Top White Sox Prospects - 2013 Mid-Season Top 25

We recently published the 11-25 list, with details on each of those prospects.  Click here to see that article and read those write-ups and our intro.  This article contains the top 10 with details, lists the names for 11-25, and lists the other prospects who received consideration.

A NOTE ON ELIGIBILITY: This year we have a special case to consider: Micker Adolfo Zapata.  Zapata is an exciting signing with great raw tools, and the Sox system is better for having him.  But after careful internal consideration, it was decided that we simply cannot make a fair evaluation (in relation to other prospects) of this 16-year-old.  So his name will not appear on the list – yet.

Here is the detailed top 10, the full Top 25 and a list of other prospects who just missed the cut.

1. Erik Johnson, RHP     [Previous Rank: 4, +3]

  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2011

Johnson leapfrogs three positions to become the new number one White Sox prospect.  Johnson broke out in his first full year of pro ball in 2012, posting good numbers at Class A Kannapolis (2.53 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9 and 8.2 K/9 in 9 starts), then even better numbers on promotion to High-A Winston-Salem (2.74 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 8.8 K/9).  Opening this season at AA Birmingham, Johnson continued to blow through lineups, posting a 2.23 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 7.9 K/9 and .189 AvgA in 14 starts.  He also showed his endurance, registering three complete games among those 14, and was promoted to AAA Charlotte in June.  So far in three starts there, he’s putting up very similar numbers at the highest level of the minors: 16 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 18 K.  Johnson’s fast ascent comes from a re-tooled post-college pitching approach, and he features a low 90’s fastball (touches mid-90’s), plus slider, very good change up (recently added) and a curve.  Erik seems ticketed for the majors soon, 2014 or possibly even this season (especially if the Sox trade away pitching).  You can get a more in-depth read on Erik by reading our interview with him.

2. Tim Anderson, SS     [NEW]

  •  Drafted 1st Round (17th overall) in 2013

Anderson joined a recent line of extremely athletic position players taken early in the draft by the White Sox.  His best attribute is his speed, stealing 71 bases in two seasons at East Central CC.  His speed has been described as plus-plus and that helps give him good range at shortstop, but he is raw at the position and has only an average arm.  Offensively, Anderson led NJCAA Division II with a .495 batting average as a sophomore, but as a pro he has struck out at an alarming rate in Kannapolis (26 K in 90 PA). Anderson will need to improve on his ability to hit breaking balls, but he has good bat speed and hit 11 homers and 39 extra base hits as a sophomore.  Anderson came out of nowhere this year, but he didn’t focus solely on baseball until college after playing basketball throughout high school.  Anderson was given a fairly aggressive assignment for a player this raw who just turned 20, skipping rookie ball and going to Kannapolis.  He has a .309/.394/.407 stat line in 21 games.

3. Trayce Thompson, OF     [Previous: 2, -1]

  •  Drafted 2nd Round in 2009

Seen by some as the highest ceiling prospect in the system, Trayce Thompson drops one spot on our list.  Thompson had a breakout 2012, starting the season in High-A and finishing in AAA, followed by an Arizona Fall League appearance.  He posted a .254/.325/.486 line at Winston-Salem in 510 plate appearances, then had a short stint with Birmingham (.280/.379/.520 in 58 PA), before ending with just six games at Charlotte. The big concern with Trayce has always been contact rate.  He struck out 28.8% of the time in 2011, 28.2% in 2012, and he’s now down to 23.3% this season. But so far at AA Birmingham, his overall results have been mixed, and he’s posted a streaky .241/.341/.394 line, including 9 home runs 14 stolen bases.  Trayce has serious tools: plus power (25 HR in 2012), good speed, and plus defensive skills.   At 22 in AA he’s got time to keep refining his hitting game, and he could see the majors in 2014.

