The Top Prospect Report is a weekly post here at FutureSox highlighting performances of the top prospects in the system. More specifically, it will cover the top 15 prospects (plus a bonus or two outside that top fifteen) as classified by our most recent FS30 ranking.
This can serve as your one-stop shop to see weekly and season stat lines for all the high-end talent growing on the farm. Most players will have a few notes about their recent performance, while others may have more in-depth blurbs. How much a prospect is featured in a given week will be dictated by performance or relevant narratives.
*Stats may not reflect last night’s results*
*This will be 2017’s final top prospect report. As such, each player’s write-up will feature a Season Snapshot*
1. Yoan Moncada, 2B (MLB)
Moncada remains on the 10-day disabled list with continued shin splint irritation. Moncada is likely to see more at-bats in September and will inevitably lose his prospect status. The short term goal for Moncada will be to end the season on a high note. It will be less about what the stat line looks like when the season comes to the close, but more how he continues to adjust to breaking stuff at the big league level.
The headliner of the Chris Sale trade, the spotlight was bound to be on Moncada all season. The mandate was clear that Chicago would hold him down through his service time threshold to gain an extra year of control and stave off Super 2 status, so Moncada was always going to call Charlotte home into the summer. In his first taste of Triple-A, he lit the league on fire with an .885 and .883 OPS in April and May respectively before getting slowed by a thumb injury. After a short DL stint, Moncada began to cool off and swing-and-miss issues started to crop up. He’s compiled a 38 percent strikeout rate between the minors and MLB level since June and that’s been the largest cause for concern. A supreme athlete with high baseball intellect, it’s not out of the question that Moncada can curb some of those strikeouts, especially with so many of them being over selective. The harder to teach trait, his eye, has played well all season though. He sported a .377 OBP in 361 PAs at Charlotte and saw his walk rate actually improve to 15.1 percent in Chicago. That is an invaluable skill and when you consider Moncada’s contact was of the medium-hard variety ~88% of the time in the majors, it’s a lethal combination. This isn’t to discount his speed either (17 SB in AAA), which gives him another plus tool. The big thing to watch for Moncada in 2018 is his ability to hit from the right side, where he mustered just a .644 OPS in Charlotte and a dismal .400 OPS in Chicago. But make no mistake; Moncada’s ceiling is still exceptionally high. For context, 2017’s top AL MVP candidates Mike Trout and Aaron Judge had .220/.281/.390 and .179/.263/.345 lines in their similarly sized MLB cups of coffee. So a slow start doesn’t truncate Moncada’s future value one iota.
Last Week: Did Not Play
Triple-A: .282/.377/.477 (.823 OPS), 87 H, 9 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 17 SB, 13.6 BB%, 28.3 K%, .379 BABIP, 361 PA
MLB: .188/.328/.356 (.684 OPS), 19 H, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 15.1 BB%, 36.1 K%, .296 BABIP, 122 PA
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF (Double-A Birmingham)
Rain is about the only thing that can cool off Eloy Jimenez at this point as the last two Barons games fell victim to storms. That didn’t stop Jimenez from collecting a pair of doubles and home runs this week to put an exclamation mark next to a 1.272 OPS. All of which was fueled by three three-hit games out of his last four.
Jimenez was quickly becoming one of the top prospects in baseball and that was before his trade to the Chicago White Sox. Since then, Jimenez has put up video game numbers only possible if you’ve successfully hacked your video game. While his .841 OPS with the Cubs at Myrtle Beach was nothing to scoff at, his OPS at both High-A and Double-A in Chicago’s system has sat above 1.000. Jimenez has never shown excessive swing-and-miss issues during pro ball and he’s sat around a healthy 20 percent mark throughout his career. That contact ability paired with what is 70-80 grade power makes him one of the most tantalizing bats among the entire pro prospect field. He’s even upped his walk rate this season and looks like a good bet to carry a .350+ OBP with substantial pop. The run and glove tools lag behind the bat, but they’re certainly playable and there’s not a single area that will sink him. One of the more impressive Eloy stats in 2017 was a 1.087 OPS against LHP. He’s just a home run shy from the 20 HR mark but with four games left, it’s good money he’ll get there. His .314/.379/.578 line and recent success at Double-A means he’ll have a real shot to take the place of Moncada as the number one prospect in the game when the newest publications come off the presses.
