The Little Things: Brothers LaRoche and Danks, Taylor, AZ Mini-camp and BP Top 10

The past few days have seen a slew of items that normally wouldn’t warrant a write-up by themselves, but together are worth reporting. So here’s a quick recap on the recent moves and stories surrounding the White Sox minor leagues…

Two Brothers Enter

Weeks after the White Sox signed Adam LaRoche to be the foil for Jose Abreu with the big club, the club signed Adam’s brother Andy LaRoche to a minor league deal. The younger and less bearded LaRoche is primarily a third baseman, though he’s played all over the diamond. He was at one time a significant prospect, and he was in the majors for all or parts of five seasons, starting for one of those. But at this point the 31-year old has spent the past three seasons putting up declining numbers in AAA, and Sox fans shouldn’t expect to see him in Chicago any time soon, if ever. He’ll be in Charlotte.

One Brother Leaves – Maybe

In order to make room on the 40-man roster for the recently acquired Emilio Bonifacio, team designated outfielder Jordan Danks for assignment. Pitcher John Danks‘ brother has spent the last three seasons shuttling between Charlotte and Chicago so often they left one seat on the plane in it’s older fabric in tribute. Not really, but he’s been the definition of a 5th outfielder (if such a thing has a definition) for years now, and his story hasn’t changed. The younger Danks is a very good defensive outfielder with some power and speed but lacks the ability to put bat to ball consistently in the majors. He could be claimed off waivers by another club, accept assignment back to Charlotte for a sixth year, or decline and look for other work.

Pinch Hitting for Jordan Danks…

The White Sox re-signed outfielder Michael Taylor to a new minor league deal. A reclamation project on a former top 50 prospect in all of baseball, the Sox acquired Taylor in trade from Oakland in June last year, and after he tore up AAA pitching in Charlotte he made a brief 11 game appearance with the big club in September. In essence he replaces Jordan Danks as a candidate for a 4th outfielder role (especially if Dayan Viciedo is eventually, mercifully traded), or alternately will be the first call-up from Charlotte for any outfield needs. Taylor’s bat still shows some potential and he’s generally considered a solid defender.

Arizona Mini-Camp

A significant number of prospects and some major leaguers spent a chunk of last week in what the team called a mini-camp in Glendale, Arizona. Many of the club’s top prospects, particularly among hitters, were there to get in some work and show the club where they stood in their offseasons. Players who are participating in winter leagues were, for the most part, not there.

As you might expect, there were lots of positive reports doled out. Even Matt Davidson, who struggled mightily in 2014, seems upbeat. You can see this article on MLB.com that includes a video, confirming that hitters were hitting and Phoenix has better winters than we do.

Baseball Prospectus Top 10 List

BP released their 2015 Top 10 White Sox Prospects list today, and it contained a few surprises. The full article at the link is behind their paywall, but the write-ups have a lot of depth and we recommend subscribing and reading it. Here is the list:

1. Tim Anderson, SS
2. Carlos Rodon, LHP
3. Tyler Danish, RHP
4. Spencer Adams, RHP
5. Francellis “Frank” Montas, RHP
6. Chris Beck, RHP
7. Courtney Hawkins, OF
8. Carlos Sanchez, INF
9. Micah Johnson, 2B
10. Jacob May, OF

First and foremost, BP broke the bubble on Rodon being considered a universal #1 in the the system. Reading the details in the post, this is less a function of any slight on Rodon (though there were some small questions cited), and more a continuing indication of Baseball Prospectus’ long-running love of Mr. Anderson. Some other, milder surprises include Beck at 6 and Sanchez over Johnson.

Our own Top 25 Prospects list will come out later this month, and we may have some slightly different opinions. Stay tuned.

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