Chicago White Sox’ 2021 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Vincent ranks the Top 50 prospects for the Chicago White Sox.

As we prepare for the season ahead, the Pitcher List staff will be creating profiles for every fantasy-relevant player for 2021. Players will be broken up by team and role through starting pitchers, bullpen, lineup, and prospects. You can access every article as it comes out in our Player Profiles 2021 hub here.

The Chicago White Sox are one of most exciting young teams in the sport, making the playoffs in 2020 for the first time in more than a decade. After aggressively embracing a rebuild the past few seasons, the White Sox appear to be in win-now made. Several of their young stars are locked up for years to come and a few recent free-agent signings have signaled a going-for-it mentality.

In recent seasons, the White Sox have boasted some of the game’s top prospects. Many of those players have graduated or are on the verge of graduating, so the farm doesn’t have as much to offer as it has in years past. Still, there is an interesting blend of injury-plagued former top-100 guys and young, high-upside players that the farm shouldn’t be overlooked.

Here’s a look at their top 50 prospects, including when they are expected to debut and how you should value them in deep dynasty formats.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball-focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as highly.

 

1. 1B Andrew Vaughn

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

First base prospects are usually not the best investments as they have to really hit in order to have value at their position. The good news with Andrew Vaughn is that the dude can mash.

Vaughn only has 55 minor league games under his belt, but he’s displayed excellent plate discipline so far, sporting a 12.7% walk rate and 13.5% strikeout rate in 29 games at High-A. The hit and power tools are both plus and once Vaughn reaches the majors, he’s going to be hitting in one of the most potent offenses in the game.

The White Sox elected not to bring back Edwin Encarnacion for 2021, perhaps leaving the door open for Vaughn to get Major League at-bats as soon as this summer.

ETA: 2021

 

2. RHP Michael Kopech

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

Remember him? Michael Kopech was once considered to be the top pitching prospect in baseball, but after Tommy John surgery in 2018 and opting out of the 2020 season, Kopech is a bit of a forgotten man.

As a result, we haven’t seen him since 2018 so there are some question marks here. When healthy, Kopech has a fastball that tops 100 MPH to go with a plus slider and a plus curveball. Like many pitchers, the success will depend on his keeping his walks in check. In his 2018 season at AAA, Kopech posted an 11.1% walk rate. Based on 2020 MLB stats, that would be the worst in the league among qualified pitchers. But even with that in mind, Kopech recorded a 20.3% K-BB% that season, so the strikeout potential is obvious.

It’s easy to see the ace upside here, but it comes with obvious risk. Kopech should be given a chance at a spot in a White Sox rotation that has its own share of question marks.

ETA: 2021

 

3. 2B Nick Madrigal

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

Madrigal is a bit of a unicorn in today’s game. He doesn’t strike out (6.4% rate in 29 career MLB games). walk (3.7% rate) or hit the long ball (zero home runs). What he does do is hit for average and steal bases, spotting a .340 batting average and two steals in his brief taste of MLB action. Consistent .300 hitters are tough to find these days, but so are hitters that may only leave the ballpark once or twice a year.

Unless there is a drastic change in his size and approach, this is what you can expect from the second baseman. He’s going to hit for a high average and steal bags, but the power is going to be non-existent. He’s likely to have an everyday role batting ninth for the White Sox for the foreseeable future, but an injury to one of the team’s regulars could push him to the top of one of the best offenses in baseball.

ETA: 2021

 

4. LHP Garrett Crochet

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: MLB

Crochet was drafted in 2020 and tossed six innings in his MLB debut before being shutdown with a forearm injury. His debut was electric, though, striking out eight batters and allowing just three hits (all singles) while walking none.

Crochet’s four-seamer averaged 100.1 MPH and his slider recorded a 50% Whiff rate. That’s a potentially lethal pairing. It’s possible the White Sox try him out as a starter long-term but the likely outcome appears to be an elite reliever.

ETA: 2021

 

5. RHP Jared Kelley

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: N/A

The White Sox seemingly have a type and Kelley fits the mold. Kelley throws gas and touches 98 with his fastball. Reports are that his changeup is also plus and his curveball is a work in progress.

Kelley is yet to make his pro-ball debut so there isn’t much to go off here, but he was the 2019-20 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. He will likely need to develop a third pitch to have a future as a starter, but if he can’t, the two pitches he does have could be good enough to make him a late-inning reliever.