Last Week: .458/.480/.792 (1.272 OPS), 11 H, 2 HR, 2 2B, 1 BB, 4 K, 25 PA
Cubs High-A: .271/.351/.490 (.841 OPS), 42 H, 6 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 0 SB, 10.3 BB%, 20.1 K%, .304 BABIP, 174 PA
White Sox High-A: .345/.410/.682 (1.092 OPS), 38 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB, 9.8 BB%, 17.2 K%, .370 BABIP, 122 PA
White Sox Double-A: .368/.400/.614 (1.014 OPS), 21 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 5.0 BB%, 20.0 K%, .429 BABIP, 60 PA
3. Michael Kopech, RHP (Triple-A Charlotte)
Kopech’s encore start with the Knights was even better than his debut and it came against a formidable Gwinnett line up to boot. The righty tossed five innings of two-hit ball and the lone earned run came on a single and subsequent throwing error by teammate Rymer Liriano. He ran into minimal trouble the entire start, with the only nitpick being a trio of walks. But he countered that with six punch-outs, including one against Ronald Acuna who went a notable 0-for-3 against him. Despite being well above his former innings high, Kopech still threw 102 pitches with little sign of fatigue.
Maybe a strong Spring Training should have been an indicator. Maybe Kopech’s unbreakable air of confidence and loud stuff should have perked up the prospect radar, but no one could have sensed the type of season the flame thrower would turn in. Kopech was already a top prospect in baseball, even a fringe top ten. But he’s since turned “fringe” into “uncontested” with a campaign that has entrenched him as possibly the top arm in the minor leagues. He flourished at Birmingham with a 2.87 ERA over 22 starts in what was already an aggressive assignment. Similar results in two starts at Charlotte is merely icing on a cake already sporting plenty of sugar. It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Kopech, who posted a 6.95 ERA over five June starts as his control evaded him. But that BB/9 that was once nearing six is completely in the rear view mirror, as he’s only walked twelve batters since mid-July. His milestones include both a career high in strikeouts (165) and innings (129.1). Despite inciting massive swing-and-miss, making contact against Kopech hasn’t exactly led to favorable results. The opposition sported a .274 BABIP against him and an overall .186/.294/.276 (.571 OPS) line. It was said that you could take someone with Kopech’s raw arsenal, frame, and moxie, put him in Chicago’s pitching factory, and churn out an ace. Suddenly, that looks like a very reasonable estimation.
Last Week: 0-0, 1.80, 6 K, 3 BB, 1 GS, 5.0 IP
Double-A: 8-7, 2.87 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 11.69 K/9, 4.53 BB/9, 0.45 HR/9, 22 GS, 119.1 IP
Triple-A: 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 9.00 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, 2 GS, 10.0 IP
4. Luis Robert, OF (DSL White Sox)
Robert played in just two games this week to close out his year in the DSL. He ended the season with a bang, going 5-for-9 with a home run, double, stolen base, and five RBIs.
The White Sox opened the coffers big-time, landing the most hyped and sought after international prospect since Yoan Moncada. In Robert, they received a tool shed with a notable power/speed combo. As with any international player, the profile remains raw – especially for someone who was just 19 at signing. The early returns have been unflappable despite Robert having taken off about a year from organized baseball. Various injuries qualified as hiccups in his campaign, but he still managed to post a .310/.491/.536 line in the DSL. Most impressive was his eye (22/23 BB/K). While the DSL doesn’t offer stiff competition, Robert did quite well in his tune up with eight doubles, a triple, and three home runs in just 28 games. He added twelve stolen bases as well, utilizing speed that is comparable to Moncada. Robert is slated to play in fall instructs (the version in the Dominican, not Arizona) and next season will be a more viable barometer as he’ll take his talents stateside.
Last Week: 5-for-9, HR, 2B, SB, 0 BB, 1 K, 10 PA
Season Line: .310/.491/.536 (1.027 OPS), 14 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 12 SB, 19.3 BB%, 20.2 K%, .397 BABIP, 114 PA
5. Lucas Giolito, RHP (MLB)
“It will be interesting to see what the ceiling for Giolito looks like on a night where he has both the fastball command working and the curve.”
I wrote that in last week’s top prospect report and Giolito was kind enough to give me the answer in his second major league outing. The short answer is very good but Sunday’s start probably wasn’t even the ceiling for the righty, who could aim higher with even better control. He opened the game with a quick 1-2-3 inning that saw him send both Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton down on strikes. He had both the fastball and curveball working well, able to get the latter to consistently break into the zone. Aside from a Mahtook triple, he converted three ground balls into outs in the second. He retired 9-out-of-10 hitters from the fourth through the sixth inning, with his command only slipping once during a HBP. Despite being at an upper 80s pitch count, it looked like Giolito could even make his way into the eighth inning after retiring the first two in the seventh. But fatigue started to show as he issued a walk, single, and walk over the next three batters, with his fastball command noticeably off. Rick Renteria headed for the mound and it looked like Giolito would leave with a quality outing, but the righty was poised enough to lobby to finish off the frame. Facing Iglesias, a comical moment in cynicism occurred, as he ripped a line drive into the left field seats. Grand slam, quality start gone, and ERA bloated just like that. Or was it? A late foul ball call reversed the home run and revived Giolito, who got a ground ball to end the inning and cement seven shutout frames of three hit ball.
