Welcome to another edition of the White Sox Farm Update featuring news and notes from all the White Sox minor leaguers. Spring training is now in full swing and opening day for most of the affiliates is just a little over a month away.
The start of spring training also brings updated rankings of Major League Baseball's top prospects. The top league-wide ranking systems (Baseball America, ESPN's Keith Law, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball Prospectus) have each released their updated top MLB prospect lists for 2017.
Seven members of the White Sox organization were featured on the these four different lists. Here are the respective rankings for each:
- Yoan Moncada, 2B - BA (#2), ESPN (#17), MLBP (#2), BP (#5)
- Lucas Giolito, RHP - BA (#25), ESPN (#13), MLBP (#11), BP (#10)
- Michael Kopech, RHP - BA (#32), ESPN (#7), MLBP (#16), BP (#36)
- Zack Collins, C - BA (#56), ESPN (#95), MLBP (#81), BP (#89)
- Reynaldo Lopez, RHP - BA (#31), MLBP (#46), BP (#30)
- Carson Fulmer, RHP - MLBP (#71)
- Alec Hansen, RHP - BP (#97)
Moncada, Giolito, Kopech and Collins dotted all four lists while Lopez made three (all but ESPN), while Fulmer (MLB Pipeline) and Hansen (Baseball Prospectus) each made one list.
MLB Pipeline also ranked the top 10 players by each position with Moncada earning the top spot for second baseman, Collins ranked as the #4 receiver and Giolito (#2), Kopech (#4) and Lopez (#10) all among the top right-handed pitching prospects.
The Farm Update will keep close tabs on these seven players throughout 2017, in addition to the remaining three White Sox top 10 prospects comprised of right-handed pitchers Dane Dunning and Zack Burdi and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe.
Cuban Comet Part Dos?
Multiple reports have linked the White Sox to Cuban 19-year-old outfield prospect Luis Robert who fled Cuba last November. Robert has since established residency in Haiti and has been training in the Dominican Republic for a showcase sometime in late March after the World Baseball Classic.
Robert played in Cuba's Serie Nacional as a member of Ciego de Avila. In his fourth season in the Cuban professional league, he led the league in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS at the time of his defection. The 6-foot-3, 205 pound right-handed batter is considered to be a five-tool outfielder and is widely regarded as the #2 international prospect behind Japan's Shohei Otani.
Robert would have been a featured member of Cuba's national team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He is widely linked to the White Sox due to the team's amount of available international bonus pool money, in addition to the familiarity of fellow Cubans Moncada and Jose Abreu and ties to Michael Ynoa.
Robert would definitely further strengthen the White Sox farm system if signed, and due to his age would seem to fit the team's rebuilding efforts and would be a major international free agent signing for White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn and his staff.
Prospect Spring Training Highlights
- Saturday, February 25 vs. Dodgers - Fulmer strikes out three batters over two innings; Collins goes 1-2 at the plate in 5-3 loss.
- Sunday, February 26 vs. Rockies - Burdi throws a scoreless inning; Moncada walks and scores a run in 7-3 win.
- Monday, February 27 vs. Cubs - Giolito struggles in debut giving up one run and three hits in two innings of work in 4-4 tie.
- Tuesday, February 28 vs. Reds (split squad) - Lopez is roughed up in his debut for five runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings pitched in 10-9 win.
- Tuesday, February 28 vs. Mariners (split squad) - Kopech allows a home run among his three hits and four runs allowed in one inning of work; Collins draws two walks at the plate and steals a base in 8-1 loss.
- Wednesday, March 1 vs. Diamondbacks - Burdi strikes out two in one inning of work; Nicky Delmonico homers and Courtney Hawkins collects two hits in 3-2 win.
- Thursday, March 2 vs. Giants - Fulmer allows two runs on three hits, but records four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings pitched; Danny Hayes drives in three runs with a double in 8-6 win.
- Friday, March 3 vs. Padres - Moncada collects two hits, including a triple, in 3-1 win.
- Saturday, March 4 vs. Angels - Hayes homers and drives in three runs and Kevan Smith has two hits and two runs knocked in at the plate; Eddy Alvarez hits an inside-the-park home run; Giolito rebounds to toss three scoreless innings and record three strikeouts; Burdi strikes out two in scoreless inning of work in 10-2 win.
- Sunday, March 5 vs. Diamondbacks - Lopez bounces back to throw three innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts; Delmonico triples in 4-1 loss.
- C Kevan Smith outrighted to Charlotte Knights, removing him from the White Sox 40-man roster.
- LHP Tyler Matzek, a first round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2009, signed a minor league contract.
- RHP Jake Dunning, brother of recently-acquired prospect Dane Dunning, was signed to a minor league deal. Jake has 30 MLB games under his belt, and spent 2016 in AAA with the Giants org.
- INF Brett Lawrie placed on waivers for his unconditional release. The position is set to be filled by Moncada during 2017.
Other News, Notes and Links
- Former top prospect Rymer Liriano is trying to bounce back from being hit in the face with a pitch nearly a year ago. Liriano, a former top 50 prospect with the Padres, was claimed off waivers from the Brewers last October after missing the entire 2016 season with headaches and vision problems, as Colleen Kane of the Tribune details.
- Just prior to the start of spring training, Kopech cut off his his trademark blonde locks per team request. Kopech's long blonde hair and 100+ mph fastball naturally drew comparisons to N.Y. Mets ace Noah Syndegard.
- Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in December, is vying for a spot in the White Sox bullpen. Rule 5 draft picks must remain in the big leagues with the selecting club for the entire season or be offered back for half of the acquisition price. Covey, a former first round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 who opted to attend college at the University of San Diego, was then selected by the Athletics in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.
- Fulmer believes a mechanical flaw in his delivery was corrected upon his return to the minor leagues after struggling at the big league level last season. Current minor league pitching instructor Richard Dotson, then the pitching coach at Charlotte, had Fulmer focus on his tempo and got Fulmer to stand taller in his delivery to create better angles for his pitches.
- It's now looking like a done deal that Kannapolis will build a new stadium in their downtown, to replace the current CMC Northeast Ballpark home of the Intimidators. The team has added new front office staff with an eye towards the transition, and the town approved the ballpark design. The other three full season affiliates all have had new ballparks built in recent years (Charlotte in 2014, Birmingham 2013, and Winston-Salem 2012).
- In case you missed it, we published our latest Podcast episode, and you can read about it and download it here.
- Giolito's paternal grandfather Silvio was a two-time Olympic fencer for Team USA. His maternal grandfather Warren Frost appeared in numerous television shows including "Seinfeld" and his mother Lindsay Frost was also an actress best known for her time on the soap opera "As the World Turns".
- Moncada was a teammate of Abreu's as a 17-year-old rookie in 2012 on Cienfuegos of the Cuban Serie Nacional.
- Burdi's brother Nick is a top pitching prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization. Both are natives of Downers Grove, IL, and both competed collegiately at Louisville.
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