Twice annually, the writers at FutureSox work together to produce a list of the top prospects in the White Sox system. We use a voting system among the staff, then argue out specific players and rankings, until we come to a final list.
This is the full list, including capsules for the top 15, and listing the names for 16-30 and those who just missed the list. For more details on the other prospects, you can read our Just Missed teaser and the 16-30 list, each of which have capsules for the players listed.
ELIGIBILITY: We consider a “prospect” any player in the White Sox organization who has not yet achieved MLB Rookie status.
HOW WE EVALUATE PROSPECTS: You can read this primer to get an idea of how we go about the sticky, subjective business of ranking prospects. Our writers and contributors took in games all over the system in the past year, both at the affiliates and on the back fields at Camelback Ranch.
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: In just 14 months, the White Sox farm has gone from among the five weakest in baseball, to likely the best in the game in terms of prospect talent. That huge leap has been propelled by waves of trades acquiring more than a dozen significant prospects, two full amateur drafts, a $55M international spending spree and minimal exodus from the minor leagues. This is the deepest the White Sox farm has been since at least the late 1990’s, and possibly much further back than that. Rick Hahn and company have fully and enthusiastically embraced a gut rebuild, and for that, the writers at FutureSox are thankful.
FOR MORE DETAILS: If you click on the bolded player’s name, you’ll be taken to that player’s prospect profile, where you can find deeper details, links to videos and other content.
1. Yoan Moncada, 2B [Previous: 1st, no change]
- Signed from Cuba in 2015 ($31.5M bonus) by BOS, acquired via trade in December of 2016
The top-rated prospect in the White Sox system is by most accounts also the top-rated prospect in all of baseball. Yoan Moncada brings plus power from impressive bat speed, combined with a patient approach at the plate. He oozes athleticism and has plus speed he can use as a weapon on the basepaths and in the field. Defensively, he’s improved at second base, possesses a strong arm and flashes above average plays, but some refinement is still needed with the foot and glove work. The complete package gives him star potential – don’t go jumping off a cliff over his first 50 PA on the South Side this year. He’s just getting started with the White Sox.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF [NEW]
- Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2013 by CHC, acquired via trade in July of 2017
He may rank second on this list, but he’s also a top ten prospect in all of baseball (ranked 5th by Baseball America, 7th by MLB Pipeline on their midseason lists) and some feel he could end up every bit as valuable as Moncada. Eloy Jimenez parallels Moncada in being a physical specimen (6’4”, 205) with a loud hit tool and lots of power, with Eloy’s raw power being even greater than Moncada. His athleticism and speed are certainly not at the same level as Moncada, but he has a strong arm and is an average defender in the corner outfield with room for being better than that. He also makes contact and adjusts his hitting on the fly very effectively, giving his hit tool a very high floor.
3. Michael Kopech, RHP [Previous: 3rd, no change]
- Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (33rd overall) in 2014 by BOS, acquired via trade December 2016
Michael may be “only” the third best prospect in the White Sox system, but he’s also one of the top pitching prospects in MLB. Kopech throws an upper 90’s four-seam fastball, deep into games, from an ideal pitcher’s frame. He also offers a two-seamer around 93-95 that moves opposite the big heater, an upper 80’s slider that can be outright unfair, and an improving change-up. Kopech’s command has been his Achilles heel, he has issued 57 walks in 105.1 inning this season, but his recent starts have shown a marked improvement. A premium athlete and still just 21 years old in AA, there’s a lot to be excited about here. See this post for an in-depth report from this year. Expect the White Sox to take their time moving him up, especially since he’s now well over his career high in innings pitched on the season.
4. Luis Robert, OF [NEW]
- Signed from Cuba (indirect) in 2017 for $26M ($50M effective including penalties)
An international mega-prospect who received a bonus rivaling Moncada’s, Robert’s signing kicked the team well over their spending limit and caused them to lose the chance to sign anyone in the J2 market for over $300k in the next two years. This was a sharp departure from the White Sox previous conservative approach to the Latin-American market. Turning 20 years old today (Happy Birthday!), Robert is a true five tool talent and one of the best 30 or 40 prospects in MLB. He’s got at least 70-grade speed, and is given above average or plus marks for his hit, power and fielding tools. The White Sox sent Robert to the Dominican Summer League for “tax reasons,” and though that is a very conservative assignment for a player of his talent, he likely needed a acclimation period back into game action after a long series of showcases. He missed some time with a mild injury but recently returned to action, and likely he will be in A-ball to open 2018.
5. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP [Previous: 4th, -1]
- Signed from Dominican Republic in 2012 ($17k) by WAS, acquired via trade December 2016
Coming into 2017, Reynaldo Lopez appeared to be the closest to major league ready among the offseason-acquired pitching prospects. He’s proven that to be true pretty thoroughly, and he’s likely to be called up any day now. The 23-year-old Dominican who signed for just $17,000 in 2012 has a relatively small frame for a prototypical starting pitcher, but his stuff grades out quite well. Lopez brings a mid-to-upper 90s fastball described as “electric”, an at least above average curveball, and a change-up that has developed as this season has gone on. His command and control have continued to improve, and he’s so far proven doubters wrong about his ability to stick as a starter. A consensus Top 100 prospect in baseball, Lopez is a key piece in the rebuild.
6. Lucas Giolito, RHP [Previous: 2nd, -4]
- Drafted 1st Round (16th overall) in 2012 by WAS, acquired via trade December 2016
The White Sox made it clear that Lucas Giolito needed to get his mechanics back to where they were previously if he was going to succeed. Not surprisingly he struggled mightily at first, booking a 6.41 ERA and walking 22 batters in his first eight starts across 39.1 IP. After focusing on fastball command and adjustments to his offspeed pitches, he has been erratic but much improved, getting the ERA down to 4.14 in the next 13 starts, while also bringing down his walk rate and whiffing plenty of batters. Recent scouting reports indicated that while he may not be the top-of-rotation prospect he once was, the fastball velocity (now back to mid-90s) and command are returning and his offspeed pitches are much improved. He’s slid a few slots since January, but Giolito is still a supremely talented pitcher who will very likely be a part of the White Sox rotation for a long time.
7. Blake Rutherford, OF [NEW]
- Drafted 1st round (18th overall) in 2016 by NYY, acquired via trade July 2017
Blake Rutherford was a White Sox draft target in 2016, but they elected to draft Zack Collins instead and Rutherford was selected by the Yankees eight picks later. After being rumored to be a White Sox trade target since, they finally got their man in the Tommy Kahnle/David Robertson trade. Rated recently by Baseball America the 36th best prospect in baseball, his profile suggests he could be that rare 5-tool player. Earning the nickname “The Barrel” in Yankees camp, Rutherford’s hit and power tools project at least average with a good chance at above. His athleticism is such that there’s a decent chance he could stay a center fielder, but his arm is strong enough for any slot. He’s got some speed but it’s not a plus tool. The 20-year-old is in his first full season as a pro, but there is a lot of ceiling room to work towards.
8. Alec Hansen, RHP [Previous: 7th, -1]
- Drafted 2nd Round in 2016
There are some who see Alec Hansen’s ceiling as higher than some of the pitchers ahead of him on this list, but there’s also more risk in the profile. The White Sox bought low on the very tall right-hander after a rough junior year at Oklahoma and the gamble appears to have paid off. Listed at 6’7″ but probably taller, Hansen has a surprisingly repeatable delivery and his stuff is substantial. His fastball sits mid-90s and can be as high as 98 – a plus offering with cut-like action. There’s also a big curveball and a slider that both hint at above average potential, and a change-up he’s using more and more. Command is still somewhat loose, he doesn’t always hold velocity in deeper innings, and he struggles to control the running game. But the potential is there for a mid-rotation starter or perhaps more.
9. Zack Collins, C [Previous: 5th, -4]
- Drafted 1st Round (10th overall) in 2016
Coming into 2017, the consensus though process around Zack Collins was that the bat would play well, but many were unsure he could stick behind the plate. Yet as we stand today, he’s made substantial strides defensively that are increasing his chances to remain a catcher, but there are some questions around the hit tool. Collins still shows an excellent batter’s eye (17.2% BB rate) and that plus power is on display (15 HR in 90 games so far), but he’s struggling to stay above .200 in A+ Winston-Salem and has struck out in 29% of his plate appearances. While those latter numbers aren’t so great, if you remember what it was he is focused on for now, the season is still at least a mild success. Some see a swing hitch issue and/or getting pull-happy being problems, but those are more easily addressed than becoming a major league catcher. Yes, he’s dropped a little bit on our list, but there is nothing to panic about at this point.
10. Dylan Cease, RHP [NEW]
- Drafted 6th round in 2014
We round out our top ten with yet another trade acquisition and yet another hard-throwing right-hander. Cease got a $1.5M draft bonus as a prep, far exceeding his sixth round slot, and is a TJS survivor from his high school years. Not surprisingly the Cubs were cautious with his innings and progression. Ranked the 83rd best prospect by Baseball America, the 21-year-old features a mid-to-upper 90s fastball that has reached 101 and a hammer curve that scouts have raved about. Stuff overplays control for Cease at this point and he’s already at a career high in season innings, so expect the Sox to continue with the shorter outings for now as he builds endurance. This is a high ceiling, high risk prospect, though indications are that he’s at least a major league reliever if he stays healthy.
