At any given point in the season, there are well over two hundred players in the White Sox minor league system, spread out among seven US affiliate teams, a Dominican Summer League squad, and instructional leagues. Twice a year, we publish a list of the current Top 25 prospects in the system - roughly the top 10%. These are the players most likely to see the majors at some point.
But are those 25 guys the only ones who have any chance of making it to the big show? There are any number of players on the current and former Top 25's who toiled for years in the minors before getting on that list. And some of those made it to the majors. Every time we make a new version of our list (twice a year), there are new names on it, some of whom weren't well-noticed when they were first signed or acquired.
So, as we get closer to opening the 2013 season, let's take a look at the "Next" guys - 30 or so players who didn't make our Top Prospects list, but who are nevertheless worth keeping an eye on. Some of these guys will move up the ladder, and a few might even wear a major league uniform in the future...
Brandon Brennan - Player Development Director Buddy Bell told us to keep an eye on this right-hander, who fell just outside our Top 25 list. He throws a low-mid 90's FB from 3/4, a slider and a change, and is a bit raw with just one college season under is belt. Brennan pitched just 37.1 innings in his draft year at Great Falls, in a mix of starting and relieving. He'll be in the Kannapolis rotation to start 2013.
Kyle Hansen - Drafted two rounds after Brennan, this 6'8" righty features a plus fastball with some sink that has touched 96. He also has a good slider, an inconsistent change up and a deceptive delivery. He was a reliever in his Cape Cod League stint and he may end up as that, but for now the Sox are keeping him starting. He'll need to polish his secondary offerings to stay there, and he will be starting 2013 in the Kanny rotation as well.
Myles Jaye - Baseball Prospect Nation ranked Jaye the #9 prospect in the Sox system just recently, which was a bit of a surprise given he didn't make any of the other major lists at all. He features a low-90's fastball that touches mid-90's with good sink, which is likely what BPN was focused on. But his secondary repertoire consists of a decent slider and developing other stuff. He's raw and profiles like a reliever, but they'll keep starting him and see if he can refine the offspeed pitches. Jaye will likely start 2013 in the rotation at A+ Winston-Salem, but having just turned 21 and given his struggles in A- in 2012, they may repeat him there.
Trevor Reckling - This looks like a Coop-Will-Fix-Him special. Reckling was once a highly touted SP prospect in the Angels' system, but started falling apart in 2010 and was released in 2012. His tool box had previously included a 91-94 fastball, big moving curve and a good change up. More recently his fastball has been more 88-92, and his mechanics have been described as all over the place. He's in big league camp in Arizona right now, and likely headed for AAA Charlotte to open 2013, possibly after an extended ST stint.
Ryan Buch - Buch is a raw power arm with two plus pitches: a low to mid-90's moving fastball and a 12-6 hammer. He also has a change up, but he hasn't been able to refine it or other secondary pitches, so there is a good chance he becomes a reliever. He puts up good strike out numbers and low walks, but also tends to give up the long ball. He's been starting through most of his minor league career, but pitched in relief half of last season, so best guess is that the 25 year old will be in AA Birmingham's bullpen to start 2013. His two-pitch punch could translate well into that role.
Euclides Leyer - Leyer repeated Bristol (Rk) in 2012, and as a 19 year old struck out 45 vs walking 10 in 40 IP to earn a promotion to Kannapolis late in the season. He's raw and inconsistent, but still very young to be putting up peripherals like he has. Leyer's fastball sits low 90's at last report, and he has shown the ability to induce a lot of ground balls. He likely opens the season at age 20 with Kanny, probably in the rotation.
Todd Kibby - Normally, 37th rounders who repeat Rookie league don't get much attention. But Todd Kibby put up a sub-3 ERA and solid peripherals (8.75 K/9 vs 2.66 BB/9) as a 20 year old that second year, earning him a late season promotion to A ball (1 start). This 6'4" lefty has been described as a power arm, and he'll likely round out the Kannapolis rotation to start 2013 at age 21.
Luis Martinez and Victor Done - The Sox finally started spending big money on international signings in the past year, and the two pitchers with the highest payouts were Martinez and Done. RHP Martinez, who signed for $250,000 in January of 2012, was listed at 6'4" and 195 pounds at age 17 (he's now just turned 18), and at that time already had an 88-91 fastball touching 92, as well as a curve and change. He's got a big frame with long arms, and is probably still filling out and picking up strength. Done is another righty, and signed last August at just 16 years old. He was listed at 6'3" / 190, and BA said he's got a solid delivery and already hit 91 on the gun with the fastball. He also has a sharp curve and a change up. Martinez will likely be at Rookie affiliate Bristol in 2013, and Done will be in DSL or a developmental placement, since he'll be 16/17 this season.