4. Courtney Hawkins, OF     [Previous: 1, -3]

  • Drafted 1st Round (13th overall) in 2012

After being the top prospect in the system since being drafted, Hawkins drops to number four.  He had a huge 2012, going from rookie ball (Bristol), to Low-A (Kannapolis), to High-A (Winston-Salem) in his draft year out of high school.  Despite the aggressive promotions he posted a combined .284/.324/.480 line, landing him on baseball-wide Top 100 prospect lists.  Starting 2013 at Winston-Salem as a 19-year-old though, he’s had profound struggles with making contact.  In his first 70 plate appearances he struck out an improbable 41 times (58.6% rate), but also had 6 home runs (more than half of his 11 hits at that point).  Then in early May, he went down with a shoulder injury, returning in June.  Since his return he’s lowered that K rate, but still has 54 K in 150 PA (36%), which is far too high.  The power is still very much there (15 HR, 25 XBH), as are the speed and athleticism.  Courtney remains a high ceiling player and a premium athlete with excellent raw tools.  He is very young for his level (was one of the youngest in all of A+ on opening day), so some degree of struggle was expected, and he’s got plenty of time to refine his hitting skills.  You can take a detailed look at his hitting from earlier this season in this analysis piece, which includes video.  Hawkins will probably repeat Winston-Salem in 2014.

5. Josh Phegley, C     [Previous: 15, +10]

  • Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (38th overall), 2009

Phegley jumps 10 spots on our list, thanks to a huge performance with AAA Charlotte this year: .316/.368/.597 in 258 PA.  Josh was drafted as an offense-first catcher in 2009, and skipped rookie ball to go to Kannapolis, posting a low average (.224) but showing good power (9 HR in 196 AB) and a solid contact rate.  But the next two seasons would present his biggest challenge, as he battled serious health issues (ITP Syndrome, and a wrist injury) that could have done more than just derail his baseball career.  Despite the  lack of development time, he was in AAA for all of 2012, where he posted pedestrian numbers (.266/.306/.373) but stayed healthy and played his first full pro season.  Now with that under his belt, he was able to mash AAA pitching, as well as show off his plus arm in throwing out baserunners (over 40% CS rate in both ’12 and ’13).  That and the struggles of Tyler Flowers earned Josh a promotion to Chicago, where he has already clubbed 3 home runs in 5 games.  Phegley’s receiving skills are a weak point, and some question whether he can translate his hitting enough to be a starting MLB catcher.  But it appears he is with the Sox to stay, and we’ll see whether his AAA numbers this year were an anomaly, or the realization of talent after finally having a couple healthy seasons.

6. Carlos Sanchez, SS/2B     [Previous: 5, -1]

  • Signed in 2009 from Venezuela

The highest rated middle infield prospect in the system until Tim Anderson was drafted in June, Sanchez moves down just one slot to number 6.  On Opening Day this year, Carlos was the youngest player in all of AAA at 20 years old. He was coming off a breakout 2012 campaign that took him from A+ to AA to AAA and included an AFL appearance.  He posted a combined .323/.378/.403 line across the three levels.  In the AFL, he posted a .299/.367/.368 line and led the league in stolen bases.  Here in 2013, the aggressive assignment and better competition have caught up with him, as he has a .244/.304/.297 line at this point.  He’s adjusting though, as his OPS has gone up about 50 points a month in each of the first three months, and his contact rate is still decent.  Having just turned 21, he can repeat AAA and still be young for level, so he’s got plenty of time.  Defensively, Sanchez is considered plus at 2B, and competent flashing plus at SS and 3B, so there are multiple paths for him position-wise.  Thus far he hasn’t shown any power (3 HR in minor league 1508 PA), but he does have some speed, stealing double digit bases each year.  Thoughts of Sanchez being in Chicago in 2013 have fallen off, but he’s still got a lot of potential for the future.

7. Keon Barnum, 1B     [Previous: 6, -1]

  • Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (48th overall) in 2012

Barnum is a prototypical first base prospect, with big power potential that dropped more than a few jaws during his high school years.  Last year at age 19 he opened the season at Bristol, but only got in limited playing time due to a minor shoulder injury, posting a .279/.347/.512 line in 49 plate appearances.  Here in 2013, he was out with an injury again (hamate bone this time), and just got started with Kannapolis in mid-June.  He started poorly in June (.150/.239/.175 in 11 games), but already has three HR in July (.237/.275/.553), both small sample sizes.  As is common with power-hitting prospects, the big question mark with Keon is contact rate as he moves up the system.  He’s striking out almost 42% of the time in 86 PA thus far in 2013.  While he’s big and physically mature (6’5″, 225 lb), he’s still a relatively raw 20-year-old.  The Sox system has very little prospect depth at 1B, so if he hits well, he could move up quickly.