ETA: 2024

 

6. OF Benyamin Bailey

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Bailey is a 6’4, 215-pound outfielder with a potential speed/power combo. There’s a good chance that the speed ticks down as he gets older but that could mean more power is on the way. His 2019 Dominican Summer League line shows an advanced approach with Bailey walking 21.4% of the time. It’ll be important to see if Bailey’s approach sticks as he faces tougher competition. If the approach is real, he could be one of the better bats in this system.

ETA: 2025

 

7. OF Micker Adolfo

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

If not for injuries, it’s likely Adolfo would have gotten a big-league look already. The power-hitting outfield was having a breakout season in High-A in 2018, slugging 11 homers and posting a wRC+ of 137 before requiring Tommy John surgery midway through the year. He played in a handful of games at the tail-end of 2019 but it’s been a long time since we’ve truly seen Adolfo.

Prior to the injury, there was some risk in Adolfo’s profile. Even during that breakout campaign, he was striking out 27.4% of the time and his lack of speed made a defensive liability. Still, Adolfo’s walk rates were heading in the right direction and there is still a chance his bat would have carried him to a big-league role by now. Adolfo is a nice bounce-back candidate.

ETA: 2021

 

8. RHP Jonathan Stiever

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

Stiever’s shown a great ability to limit walks in the minors, recording a 4.7% and a 4.4% walk rate in High-A and A-ball, respectively, during the 2019 season. He made two spot starts for the White Sox in 2020 and didn’t see much success, finishing with an ERA nearly in the double digits.

Still, we shouldn’t overlook anyone over two starts, nonetheless someone who jumped from High-A to the majors. Stiever’s primary pitch is his four-seamer, which showed above-average vertical and horizontal movement in 2020. Given his record of limiting batters to reach base via the walk, Stiever has some breakout potential in 2020 if he can generate some whiffs from his secondary offerings.

ETA: 2021

  

9. RHP Zack Burdi

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

Once upon a time, Burdi was the best relief prospect in baseball. That label is gone but there is still intriguing upside here. Pre-surgery, Burdi used to throw 100 mph gas. His fastball averaged 97.8 mph in his 7.1 innings with the White Sox in 2020. The problem is that at that speed, he was extremely hittable, with batters posting a .505 wOBA. If he can continue to regain velocity on his fastball and continue to generate swings and misses with his slider (48.1% Whiff rate in 2020), then there’s some hope that he can still be a back-end reliever. But those are still if’s at this point.

ETA: 2021

 

10. C Yermin Mercedes

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: MLB

Mercedes can really hit. In 53 games at AAA in 2019, the right-hander posted a 150 wRC+ with a triple slash of .310/.386/.647. His plate discipline was solid, too, with a 10.9% walk rate and a 19.1% strikeout rate.

Mercedes will be 28 years old by the time the season is underway and is a liability behind the plate. If given an opportunity, he could be an impact bat. Unfortunately for Mercedes, the White Sox have one of the best catchers in baseball in Yasmani Grandal and have a lineup full of right-handed power hitters. The departure of James McCann, though, could open up the door for some at-bats.

ETA: 2021

 

11. SS Jose Rodriguez

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Rodriguez is a bit under-the-radar but has an intriguing upside. The White Sox don’t have a ton of prospects with a combination of hit, power and speed but there is a chance that Rodriguez could be an all-categories contributor. He’s only 5’11 so the power may never fully materialize, but his hit tool may be good enough to have the power play up.

There could discipline concerns here, though, as Rodriguez’s career walk rate is around 4%.

ETA: 2024

 

12. C/1B Zack Collins

 

Highest Level: MLB

Patience and power are the calling cards with Collins. Like Mercedes, Collins enjoyed a great 2019 season in AAA, recording a 140 wRC+. In that 88-game campaign, Collins walked 16.9% of the time, which is actually the lowest mark he’s posted at any level. The batting average will never be high, but he gets on base and puts the ball over the fence.

The White Sox don’t have many left-handed bats on their roster so Collins could see some at-bats this season, although he has struggled in his 36 games at the MLB level (63 wRC+). He should compete with Yermin Mercedes for the backup backstop role.

ETA: 2021

 

13. 3B Bryan Ramos

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

Ramos enjoyed a successful debut in the Arizona League in 2019. As a 17-year-old, Ramos posted a 110 wRC+ with four home runs and three steals in 51 games.

Ramos has plus power and could see his stock rise in 2021 if he puts up similar numbers against tougher competition. He projects as a solid defensive third baseman.

