Dynasty: Chicago White Sox 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Mike Guzman takes us through the 50 best prospects in the White Sox system.

After an optimistic 2018 season, the Chicago White Sox farm system as a whole came crashing down to earth in 2019 due to a variety of maladies not seen since Homer at the Bat alongside the traditional prospect attrition we see across Minor League Baseball.

While the bright spots remain among the best in baseball, Chicago’s rebuild remained on hold due to some impact prospects who have fallen by the wayside and created holes which will need to be addressed in free agency or otherwise. An example of this is the glut of outfield prospects behind Luis Robert who have failed to materialize and seize the current vacancy in right field; the team will look to address this with a free agent on a multi-year contract rather than a one or two-year rental.

The same goes for Chicago’s vision of a homegrown bullpen, as pitchers such as Ian Hamilton and Zack Burdi suffered setbacks on the way to achieving a clean bill of health, while other options including Tyler Johnson and Codi Heuer remain a few years away.

While the White Sox farm system no longer boasts a litany of blue chip trade pieces like the front office once envisioned, the system remains high on raw talent and should see a dramatic shift as the 2020 season takes shape.

Here’s a look at Chicago’s Top 50 prospects.

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. OF Luis Robert

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Triple-A

Currently listed as MLB Pipeline‘s top outfield prospect as well as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, Robert dominated three levels in the minor leagues last year while remaining generally healthy and establishing himself a possible future star. Service time stipulations mean Robert will remain in the minors for a few weeks next year, while his incredibly aggressive approach also means we should temper our initial expectations. Nonetheless, if you have Robert’s mix of talent and tools on your dynasty roster, congratulations—the wait will almost certainly be worth it.

ETA: 2020

 

2. RHP Michael Kopech

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

Tommy John surgery took away Kopech’s 2019 season, robbing fans of their opportunity to see one of baseball’s best prospects make his way through major league hitters for the first time. If we take a look back to Kopech’s brief MLB debut, he had the electric stuff that we expect to return, although he did throw a number of high-stress pitches, much like his teammate Dylan Cease did during his debut season. The White Sox have implied that Kopech will be on an innings limit of some sort next year, and that will only further serve as an additional damper to expectations for Kopech’s 2020 fantasy campaign. Still, we have every reason to believe Kopech can reach his “ace” ceiling sooner rather than later and will serve as a reliable piece for years to come.

ETA: 2020

 

3. INF Nick Madrigal

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Triple-A

The next two spots are a bit of a coin flip depending on what you need and what type of scoring your league has, but I’m going to give the slight nod to Madrigal based on his current projections (thinner range of outcomes), expedited arrival, and unique set of skills compared to other players. It’s possible he becomes a fixture near the top of Chicago’s lineup by the 2020 All-Star Break and stays up there indefinitely due to his advanced contact skills and elite eye. He may not steal as many bases as initially projected (43-19 SB-CS while working with some aggressive minor league managers), but everything else has been as advertised thus far for the Oregon State product.

ETA: 2020

 

4. INF Andrew Vaughn

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Hi-A

The third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, Vaughn worked his way up to Hi-A before spending the off-season with USA Baseball. He continues to display an elite hit tool. While his current lack of power is being attributed to a lengthy college and professional season, expect Vaughn to be full go in Spring Training next March. If the White Sox start him in AA, a 2020 call-up may be on the horizon, as he is the best pure first base prospect in baseball.

ETA: 2020*

 

5. RHP Dane Dunning

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

Tommy John Surgery also cost Dunning the entirety of his 2019 season, the result of an elbow injury that occurred just as he was rounding into form at AA Birmingham in 2018. Dunning is a mature, intelligent pitcher with a big-game pedigree and first-round chops, who can still be projected as a quality back-end starter should he come back strong from his unfortunate injury. While there is a significant drop-off between the first four and the rest of Chicago’s prospects, Dunning is still nonetheless a projectable player who could become a key part of a winning team in real life and in fantasy baseball.