Deunte Heath - Heath matches a common profile for the Sox - a power pitcher with control problems, who they picked up hoping they could help him find the zone (and in Heath's case, stay out of off-the-field trouble). In 2012 at age 26 in AAA Charlotte, he seemed to "figure it out", posting a 1.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, K/9 of nearly 10 and most importantly, a BB/9 of just 2.7 (had been in the 4's and 5's for years before then). That earned him a brief callup to the big club last year, and if he shows he's still got it dialed in, he will be near the top of the call-up list for the Sox pen during 2013. Heath features a mid-90's fastball, and a slider. He probably starts the year in Charlotte's pen, barring injuries during ST.
Dan Remenowsky - Signed as a NDFA at age 23 in 2008, Remenowsky clawed his way up the system through AA in 2011 posting eye-popping strike out numbers (ranging from 10 to 15 K/9) and excellent control (BB/9 rates below 3), getting as high as #20 on the FutureSox Top Prospects list. He struggled a bit in his first AAA stint in 2011, and split time in 2012 between AA and AAA with some improved results at the higher level. Dan's fastball barely scrapes 90, but he can throw at least 3 other pitches reliably for strikes (Buddy Bell once said he could "hit a gnat on the ass on either side of the plate"). Now going into his age 27 year, the clock is ticking, but if he performs at AAA Charlotte like he has at other levels, he could see the Sox bullpen at some point this season.
Ryan Kussmaul - Kussmaul's story is much like Remenowsky's: NDFA signing without the flashy tools, but posting very solid results on his way up the system. He misses plenty of bats (K rates above 9 typically), has decent control, and his core numbers have been solid along the way thanks to keeping hitters to very low averages (.152 AvgA at AA in 2012). Ryan will likely be with AAA Charlotte to start 2013, hoping to grab a chance at the Sox pen during the season.
Kyle Bellamy - This former 5th round draft pick has been as high as #12 on our top prospects list (2010), but he missed all of 2011 due to an arm injury. He started 2012 at A+ and pitched well, but struggled at AA. Bellamy is a side-arming righty, with an 89-90 fastball and a "frisbee" slider. Considering he missed a year of development, going into 2013 at age 25 he's still got a shot. His likely 2013 is in the bullpen at Birmingham, where he'll hope to get the bump that often occurs the second year after an injury.
Chris Bassitt - This 6'5" right-hander was drafted in the 16th round in 2011, but went three levels in his draft year. He dominated Rookie league in a brief appearance Bristol, spent most of the year at Low A Kanny and was nails there (1.75 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.52 K/9, 2.45 BB/9), and earned a brief promotion to High A Winston-Salem. In 2012 he was at W-S, was strong again as a reliever (2.98 ERA, .213 AvgA), and they converted him to a starter mid-season. He's probably a reliever long term, and brings a low 90's sinker and slider from a 3/4 arm angle. Probably will be at AA Birmingham in 2013.
Kevin Vance - Vance was the Sox' 19th round pick in 2011, but didn't hit the radar until his first full year in pro ball. In 2012 he opened at Kanny at age 21 and posted good numbers, but was promoted and pitched very well for Winston-Salem (1.66 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12.1 K/9 vs 2.1 BB/9 in 21.2 IP). Vance has a low 90's fastball, good curve and a developing change. He'll likely start 2013 at W-S closing games, but could be in AA at age 22.
Daniel Webb - Acquired from Toronto in the trade that sent Jason Frasor to Canada, Webb's value as a prospect rests on his mid- to upper-90's fastball. He also throws a decent change, and was used mostly as a starter in the Blue Jays' system, but the Sox have shifted him to the bullpen. The results aren't there yet (5.81 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 10.6 H/9), and he's not considered young anymore. But with that one-two pitch combo, he's got significant upside. He'll be 27 to start 2013, and pitching in either Winston-Salem or Birmingham.