11. Dane Dunning, RHP [Previous: 10th, -1]
- Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (29th overall) in 2016 by WAS
More right-handed pitching, but Dane Dunning profiles much differently than the other arms above him on this list. A reliever his last year at Florida, Dunning has been purely a starter as a pro, and has had big success in the role. The stuff includes a low-90s fastball that will touch 95 on occasion, with a lot of downhill plane from his 6’4″ frame. His mid-80s slider shows as plus and he’s got a change-up too. Like Rutherford, Dunning was a player the Sox coveted in the draft but weren’t able to snag. Dane has been doing quite well in both levels of A-ball in his age 22 season, and while he may not have quite the ceiling that some above him do, he will likely be a fast mover and his control and command are well ahead of most of his peers.
12. Jake Burger, 3B [NEW]
- Drafted 1st Round (11th overall)
If you want a picture of just how much the White Sox system has changed, their first round pick this year didn’t even crack the organization’s top ten prospects. That said, there is plenty to like with Burger, who signed for abut 15% under slot at $3.7M. Burger was one of the top power bats in the draft with a plus grade, but unusually for a power hitter he also makes consistent contact and grades out well on the hit tool. His .356/.440/.575 line and 7:7 K:BB ratio in his first 20 games in Kannapolis seem to echo the scouting reports. Defensively there are mixed reviews on whether or not he will be able to stay at third base, but he has the arm strength and instincts to give it a shot. There’s no speed in his game and he’s got a body that will need extra care, but his bat looks like an exciting addition to the system.
13. Spencer Adams, RHP [Previous: 13th, no change]
- Drafted 2nd Round in 2014
Spencer Adams’ pro career has thus far been a play in three acts. In his pro debut, he featured a 92-96 mph fastball with big movement from a crossfire delivery, and a pretty wicked upper 80’s slider. Then during 2015 and most of 2016, the White Sox got him into the “tall and fall” school, and more north-south; the changes plus the rigors of a full season on a slender teenager pushed down his velocity. He was primarily an upper 80’s two-seamer, with a 91-92 mph 4-seam secondary. Now starting late last year and into this year he’s added strength and stamina, the 4-seamer is more 92-94 with some 95’s, and both his 2S and slider have added bite. Still just 21, getting batters out effectively in AA and missing more bats, Adams’ stock is up and the chances of an MLB starter future are much more firm.
14. Casey Gillaspie, 1B [NEW]
- Drafted 1st Round (20th overall) in 2014 by TB, acquired via trade in July 2017
Recently acquired from the Rays, Casey Gillaspie (brother of former White Sox, Conor) is the definition of a “buy low” candidate. Ranked among the top 100 prospects in MLB as recently as this past winter, Casey was looked at as a plus power bat who also showed excellent plate discipline and a quick, efficient swing. But 2017 has not been kind to Gillaspie, who has thus far slashed .227/.296/.357 in AAA and is currently on the disabled list with a broken toe. It’s not just the numbers either – recent scouting reports have soured on his offensive skills, and as strictly 1B/DH profile, that is a big deal. One could rank Gillaspie anywhere from lower top ten to outside the top thirty in this system, all dependent on whether you think his 2017 thus far is a blip or a real problem. He ended up somewhere between on this list.
15. Jordan Stephens, RHP [Previous: 11th, -4]
- Drafted 5th Round in 2015
Jordan is a pitcher we are consistently a little higher on than most publications. A TJS survivor from his time at Rice, in two calendar years as a pro his results have been very good – low walk rates, missing plenty of bats, and solid core results. In terms of stuff, the repertoire has changed a little bit, especially recently when he missed April and May of this season due to forearm tendonitis. He’s now throwing a low 90’s fastball that has been creeping up to the mid-90s, a new upper 80s cutter that replaces his slider, an above average curveball and a change of pace. Health concerns are there given the history and his 6′ frame for a starter, and he doesn’t have any plus pitches, but the complete package works and give him a back end starter ceiling.
16. Gavin Sheets, 1B [NEW]
17. Zack Burdi, RHP [Previous: 8th, -9]
18. Jordan Guerrero, LHP [Previous: 22nd, +4]
19. Micker Adolfo, OF [Previous: 21st, +2]
20. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF [9th, -11]
21. Carson Fulmer, RHP [Previous: 6th, -15]
22. Ian Clarkin, LHP [NEW]
23. Ryan Cordell, OF [NEW]
24. A.J. Puckett, RHP [NEW]
25. Jameson Fisher, OF [Previous: 14th, -11]
26. Luis Curbelo, SS [Previous: 15th, -11]
27. Seby Zavala, C [Previous: 27th, no change]
28. Luis Gonzalez, OF [NEW]
29. Bernardo Flores, LHP [Previous: 25th, -4]
30. Alex Call, OF [Previous: 12th, -18]
What do you think of the list? Who would you have put higher or lower? Comment below, or connect with us on social media and discuss!
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