ETA: 2021

 

6. RHP Jonathan Stiever

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Hi-A

In less than four years, Stiever has gone from “former football player” to a top-10 organizational prospect…working his way up the Indiana Hoosiers rotation before winning a championship at Rookie affiliate Great Falls in 2018 and posting a combined 3.48 ERA (56 ER/145.0 IP) across two minor league stops last year. He has a middle-of-the-rotation ceiling with an uncertain floor, but is someone to watch as he faces advanced competition consistently during the 2020 season.

ETA: 2021

 

7. OF Steele Walker

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Hi-A

An outfield-mate of Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, Walker rose through the White Sox prospect ranks by…playing above average at his position. That analysis is selling him short, but AA Birmingham has been a buzzsaw for talented outfielders the past few years and Walker will be next up to face Southern League competition in 2020. How he fares will determine the likelihood that he inherits a corner outfield spot with the White Sox in the near future.

ETA: 2021

 

8. OF Luis Alexander Basabe

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

The pinnacle of Basabe’s White Sox tenure came during the 2018 Futures Game, when he turned around a 102 MPH fastball from Reds prospect Hunter Greene and launched a 404-foot home run. Nagging injuries to Basabe’s hands and legs last season sapped some of his power and bat speed, but he still has 20-20 potential and will be thrust into a consistent “sink or swim” role at Triple-A Charlotte sooner rather than later. 

ETA: 2020

 

9. OF Blake Rutherford

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

Rutherford remains an incredibly talented player, but seeing him work through a season of struggles at AA was truly a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty test. A disappointing stint in the Arizona Fall League dampened a scorching August at the dish (.318/.410/.388), but like Basabe, Rutherford will occupy an outfield spot at Triple-A next season and look to take the next step on the way to becoming a major leaguer.

ETA: 2020

 

10. C/1B/DH Zack Collins

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

The White Sox signing of Yasmani Grandal and addition of Yermin Mercedes to the 40-man roster have clouded the playing time picture for Collins, who also has to contend with James McCann becoming Lucas Giolito‘s personal catcher and Seby Zavala serving as a defensive compliment to the offensive-minded University of Miami product. Thanks to a 121-point difference between his OBP (.307) and batting average (.186) last year, it’s unclear if Chicago’s ideal lineup has space for Collins anymore, especially when you consider both Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu will also be picking up more at-bats at DH in the future.

ETA: 2020

 

11. OF Micker Adolfo

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Impossibly just 23-years-old, Adolfo has been in affiliated baseball for six seasons now, after signing with the White Sox in 2013. He has yet to appear in more than 79 games during a full-season assignment, and each injury seems to rob Adolfo more and more of his outstanding arm and power. If he can put it together he may be the perfect piece for what the White Sox need, but it’s looking less and less likely that will be the case.

ETA: 2021

 

12. OF Luis Gonzalez

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

While he has been able to stay on the field, Gonzalez’ .675 OPS in 126 AA games last season coupled with the variety of players in front of him have him looking like a fourth outfielder at best. He is polished defensively and carries a strong arm, but for fantasy’s sake that doesn’t do much.

ETA: 2020

 

13. RHP Andrew Dalquist

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: ROK

A third-round selection in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, Dalquist reneged on his commitment to Arizona after adding four-seam fastball velocity his senior season. He is projectable and currently has a three-pitch mix. Chicago expects him and second-round selection Matthew Thompson to act as reinforcements for the team’s championship window.

ETA: 2023

 

14. RHP Matthew Thompson

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: ROK

Thompson profiles as an electric high school arm who has a very high ceiling and an uncertain floor. Concerns regarding his inconsistent senior season knocked him down to the second round, and the only reason he is below Dalquist on this list is the wider ranges of developmental outcomes.