Brandon Hardin - This 10th round pick in 2012 had put up pretty uninspiring numbers as a starter at Delta State, but he became the team's closer for 2012 and posted a 1.03 ERA, and struck out 36 in 35 IP. At Great Falls after signing, he struck out 40 (while walking only 9) in 34.1 IP, and had a 3.41 ERA in a hitters' league. Hardin will be 23 for the 2013 season, and is likely to be closing games for Kannapolis.
Andy Wilkins - Falling just outside our most recent Top 25, don't dismiss Wilkins' chances to see the majors, especially with the Sox system so thin at 1B. Wilkins was as high as #13 on the prospect list (2011), but he had a down year at AA in 2012 (.239/.335/.425, K rate increased to 18.7%). Despite that, he made an AFL appearance and did better there average-wise against tough competition (.270/.327/.416). With Konerko approaching the end of his contract, the lefty-hitting Wilkins has a golden opportunity if he can show his previous form. He's gotten some extended play in big league ST camp already, and he should be at AAA Charlotte in 2013 for his age 24 season.
Dan Black - Drafted in the 14th round in 2009 and not reaching A-ball until he was 23, this switch-hitting 1B has been behind the age curve the past couple seasons, but there is no denying his ability to hit and get on base. In 2012 at A+ (at age 24/25), Black compiled a .315/.392/.483 line that included 17 home runs, with a reasonable strike out rate. He'll likely be the starting 1B for Birmingham in 2013 at age 25, trying to prove he can pass the big test of jumping to AA.
Micah Johnson - The Sox have some middle infielders in their Top 25 (Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien, Joey DeMichele), but don't forget this 2012 draft pick. After posting a .335/.402/.474 line at Indiana his sophomore year, he had elbow surgery and never really got on track his last season there, allowing him to fall to the 9th round. He's got good speed, draws a lot of walks, makes contact and is a solid or better defender at 2B. In 2012 at Great Falls as a 21 year old, he posted a respectable .273/.375/.391 line and stole 19 bases. Johnson likely opens 2013 as the second baseman for Kannapolis.
Seth Loman - Can a 27 year old 1B who has only seen AAA action in 4 games still be considered a prospect? When he hits home runs at a 20+/full season rate and gets on base consistently above .350... maybe. His 2012 line at AA Birmingham (.276/.364/.458) was actually down a little from the previous year, but his K/PA rate dropped to a reasonable level (from 24.5% in '11 to 19.0% in '12). He's already made noise in 2013's spring training with a pair of mammoth home runs in early action. Loman is likely the 1B and/or DH at AAA Charlotte in 2013, trying to prove his power could have some value at the major league level.
Eric Grabe - Core results in rookie league for a 22 year old should be taken with a pretty large grain of salt, and you don't want to get over-excited about a 24th round pick. But when said player posts a .357/.442/.521 line (and with a low K rate), in a lineup with basically no protection around him, he's probably worth at least keeping an eye on. Grabe will open 2013 as a 23 year old, likely starting at 3B for Low A Kannapolis, where we'll get a better read on him in full season ball.
Luis Castillo and Johan Cruz - Castillo was signed in July as a 16 year old third baseman from the Dominican, for $450,000. Per BA, he's got a sound RH swing and plus power. Cruz is a 16 year old shortstop, also from the DR, and some scouts were calling him one of the best shortstops on the island at signing time (also signed for $450,000). Defensively, he's supposedly got good hands, footwork and arm strength (again from BA). Both are young and raw, and will need at least a season in DSL ball before coming north to play in the states, but both are worth keeping an eye on.
Brady Shoemaker - Similar to Dan Black but more prolific, Shoemaker is a relatively low-round draft pick (19th in 2009) who has just plain hit his way up the system while a bit behind the age curve. In each of his stints with at least 100 AB, he's had gaudy OBP numbers (ranging from .381 to .426), and shown decent or better power (SLG from .392 to .585). In 2012 he hit the world in High A (.331/.422/.549), and was promoted to AA for the 2nd half where his average dropped but he still did well (.254/.408/.492). He's caught behind a lot of outfield talent depth in the system (4 in the top 25), but will likely see AA and AAA (if he does well) in 2013 to prove he is ready for a long look and maybe a shot at the bigs.
Mark Haddow - Haddow is another in the group of low-round draftee OF's who are a bit behind the age curve, but still hitting their way up the system. Taking age out of the equation though, in a season and a half, he's gone from rookie ball to low A to high A to AA, which is an awfully quick progression. He gets on base a lot (.375 OBP in 2011 at Great Falls, .388 in low A in 2012), shows flashes of power (7 HR in 392 AB in 2012), has better than average speed and scouts say he's got an above average arm and glove at corner OF positions. Mark could start 2013 at A+ or AA at age 25, and he's already gotten some AB's with the Sox in big league camp in 2013.