8. Tyler Danish, RHP     [NEW]

  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2013

Danish is a 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher out of a Florida high school, where in 94 innings as a senior he didn’t allow a single earned run and struck out 156 along with just 16 walks.  The Durant High School grad throws 90-93 with his fastball and has a three-quarter arm slot that has garnered comparisons to Jake Peavy.  There are concerns about the delivery, but the arm angle has allowed him to add deception.  His fastball does have some good sink on it, which is something the Sox seem to be looking for more lately.  He also has a solid slider and throws a change up.  His breaking pitch has hard break on it and is a good secondary offering.  A pitcher with a good sinking fastball and a good slider sounds like a reliever and his draft scouting report says as much.  His change up will likely determine if he can remain a starter, and he’s been credited with having a good make-up.  The 18-year-old has been assigned to Rookie affiliate Bristol in a relief role (likely to limit his innings), posting good results so far: 9 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K.

9. Chris Beck, RHP     [Previous: 10, +1]

  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2012

Beck was at one time considered a top 10 draft talent after a strong season at Georgia Southern as a sophomore and in the Cape Cod League that summer.  But his 2012 was less spectacular (3.91 ERA, .288 BAA, 115 K, 29 BB in 103.2 IP), allowing the Sox to scoop him up in the 2nd round.  After limited work for Great Falls in his draft year, Beck spent time in the fall instructional league making some changes, and they appear to have helped.  Thus far in 2013 at Winston-Salem, his core results have been good (3.34 ERA), but he’s only struck out 47 in 91.2 innings.  Having skipped Low-A and having some conditioning issues his final college year, it isn’t surprising his K numbers are less than spectacular. He is inducing ground balls at a good rate (1.77 GO/AO).  Chris has a low to mid-90’s fastball, along with a cutter, slider and change.  The lack of whiffs is a bit concerning, but not enough to drop him out of the Top 10 yet.

10. Daniel Webb, RHP     [Previous: 38*, +28]

  • Drafted 18th Round in 2010 by TOR, acquired via trade in 2012

The fastest riser in our top 10, Webb is a big power pitcher with an upper 90’s fastball that touches 100.  The 23-year-old put up less than inspiring numbers for the past three seasons, but he has broken out in 2013 solely as a reliever. He blew away hitters at Winston-Salem (15 IP, 10 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 19 K) and Birmingham (20.1 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 21 K), before being promoted recently to Charlotte.  He’s struggled a bit against AAA hitting in limited action thus far, giving up 12 hits and 9 runs in 6.2 innings, but he’s also struck out 12.  Webb has that high velocity fastball, as well as a curve/slider and change.  Time in AAA will tell if he’s got more than just velocity to bring to the table, but if he dials it in as July and August go on, a call-up to Chicago is not out of the question.  He’ll need to refine his approach against the more experienced hitters in AAA before being ready for the majors.

11. Scott Snodgress, LHP     [Previous Rank: 9, -2]

12. Micah Johnson, 2B     [Previous: Unranked]

13. Marcus Semien, SS/2B     [Previous: 16, +3]

14. Trey Michalczewski, 3B     [NEW]

15. Andre Rienzo, RHP     [Previous: 7, -8]

16. Keenyn Walker, OF     [Previous: 8, -8]

17. Simon Castro, RHP     [Previous: 3, -14]

18. Andy Wilkins, 1B     [Previous: 28*, +10]

19. Andrew Mitchell, RHP     [NEW]

20. Joey DeMichele, 2B     [Previous: 19, -1]

21. Jacob May, OF     [NEW]

22. Jacob Petricka, RHP     [Previous: 22, 0]

23. Myles Jaye, RHP     [Previous: 39*, +16]

24. Rangel Ravelo, 1B     [Previous: 21, -3]

25. Santos Rodriguez, LHP     [Previous: 17, -8]

OTHER PROSPECTS CONSIDERED: Charlie Leesman, Tyler Saladino, Thaddius Lowry, Chris Bassitt, Jefferson Olacio, Braulio Ortiz, Salvador Sanchez, Kevin Vance, Kyle Hansen, Nestor Molina, Taylor Thompson, Dan Black, Nick Basto, Jared Mitchell, Jason Coats

DROPPED FROM PREVIOUS LIST: Jhan Marinez (#18), Brian Omogrosso (#20, graduated), Jeff Soptic (#24, traded), Kevan Smith (#25)


Let us know what you think of the rankings! Should someone be higher? Someone lower? Did we miss anyone you think should be considered?  Post a comment here or join the interactive discussion on SoxTalk’s FutureSox Forum.

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