ETA: 2023

 

15. LHP Konnor Pilkington

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Hi-A

Arguably the best southpaw in the White Sox system, Pilkington nonetheless has a lot of questions surrounding his profile. After long seasons with Mississippi State, a stint in the Cape Cod League, and a tour with the US National Team, Pilkington’s pro career has been marred by a dip in velocity and a lack of life on his pitches in general. If he can regain velocity or refine his arsenal, he could easily become a back-end starter in 2021.

ETA: 2021

 

16. RHP Jimmy Lambert

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

On the plus side, Lambert has polished, repeatable mechanics, and throws his four-pitch mix very well. On the other hand, his age and health history are detrimental to his long-term prospects. He is likely to crack the White Sox rotation at some point and could still become a No. 4 or 5 starter if everything comes together.

ETA: 2021

 

17. LHP Bernardo Flores

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

I admittedly have a soft spot for pitchers like Flores. At each stop in his professional career he has thrown strikes and recorded outs. He does not feature dominating stuff, but is an incredibly intelligent pitcher on the bump and a student of the game off the field. Whether it is in the bullpen or the back-end of the rotation, I believe Flores will continue to provide results and exceed expectations until proven otherwise.

ETA: 2020

 

18. INF Danny Mendick

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

In the same mold as Flores, all Mendick has done is produce. A 22nd round selection in the 2015 draft, Mendick posted a .787 OPS in 39 major league at-bats last season, and will keep second base warm for Nick Madrigal to start the 2020 season. His long-term outlook remains murky, but the ability to play nearly every position on the diamond makes Mendick a valuable piece for the White Sox going forward.

ETA: 2020

 

19. INF Gavin Sheets

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

After enduring early season struggles, Sheets posted an .855 OPS in the second half of last season and cemented himself as a middle-of-the-order run producer. At the big league level he will be blocked by both Jose Abreu and Zack Collins at first base, but with a strong season at Triple-A he could cement himself as Chicago’s next home-grown first base prospect 

ETA: 2020

 

20. INF Yolbert Sanchez

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: ROK

A teammate of Luis Robert on Cuba’s U18 national team, Sanchez signed with the White Sox for $2.5 million dollars and proceeded to record a .827 OPS in rookie ball last year. He is a plus defender whose developmental window coincides with the 2023 club option on batting champion Tim Anderson‘s contract.

ETA: 2022

 

21. INF Lenyn Sosa

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Lo-A

While ahead of Sanchez on the proverbial organization depth chart, he is just 19-years-old and registered a .663 OPS in 122 games against older competition. He still has a bit of physical development left, and the hope is he unlocks a bit more power in the coming years. Based on the wider range of possible outcomes, I am ranking him slightly below Sanchez despite the age and assignment advantage.

ETA: 2022

 

22. OF James Beard

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: ROK

Beard is barely 19-years-old and has an 80-grade run tool. He also went in the fourth round of last year’s MLB Amateur Draft and hit .213 in the rookie Arizona League. He could become an absolute game-breaker, but it’s going to take some time.

ETA: 2023

 

23. OF Bryce Bush

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Lo-A

Bush struggled as a 19-year-old against advanced competition, which is to be expected. He also moved from third base to the outfield, and combined those two things caused his prospect stock to dip. Nonetheless, he’s too talented a player to move outside of the organization’s top 30, especially as other outfield prospects struggle at higher levels.

ETA: 2022

 

24. RHP Tyler Johnson

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

A lat strain derailed Johnson’s 2019 season, but he nonetheless finished with a 2-0 record and a 3.44 ERA (7 ER/18.1 IP) at AA last year. He was set to continue his season with USA Baseball, but missed the Premier12 Tournament with a minor injury. While he no longer may profile as a future closer, Johnson figures to be part of Chicago’s bullpen as soon as next season.

ETA: 2020

 

25. RHP Codi Heuer

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

A converted starter, Heuer was able to throw strikes consistently and post a 1.84 ERA (6 ER/29.1 IP) out of the AA bullpen last season. His stock is rising, and his 60-grade fastball could be effective in a later-inning role, should everything continue coming together.

