Welcome to another entry in a new offseason article series here at FutureSox. Seperate from our twice-annual Top 30 White Sox Prospects lists, we are going to list the top five or ten minor leaguers in the White Sox system at each position on the field.
This article covers the top five shortstops in the system. There was some challenge in determining who was truly a shortstop for this purpose, so we went with the players who'd played there predominantly in their last year or two as a pro. There aren't any highly-ranked prospects in the group, but all five fall into the back end of the Top 30 or just outside of it.
1. Lenyn Sosa - Ranked 24th overall, last level Rk
Sosa was signed for $350k in 2016, noted for having one of the best bats coming out of Venezuela that year, along with soft hands and a strong arm defensively. In an indication of what the Sox saw in him, he skipped DSL ball to go right to AZL as a 17-year-old last year, and he certainly seemed to handle pro pitching that was regularly a few years older than him (.270/.330/.358, 13.3% K/PA). Here in 2018 with Great Falls most of his numbers got stronger (.293/.317/.406, 12.4% K/PA) despite still being 2-3 years younger than the average competition. That's all positive but what bumps Lenyn into the top thirty is that local reports indicate he's got the tools to likely stick at shortstop long-term. He doesn't walk much an isn't a burner speed-wise, but the former can mature with time. Taken together that's an intriguing package and we are looking forward to what he shows in full season ball, where he likely opens 2019.
2. Luis Curbelo - Ranked 27th overall, last level A
Where Sosa's stock is on the rise, Curbelo's has been falling back for a variety of reasons but he's still a prospect to watch. Signing in the 6th round for 3rd round money in 2016 and immediately showing off some power opening in the AZL in his debut, his numbers faded a bit later that year and he missed virtually all of 2017 to a knee injury. Going to full season ball this year as a 20-year-old with just 45 pro games under his belt, he somewhat predictably struggled a bit at the plate (.237/.282/.338). Curbelo is noted for having power potential unusual for a middle infielder (which hasn't shown up much in games yet), and defensively he's got the hands and arm for any slot but may not have the range to stay at short as he fills out. Views of Curbelo's 2018 should maintain context given the jump and lost time. He likely repeats the level in 2019.
3. Laz Rivera - Unranked, last level A+
Laz Rivera's rise has been a joy to watch and some of our writers put him among their own top thirty lists. Taken in the 28th round from a D-II program in 2017 and on seemingly no one's radar, he's hit .309 as a pro since then across three levels to High-A and he's going to the prestigious Arizona Fall League. It's not an empty batting average either as Rivera hit 13 home runs and 30 doubles in 2018 with his short and very quick stroke, adding 17 stolen bases to boot. Defensively he's seen as a true shortstop who can also handle other slots. He's very aggressive at the plate and the lack of patience will need to be addressed, but this is a fun player who so far has destroyed expectations at every stop. Going into his age 24 season, the Sox will continue to challenge him and he could open 2019 with AA Birmingham (though a visit back to Winston-Salem first is also possible).
4. Danny Mendick - Unranked, last level AA
Another lower round pick (22nd round in 2015) who has forced his way onto the radar, Mendick can handle any infield slot competently. He spent all of 2018 as Birmingham's shortstop in his age 24 season, hitting just .247 but bashing 14 long balls and walking at a strong 10.8% rate. He also stole 20 bags. Glove work and arm strength are good enough to play every day but neither jump off the page. More likely a utility profile than a starting shortstop at the highest levels, it's likely Danny starts 2019 with AAA Charlotte and probably gets looks all over the infield. There is no standout tool here but not a lot of weak spots either, and if his hit tool shows well in AAA he could squeeze his way into a major league look.
5. Lency Delgado - Unranked, last level Rk
If Mendick's profile is high floor and low ceiling, Delgado appears to be the opposite. Selected in the 4th round this past June and paid a slightly over-slot bonus ($525k), he was ranked the 367th best draft prospect by Baseball America (equivalent to an 11th round grade or so). The Sox were clearly higher on Delgado than others in the industry. A plus arm and some raw power potential were the calling cards present in the few fragments of scouting information out there at draft time. His pro debut in the AZL as an 18/19-year-old didn't show a lot numbers-wise (.233/.309/.301, 1 HR, 4 SB, 26.7% K/PA). But our friend Sean Williams got a few looks at him in the AZL including some video and came away impressed with both the power potential and that arm.
Others who received top five votes from some of our writers: Yeyson Yrizarri
Next up: Second Basemen
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