ETA: 2025

 

 14. RHP Matthew Thompson

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Thompson has only thrown two innings of professional ball, so he is still mostly projection. He stands at 6’3 and features a fastball, slider, and changeup mix. The 2019 second-round pick is projected to be a starter and is one to keep an eye on as he gets more professional innings under his belt.

ETA: 2024

 

15. SS Yolbert Sanchez

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: R

The White Sox inked Sanchez to a $2.5 million deal in 2019. His above-average speed and defensive abilities alone could get him to the majors, but scouts agreed that his bat skills are a little behind.

His approach in the DSL was noteworthy. Sanchez walked more than he struck out and posted a .297/.386/.441 triple slash. There’s good value in Sanchez if he can get on base at a high clip to utilize his speed, but DSL stats, especially from a then 22-year old, should be taken with a grain of salt.

ETA: 2023

 

16. OF Luis Gonzalez

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

Gonzalez got a very brief look in 2020, appearing in three games. He’s had some success in the minors and although his 2019 season at AA was his worst on paper, he still put up a .247/.316./.359 to with 17 steals in 126 games.

In an everyday role he could still 20+ bags and hit double-digit homers but it is more likely he ends up as a fourth outfielder type.

ETA: 2021

 

17. OF Blake Rutherford

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Rutherford is a former top-100 prospect but has seen his stock fall over the past several seasons. He spent the full season at AA in 2019, posting a 98 wRC+ with seven home runs and nine steals in 118 games. The lack of power has been the knock on Rutherford since his debut and in today’s game, it’s difficult for a corner outfielder without much power or speed to find regular time.

ETA: 2022

 

18.Yoelqui Céspedes

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: N/A

Cespedes is the latest Cuban signee for the Chicago White Sox, netting a $2.05 million deal on January 15. Cespedes is the younger half brother of Yoenis Cespedes, and the former has above-average power and speed in his game. That alone gives him an intriguing upside. There is a good amount of swing and miss to his game, though, so there is concern that he will not be able to make consistent enough contact to put those tools to work. Cespedes hasn’t played competitively since the summer of 2019, so there will likely be a period of time where he needs to shake off the rust, too.

ETA: 2024

 

19. RHP Andrew Dalquist

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Dalquist has three innings of minor league baseball under his belt so there are still a lot of unknowns here. He features a fastball, curveball, and changeup mix. The White Sox drafted Dalquist in the second round of the 2019 draft and plan to try him out as a starter. Dalquist projects to have above-average command and his performance this year will give a better indication of what to expect from the righty down the line.

ETA: 2024

 

20. 1B Gavin Sheets

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

Sheets has big-time raw power but it hasn’t shown in games as much as you’d expect. Sheets belted 16 home runs in 126 games at AA in 2019 while posting a 122 wRC+. Without the power, the approach (10.2% walk rate, 18.8% strikeout in 2018) may still be good enough to get Sheets to the big leagues but finding a way to dip into the power could help him carve out a more consistent role.

Sheets’ path to the White Sox roster is a bit murky. On the one hand, Chicago doesn’t have many reliable left-handed bats. On the other, the team is full of 1B/DH types.

ETA: 2021

 

21. 3B Jake Burger

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: A

Burger was taken 11th overall in the 2017 draft. Sadly, he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to showcase his talents. A pair of Achilles injuries and a heel injury kept Burger off the field for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

All the missed time means that Burger has a lot of catching up to do. When drafted, Burger was a big-power bat and one of the best hitters in the class. He’s a good bounce-back candidate, but there are major concerns about his ability to stay at third base.

ETA: 2022

 

22. RHP Jimmy Lambert

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

Lambert underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and made two one-inning appearances for the White Sox in 2020 and then getting again shut down due to a forearm injury. Lambert has always been able to get strikeouts, even as a starter, posting a 27% strikeout rate at AA in 2019.

The White Sox could have a few openings in their rotation in 2020 and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lambert get a shot. He has a four-pitch mix and back end starter profile, but there could be room for more if he is fully recovered from surgery and can keep his walks in check.

ETA: 2021

 

23. LHP Konnor Pilkington

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

Pilkington’s stuff grades as below-average or average across the board, but it’s a solid four-pitch mix. In his 95.2 innings of work at High-A Pilkington had a 4.99 ERA, but his FIP and xFIP were in the mid-3’s and he had 13.8% K-BB.

Without an above-average offering, the upside on Pilkington is capped but he still has potential as a back-end starter.