ETA: 2021

 

26. RHP Ian Hamilton

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

Hamilton’s 2019 season was a tragedy set for Broadway. In Spring Training, he suffered a shoulder injury during a car accident. As a result, he was returned to Triple-A and struggled to the tune of a 9.92 ERA (18 ER/16.1 IP). His season ended in June when he was hit with a line drive while watching the game from the dugout. Following multiple surgeries, Hamilton will look to leave last year behind him.

ETA: 2020

 

27. RHP Zack Burdi

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Triple-A

Burdi is still awaiting his major league debut after stepping off the slab with an elbow injury in July 2017. After Tommy John surgery quelled his meteoric rise from first-round pick to Triple-A closer, Burdi struggled with velocity and pace on the mound. He went 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP in his return to AA last season before undergoing knee surgery. While he still has a late-inning role awaiting him in Chicago, he is no longer the sure-fire first-round pick the White Sox selected nearly three years ago.

ETA: 2020

 

28. OF Luis Mieses

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: ROK

The White Sox continued their trend of signing athletic international outfielders when the plucked Mieses from the Dominican Republic for $428,000 in July 2016. He profiles to be a power-hitting corner outfielder with a strong arm and decent athleticism. Currently 6’3″ and listed at 180 pounds, he hit .241/.264/.359 and was a victim of poor pitch selection in rookie ball. Regardless, his tools make him worthy of a spot on the back end of Chicago’s top-30 prospect list.

ETA: 2023

 

29. C Seby Zavala

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

Zavala made his major league debut in 2019, going 1-for-12 with nine strikeouts during his brief stint in the bigs. Known for his raw power and game-calling ability, he is one of three Chicago catchers who spent a significant amount of time at Triple-A but have unclear playing time situations ahead of them.

ETA: 2020

 

30. C Yermin Mercedes

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: Triple-A

All Mercedes does is hit. A Minor League Rule-5 selection from the Orioles organization, he made his way to Triple-A and continued producing to the point where the White Sox began moving him around the diamond in order to keep his bat in the lineup. Chicago added Mercedes to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from the Major League Rule-5 Draft, but it is unclear how he can find playing time with more well-rounded options in front of him.

ETA: 2020

 

31. INF Jake Burger

Age: 23

Highest Level: Lo-A

The No. 11 pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft, Burger tore his achilles early in his first spring training, then tore it again while rehabbing the injury. Foot problems further derailed his rehab, and he was not able to participate in instructional league following the end of the 2019 season. He will hope to make an appearance for hitters mini-camp in 2020.

ETA: 2022

 

32. RHP Alec Hansen

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Control issues caused Chicago to leave Hansen off the 40-man roster, making him eligible for this year’s Rule-5 Draft. Hansen recorded a disastrous 2.02 WHIP in 39.2 IP at AA this year, despite repeating the level for the second straight season. The 2017 season in which he had everything put together gets further and further away each day.

ETA: 2021

 

33. RHP Spencer Adams

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Triple-A

It’s hard to believe Adams is just 23-years-old, as pitchers who sign straight out of high school have drastically different development timelines. Back surgery sidelined the Georgia native from Triple-A after just 18.0 IP, and it’s unclear whether a move to long relief is in his future.

ETA: 2020

 

34. INF DJ Gladney

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: ROK

Gladney signed as a 16th-round selection and proceeded to hit 15 extra-base hits in the rookie Arizona League. He hit .264/.309/.428 against older competition but also posted a 37.3% K rate. Definitely a player to keep an eye on. 

ETA: 2023

 

35. INF Jose Rodriguez

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: ROK

Rodriguez arrived stateside this season, and more than mirrored his 2018 season in the Dominican Summer League. He has hit near .300 his entire career thus far, and blended both power and speed (186 total bases and 23 stolen bases in 104 games) well. He may be on the cusp of the top 30 sooner rather than later.

ETA: 2023

 

36. OF Anderson Comas

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: ROK

A slump in the last week of the season cratered Comas’s season-long stats, as he was a better player than his .602 OPS would indicate. He’ll need to keep his strikeouts down in order to move up the prospect ranks.