Brandon Short - Before the recent emergence of big outfield prospects in the system (Hawkins, Mitchell, Walker, Thompson), Short was near the top of the heap, ranked as high as the 11th best prospect in the system in 2010 after a breakout season. But he was inconsistent in 2011 at AA, and then he lost most of 2012 to an injury. Was his 2010 showing an aberration? He's likely ticketed for AAA in 2013 as a 24 year old, so he's still age-appropriate for the level, and if he does well there, could have a shot as a 4th OF in the next year or two.
Michael Earley - Earley profiles similarly to Haddow - lower round pick, similar age and level, hits for average, gets on base and shows some power, with a little speed sprinkled in. After a solid season at Winston-Salem (.291/.352/.467) and skipping Kanny entirely, he's likely slotted for AA Birmingham's outfield, which looks to be a very athletic group (Walker should be there, probably Thompson as well).
Jason Coats - After putting up pretty impressive numbers in 3+ seasons at TCU, this outfielder went down in his senior season with a torn ACL and fell precipitously in the draft as a result. The Sox picked him up in the 29th round and just recently signed him, and they are hoping he can recapture the combination of power and speed that had BA showing him as a round 6-10 pick before the injury. At age 23, Coats might start the year with a rookie league affiliate, or they could send him straight to A-ball.
Hanlet Otano - More evidence of the increased spending and work on the international front, the Sox signed this very young outfielder in July. Despite being listed as having turned 16 just before being signed, he's already 6'4" and weighs 200 pounds, and BA reported at the time he's already considered limited to the corners. But he has substantial raw power potential. Since he'll still be 16 this spring, he's headed for at least a year of DSL ball before coming to the States.
Michael Blanke - Drafted in the 14th round in 2010, Blanke burst into the spotlight with a huge offensive showing at Great Falls that year (.377/.435/.633), and scouting reports indicated he was already an above average defensive backstop. This propelled him to the #25 slot on our top prospects list in 2010. But in the two seasons since, his bat just hasn't shown up, posting a .694 OPS in A- and .687 in A+ (1.5 seasons at that level). At age 24, he'll likely be at AA Birmingham, and his defense will carry him a ways at the catching position, but he needs to hit a bit more to get back on the radar.
Sammy Ayala - Ayala was the first Sox over-draft pick in 2012, and one of very few at all the past few years. Listed among the Top 200 Draft Prospects by BA, Ayala is considered a raw high school athlete, but he's already a decent defender, and shows power potential from the left side. He was taken in the 17th round, but signed for 5th round money. Ayala played somewhat briefly for Bristol, and struggled there (.202/.261/.274, 23 K in 84 AB), as one might expect from a raw 17/18 year old. But he hit .324 in his last 10 games, so he appears to have made some positive adjustments. He could be another year in rookie ball, at Bristol again or with Great Falls, but Kannapolis is not out of the question in 2013.
Jose Barraza - Another lefty-hitting high school catcher drafted in 2012 (7th round, signed for slot), Barraza was just 17 on draft day and was also assigned to Bristol. Barraza struggled in his first pro season too, going .175/.261/.242 in 135 PA and striking out a lot. But he's considered a raw prospect, has significant power potential, and earned a brief 1-game promotion to Kannapolis at the end of the season. He probably could use another year in Rookie league too, but could be in A ball to start the season.
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Tags: Andy Wilkins, Birmingham Barons, Brady Shoemaker, Brandon Brennan, Brandon Hardin, Brandon Short, Bristol White Sox, Charlotte Knights, Chicago White Sox, Chris Bassitt, Dan Black, Dan Remenowsky, Daniel Webb, deunte heath, DSL Sox, Eric Grabe, Euclides Leyer, Great Falls Voyagers, hanlet otano, Jason Coats, johan cruz, Jose Barraza, Kannapolis Intimidators, Kevin Vance, Kyle Bellamy, Kyle Hansen, luis castillo, Luis Martinez, Mark Haddow, Micah Johnson, Michael Blanke, Michael Earley, Myles Jaye, Ryan Buch, ryan kussmaul, Sammy Ayala, Seth Loman, Todd Kibby, trevor reckling, victor done, Winston-Salem Dash