ETA: 2023

 

24. OF Luis Mieses

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Mieses highest wRC+ was an 84 and that was in 2017. He is yet to play above rookie ball but has the tools to be an across-the-board contributor.

The outfielder is extremely aggressive in the batters’ box, never posting a walk rate higher than 3.8%. Without a change to this approach, it’s difficult to see him making it to the majors, but he has some of the better tools in the White Sox system.

ETA: 2024

 

25. INF Lenyn Sosa

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

Sosa has decent pop for an infielder and there’s a potential speed/power combo here as he continues to fill out.

Sosa grades out as a below-average defender, though, and without a clear defensive home and plate approach issues (5.0% walk rate in 2019), there are a few areas that need improvement in order for him to move through the minors.

ETA: 2023

 

26. OF Johnabiell Laureano

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Laurean dominated the Dominican Summer League in 2019, finishing the campaign with a 167 wRC+ to go with six home runs and six steals in 59 games. He also walked 11.4% of the time. Laureano has the potential to produce across the board.

That being said, it should be noted that Laureano struggled in his initial debut in 2018. If he continues to perform against tougher competition he will shoot up this list.

ETA: 2025

 

27. RHP Norge Vera

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: N/A

Vera signed with the White Sox out of Cuba on January 15 for $1.5 million. While the signing of Cespedes is what grabbed the headlines, there is some thought that Vera is actually the better signing. Vera is a 6’3 righty that has gas that touches the upper 90s. He also features three secondary pitches. He will get a shot as a starter and should be able to stick there so long as the secondary pitches continue to develop.

ETA: 2025

 

28. RHP Tyler Johnson

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Johnson has been an effective reliever in the minors, both from run prevention and strikeout perspectives. He’s recorded a career 2.27 ERA during his three-year career and in his highest level of work at AA, the righty had a 32.4% strikeout rate. There are concerns about his ability to consistently find the strike zone, so the ceiling here is limited, but he is knocking on the door of MLB work.

ETA: 2021

 

29. C Seby Zavala

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: MLB

Zavala has big power. In 82 games at AAA in 2019, the backstop clubbed 20 home runs. The problem is that he also struck out 35% of the time. The White Sox have a number of catching options ahead of Zavala so it seems unlikely he makes an impact unless he ends up on another team.

ETA: 2021

 

30. RHP/INF Adisyn Coffey

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: N/A

The White Sox took Coffey in the third round of the 2020 draft. Coffey is a two-way player, but the White Sox drafted him to be a pitcher. On the mound, Coffey features a fastball that touches the mid-90s and a slider. It feels like a relief profile but given that Coffey is a two-way player, there’s more upside here as Coffey can now focus on one craft. Coffey had Tommy John surgery this fall or else he’d be higher up on the list.

ETA: 2024

 

31. RHP Kade Mechals

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Mechals was Chicago’s fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. He made three starts for Grand Canyon University before the season was cut short, sporting a 2.35 ERA and 18 strikeouts. Mechals’ best pitch is his changeup.

Mechals did have Tommy John surgery in May, so he will not return to game action until late 2021 or early 2022.

ETA: 2024

 

32. 3B DJ Gladney

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Gladney is a big-bodied third baseman with a power bat. He belted eight home runs in 50 games as an 18-year-old, so the power is real. He will need to improve his plate discipline (4.5% walk rate, 37.3% strikeout rate in 2020) to climb through the minors. If he does, there is also some risk he ends up at first base.

ETA: 2025

 

33. OF James Beard

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Beard is a burner. He’s one of the fastest runners in all of baseball and could move through the minors on his speed and defense alone.

The bat still has a long way to go. In 2019, the centerfielder struck out 39.1% of the time and hit just .213. If Beard can start to consistently put the ball in play, he can use his speed to leg out some hits and cause chaos on the basepaths.

ETA: 2025

 

34. SS/3B Lency Delgado

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: R

Delgado is a tank, standing in at 6’3” and clocking in at 215 pounds. Like many of the White Sox hitting prospects, the stakeouts stick out in his profile. In 2019, Delgado struck out 37.5% of the time.

Delgado could have average to above-average power and speed, which gives him intriguing upside if he can improve his approach.

ETA: 2025

 

35. OF Bryce Bush

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

Bush is a power-hitting corner outfield type. He’s spent most of his time at third, but it seems unlikely he will stay there.

Bush struggled in 67 games in A-ball in 2019, posting a 86 wRC+ and striking out nearly 32% of the time. There’s big power in the profile, but he will need to put the ball in play more consistently in order to move through the ranks.