 

37. LHP Kyle Kubat

Age: 27

Highest Level: Triple-A

Kubat was a pitcher who had succeeded at every level until he encountered the pitching nightmare that is Triple-A. A rare reliever-turned-starter, Kubat will enter his age-27 season with dwindling big league chances awaiting him.

ETAs: 2020

 

38. RHP Lincoln Henzman

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

Henzman pitches to contact and pounds the strike zone, but those are no longer necessarily positives in the modern game. He could move back to the bullpen, as he was a very effective college closer and took over the role when the White Sox drafted his teammate Zack Burdi.

ETA: 2021

 

39. OF Joel Booker

Age: 26

Highest Level: Triple-A

Booker got off to a great start in 2019, but struggled during a promotion to the hitters’ paradise known as Triple-A Charlotte. He is aging out of the prospect picture and will likely be passed up in favor of high-ceiling outfield options.

ETAs: 2020

 

40. INF Laz Rivera

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

Rivera lacks power, was a poor base-stealer, and saw his OBP dip significantly against AA pitching. He has fallen out of the White Sox top-30 prospects as a result.

ETA: 2021

 

41. INF Ti’Quan Forbes

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

A second-round pick acquired from the Texas Rangers for RHP Miguel Gonzalez, Forbes has not taken the next step as a prospect. He has good tools and nice power potential, but is blocked at third base by Yoan Moncada going forward.

ETA: 2021

 

42. INF Luis Curbelo

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Lo-A

Curbelo was tasked with repeating Lo-A as a 21-year-old and was not up to it. He has yet to perform at the level he is capable of, with a lost 2017 season partly to blame. His development is worth monitoring, as he is an incredibly talented player who has yet to put everything together.

ETA: 2022

 

43. RHP Kade McClure

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Hi-A

McClure was the average age for a player in Hi-A and posted a 3.39 ERA (25 ER/66.1 IP) with a 1.22 WHIP across 12 starts. He’s a low-ceiling option who has done everything that’s been asked of him, but has yet to face very difficult competition.

ETA: 2021

 

44. RHP Zach Thompson

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: Triple-A

At this point in the White Sox system, let’s highlight some relief pitchers who could make contributions to the big-league club next season. With saves being volatile and the Sox bullpen being fairly fluid, pitchers like Thompson could make an impact. He struggled with the juiced ball last season, but was lights out and a fringe top-30 prospect up to that point. 

ETA: 2020

 

45. LHP Hunter Schryver

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Triple-A

Like Thompson, Schryver was an excellent minor league reliever until he had to encounter last year’s Triple-A conditions. He’ll look to bounce back and make his major league debut next season.

ETA: 2020

 

46. RHP Felix Paulino

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

Acquired from Philadelphia for LHP Luis Avilan in late 2018, Paulino had his 2019 season cut short due to injury. Even if he returns to AA next year, he is advanced enough to break through to the majors later in the season.

ETA: 2020

 

47. RHP Luis Ledo

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Hi-A

Ledo spent years toiling in the Dominican Summer League before coming stateside. He became Winston-Salem’s closer last year and displayed a plus fastball alongside a legitimate slider. It’s time for the White Sox to put him on the fast track. 

ETA: 2020

 

48. RHP Will Kincanon

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Hi-A

Like Ledo, Kincanon excelled at Hi-A and could be fast-tracked depending on what happens in Chicago’s bullpen and how their season shakes out.

ETA: 2020

 

49. LHP Taylor Varnell

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Hi-A

Varnell retooled his arsenal after being selected in the 29th round. He will have a big test stepping up to AA this year and figures to be a bullpen piece in the future.

ETA: 2022

 

50. OF Benyamin Bailey

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: ROK

Hitting .324/.477/.454 as a 17-year-old will put you on the prospect map.

ETA: 2024

(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)

Account / Login
>