Outfield has long been an area of strength in the minors for the White Sox. Joe Borchard, Jeremy Reed, Ryan Sweeney and Brian Anderson were all at one time highly touted prospects. Of course, Sweeney is only one of the group to have a sustained Major League career and it wasn't with the Sox. Still, the system has always had some top prospects roaming the outfield grass. Currently, they have some as well, but injuries have set them back. 2009 draft pick Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson both had injuries that kept them out of action for extended periods of time, which was especially frustrating considering both players are far from polished. The two hope to recover this year and headline the current outfield group.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: 5
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 4
The fact that Mitchell moved up in our rankings despite missing the entire season is a sign of how poorly so many below him performed. He's reportedly going to start this year at Kannapolis, where he made his pro debut in 2009. Our top three (Chris Sale, Dayan Viciedo and Brent Morel) will hopefully have graduated from our rankings by the midseason list so Mitchell is the early favorite to take over the top spot (especially since the Sox don't pick until 47 in the 2011 draft). If he shows the same top tier speed, stays healthy and at least holds his own with the bat, it's a successful 2011 for Mitchell.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: 7
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 6
Key Stats: .229/.302/.433 (Low-A)
Thompson joined Kannapolis as an injury replacement after the start of the season and showed some of his upside. Right out of the gate he showed some massive power numbers and a decent walk rate. Naturally, an injury cost him a lot of the season and he slumped later on. Today is his 20th birthday so he has plenty of time, but it's awful to lose development time like he did last year. He's already well-regarded by scouts and publications alike, but 2011 could be a big breakout year since it will be his first full pro season if he stays healthy.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: NR
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: T-11
Key Stats: .316/.365/.491 (High-A)
Short had a breakout 2010 posting career highs across the board. He's still a bit of a sleeper candidate for 2011, but he will need to improve on his plate discipline and his base stealing. He had a career low seven steals last year, which is surprising considering the speed he possesses. His speed helps him play solid D in the outfield, but he is a fringe centerfielder and doesn't have corner outfield type power. Short should be a solid contributor for AA Birmingham, but in order to improve his prospect status he will need to draw a few more walks and steal a few more bases.
2010 Preseason Prospect Rank: 3
2010 Postseason Prospect Rank: 9
Key Stats: .245/.312/.373 (AAA)
It's all about the strikeout with Danks. It's been talked about by everyone who has followed his progress. The former Longhorn is a great athlete that can play a strong centerfield, but he can't make enough contact to be a productive hitter. 2011 becomes a bit of a make or break year for him. If he doesn't take a step forward this season it's hard to imagine Danks will ever be an everyday Major Leaguer.
There are some intriguing outfield names in the lower minors, but no obvious sleeper picks in my mind. Veteran minor leaguers like Stefan Gartrell, Christian Marrero, Justin Greene and John Shelby have had some success, but don't appear to be prospects anymore. Younger players like Kyle Colligan, Nick Ciolli and Brady Shoemaker had some success last year and it wouldn't be a major surprise if any of them break out in 2011. Jose Martinez is another guy worth following if he can stay healthy. There are quite a few names to follow, but ultimately Mitchell and Thompson are in a league of their own in this system.