Gordon Beckham was a gem for the White Sox infield. He rushed through the minors and made an impact with the big league team not long after being drafted. Once Beckham graduated to the bigs the minor league system has lacked depth around the horn. Brent Morel and Dayan Viciedo (if the outfield experiment doesn't work out) are good talents at the top, but there are also some interesting names in the lower minors that could add that depth. Who else is worth getting excited about?
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: NR
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 7
Key Stats: .285/.327/.402 (High-A) .262/.294/.376 (AA)
We took a little flak for not including Escobar in our top 25 a year ago and deservedly so. His defensive value (Baseball America has named him the best defensive infielder in the system three years in a row) at shortstop instantly gives him solid value. Unfortunately, his bat doesn't add much. He took a step forward offensively last year, hitting well in hitter-friendly Winston-Salem and doing really well in the Arizona Fall League. As I've said before, I think he went from underrated to overrated this offseason. He's in everyone's top eight, which given his offensive limitations, I think is both an indictment of the system and an overvaluation of his defense.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: 6
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 3
Key Stats: .326/.376/.440 (AA) .320/.348/.503 (AAA) .231/.271/.415 (MLB)
Morel's strong 2010 earned him 70 plate appearances in the Majors. He was mostly unimpressive, but showed some power. Scouting reports have never glowed about Morel's bat, but he has always performed well enough to be a solid prospect. His defense is the real reason he's battling for the starting job at third base for the Sox this spring. The former Cal Poly star is arguably the most polished prospect in the system and he should be able to have a productive Major League career.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: 4
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 2
Key Stats: .274/.308/.493 (AAA) .308/.321/.519 (MLB)
The Cuban Tank showed White Sox fans a glimpse of his massive offensive talent and power. However, his defense makes it unclear whether or not he will even be an infielder for much longer. The Sox are trying him in the outfield, with decent results in the spring, but a fractured thumb derailed his chances of breaking camp with the team. He has some doubters that think he isn't patient enough to be a productive hitter, but as people say about NCAA Tournament bubble teams I think Viciedo passes the eye test. He has big power and makes good contact. Look for him to force the Sox to give him meaningful at-bats in 2011.
5th round draft pick in 2010
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 16
Key Stats: .307/.396/.463 (Rookie Great Falls)
Wilkins is a definite sleeper candidate this year. Any early draft pick hitter coming from an advanced college program (Arkansas) that has a strong rookie debut is expected to continue that success. Wilkins showed power, plate discipline and contact. As a corner infielder, he sits behind Morel, Viciedo, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. Sounds like a possible trade piece to me.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: NR
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 19
Key Stats: .312/.349/.394 (High-A)
Entering 2010, Gilmore needed to improve his defense, hit for more power and draw more walks. All three remained about the same. However, his batting average jumped almost 40 points despite the same strikeout rate. Hitting in Winston-Salem helped that a bit, but I don't think it's worth getting excited about. He's 22 so there's some hope, but statistically speaking he's the same player he was a year ago and that's not a good thing. The same three things need improvement.
7th round draft pick in 2010
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 20
Key Stats: .292/.364/.417 (Rookie Bristol) .309/.397/.442 (High-A)
Like Wilkins, Saladino is a college draft pick that succeeded in rookie ball. When the scouting reports don't support the player, be wary of that. Others are jumping on his bandwagon though and he's supposedly a very solid shortstop. Unfortunately, he reportedly broke his hand. If true, that sets him back a bit. There could still be time for him to have a breakout year, but given the injury Sox fans should be happy with little more than status quo.
Overall, the system is in decent shape in the infield. Morel and Viciedo look like Major Leaguers of some value so it's good to see them eventually join Beckham as products of the system in the Majors. Saladino and Wilkins could fill the gap in the coming years. Escobar is a potentially very valuable prospect, but he needs to get the bat going. Even names like Juan Silverio and C.J. Retherford have some intrigue, but need to get it together. The Sox have a weak system, but the infield prospects aren't a major problem.