plays against AA/AAA hitters, we see his upside more conservatively as a FV 40 long reliever.
Bryce Bush, 3B
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 200 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 3m
Bush signed for an over-slot $290K bonus in the 33rd round last year from a Michigan high school. There’s always some risk with cold-weather, corner-only prep bats, but Bush’s physicality and raw power were pro-ready. He held his own in the Pioneer League a few weeks removed from high school competition, and the White Sox felt he was ready for an immediate assignment to full-season ball to begin his first full year at the pro level. A thick, muscular 6-foot, Bush has big raw power that could finish plus at maturity. He takes an aggressive cut with plenty of batspeed, showing burgeoning feel for the zone despite pitch recognition that’s in the early stages. He’s a project at the hot corner, and while he isn’t a sure bet to move down the defensive spectrum, it’s more likely he winds up a LF/1B type. Bush falls into the lottery ticket category and is likely on a longer development trajectory, though the power potential makes him a prospect and merits a writeup somewhere on this list.