ETA: 2024

 

36. LHP Bernardo Flores

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

Flores tossed two innings of relief for the White Sox in 2020. He’s a backend starter profile with limited strikeout upside due to a below-average fastball, but Flores has been successful in the minors at keeping runners from crossing home plate.

ETA: 2021

 

37. RHP Alec Hansen

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: AA

At one point Hansen looked like one of the best pitching prospects in the game but the wheels have come off the last few seasons. From a stuff perspective, he is one of the best arms in the organization, but the right-hander simply hands out too many free passes. Chicago tried him out as a reliever in 2019 but he still recorded a 19.1% walk rate in 39.2 frames.

ETA: 2022

 

38. RHP Zach Thompson

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: AA

Thompson is a towering 6’7” right-hander. He’s a relief-only prospect and put together a stretch of very successful stints across all different levels in the minors before being knocked around in AAA in 2019. His fastball-slider combo could help him find some role in the majors as soon as 2021, but the age and blip at AAA cap the upside and add in some risk.

ETA: 2021

 

39. RHP Caleb Freeman

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

Freeman is a hard-throwing righty with a plus curveball. It’s a two-pitch mix so it is likely a reliever profile. How quickly he moves through the system will depend on whether or not he can keep his walks in check.

ETA: 2024

 

40. RHP Kade McClure

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: A+

McClure has a history of posting ERAs in the low 3s and doesn’t walk a lot of batters. The strikeout upside seems limited (17.8% strikeout rate at High-A in 2019), but if he keeps preventing runs from crossing home plate he could continue to climb the ladder.

ETA: 2023

 

41. INF Laz Rivera

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: AA

Rivera is a free-swinging utility man type with some speed. The infielder has good bat-to-ball skills but his hyper-aggressive approach caused his production to decline greatly once he hit AA. He will need to refine his approach to be able to put his speed to use.

ETA: 2022

 

42. LHP Kyle Kubat

 

Age: 28

Highest Level: AAA

Kubat has knocked on the door of reaching the majors a few times in his career. He’s bounced between the bullpen and the rotation in the minors and holds a career 3.06 ERA, but has struggled at the AAA level. Kubat may get his shot at some point in 2021, but the strikeout upside is limited.

ETA: 2021

 

43. RHP Vince Arobia

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Arobia carded an ugly 6.11 ERA in his 28 innings at AA in 2019, but his FIP (3.80) and xFIP (3.08) indicate he pitched much better than the results showed. He’s a relief-only profile with a knack for striking out batters.

ETA: 2022

 

44. OF Joel Booker

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: AAA

Booker stole 19 bases in 102 games between AA and AAA in 2019. His ability to swipe bags is his calling card, but he has minimal pop in the bat.

ETA: 2022

 

45. OF Anderson Comas

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: R

Comas struggled at the plate in 2019 following a 2018 showing where he hit .306. He’s only 20 years old, so there is still time for the lefty to bounce back.

ETA: 2025

 

46. INF Elijah Tatis

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

The White Sox infamously traded away Fernando Tatis Jr., who has blossomed into one of the best players in all of baseball. Chicago has his younger brother, Elijah, still in their system. He hit just .187 in his 25-game debut, but he was only 17 years old and did walk 14.4% of the time. He’s a long way away but he does have the bloodline on his side.

ETA: 2025

 

47. RHP Spencer Adams

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

Once a top-10 prospect for the White Sox, Adams’ stock has dipped over the past half-decade. The Chisox have primarily used Adams out of the rotation, but he projects as more of an innings-eater or long-reliever than anything else.

ETA: 2021

 

48. RHP Lincoln Henzman

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Hezman has been used out of the rotation for most of his minor-league career but is more likely suited for the bullpen. He’s a pitch-to-contact righty that doesn’t strike a lot of guys out but doesn’t walk many, either.

ETA: 2022

 

49. LHP Bailey Horn

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: College

The White Sox took Horn in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. The lefty had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and was putting together a solid start to the 2020 campaign (2.08 ERA, 27 Ks in 17.1) before it was cut short.

ETA: 2024

 

50. UTIL Zach Remillard

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: AA

Remillard has played every position on the diamond outside of pitcher and catcher so far in his professional career. As a result, his positional flexibility gives him a big advantage should he ever make it to the majors. He has made some offensive strides the last few seasons but he has a career .690 OPS, so it feels unlikely he will become an impact bat.

ETA: 2021

 

Featured Image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

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