That final Jose Iglesias at-bat serves as a microcosm for Giolito’s entire season, which has been a whirlwind to say the least. A shiny top prospect with the Nationals, he saw his stock fall in DC and the blockbuster trade to Chicago offered the chance for a reset. That didn’t happen right away as he labored to a 5.36 ERA through his first ten starts at Charlotte, and that included his 7-inning no-hitter against Syracuse. The command was all over the place, delivery out of sync, and the home run problems seen in DC were palpable at Triple-A (1.44 HR/9 over 10 GS). Mediocrity prevailed from there through mid-July, save for two double-digit strikeout outings. Giolito flipped a switch in August with a 2.05 ERA over five starts as everything began to fall into place. The most intriguing development is that he’s regained some of his lost velocity, though he’s unlikely to ever work consistently in the upper 90s. Even as a mid-90s arm, he has enough life on his fastball to set up his offspeed stuff, which has shown flashes of plus all season. The total package may no longer be that of an ace, but he’s fairly low-risk to stick as a middle-of-the-rotation starter with the ability to sprinkle in front line outings from time to time.
Last Week: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 K, 3 BB, 1 GS, 7.0 IP
Triple-A: 6-10, 4.48 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 9.37 K/9, 4.13 BB/9, 1.19 HR/9, 24 GS, 128.2 IP
MLB: 1-1, 2.77 ERA, 6.05 FIP, 5.54 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, 2.08 HR/9, 2 GS, 13.0 IP
6. Blake Rutherford, OF (Kannapolis Intimidators)
It was a brutal week for Rutherford, who went 1-for-16 as his season quietly ticks to a close. He had just three extra-base hits over the entire month of August, which flowed into his .203/.289/.243 line. The lack of pop has been a recurring theme all year as he’s slugging just .330 over the last 90 days.
FutureSox’s Rob Young wrote a recent feature on Rutherford that qualifies as a solid snapshot of his season with quotes from the outfielder. In short, it’s been an underwhelming year for the top draft pick who traded in his New York pinstripes and headed to Chicago in a major July blockbuster deal. Rutherford’s annihilation of Rookie Ball in 2016 (.382/.440/.618 line) wasn’t a prelude to a 2017 in which he’s struggled in A-ball. He’s a year or two young for the level, but his advanced approach at the plate was supposed to put him in a good position to be a fast riser. To his credit, his clean mechanics and trained eye have made him a contact-centric hitter but the power has been absent (.092 ISO). It’s been even worse since joining Kannapolis (.280 SLG in 100 PAs), likely not aided by a ballpark that doesn’t play well for power. That’s a facet of his game the White Sox still buy, and maybe it takes him adding some muscle to his 6-3, 195 lb frame or a swing adjustment. His 25 doubles on the year show his ability to drive the ball, but he’s had little over-the-fence pop. The outfielder will have to take his 16.7 percent strikeout rate into next season with hopes he can maintain a similar contact profile but get more punch behind his barrel. With a stable floor, Rutherford has a decent chance at being a big leaguer in some capacity. But it’s his power that will determine whether he becomes a star.
Last Week: .063/.167/.063 (.229 OPS), 2 BB, 4 K, 19 PA
(Low-A Yankees): .281/.342/.391 (.733 OPS), 77 H, 20 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 9 SB, 8.2 BB%, 18.1 K%, .341 BABIP, 304 PA
(Low-A White Sox): .234/.305/.280 (.585 OPS), 25 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 9.2 BB%, 13.4 K%, .275 BABIP, 119 PA
7. Alec Hansen, RHP (Double-A Birmingham)
In a somewhat surprising development, Hansen got the nod to toe the rubber for the Barons. At the very least it’s an indicator that the White Sox plan on him starting next season at Double-A. It came on the heels of a five-walk start for Hansen, who was out to show that his lack of control was merely an aberration. He was a little wild (3 BB) but certainly got the job done over five innings of three run ball. Hansen dotted his early innings with strikeouts to limit any damage from a few singles and a walk. His first extra-base hit came in the fourth, but he got a ground ball to get out of the inning. A 1-2-3 fifth with a pair of strikeouts pushed his total to eight and he would fail to notch another. His sixth inning was promising in that he showed the ability to rebound. Four consecutive batters got on base to start the frame, via two singles and two walks, and a double cleared the table to saddle him with three earned runs. But a trio of ground outs got him out of the inning, which was a promising display of him finding his footing at a new level. All told, three runs over five innings with eight strikeouts to three walks isn’t a poor debut by any stretch.
In just 18 months, Alec Hansen has gone from a collegiate athlete with little semblance of control to one of the better pro pitchers in the minors, rocketing up to Double-A. Hansen was hot from the start, with a 2.48 ERA over 13 starts in Kannapolis. That included arguably the best start of any White Sox pitcher in the system this season, with a 15 strikeout and no walk effort over seven innings against Greensboro. He parlayed that start into a promotion to High-A where he continued to miss bats and was equally effective (2.93 ERA over 11 GS). Hansen found his groove with his change up as the season dragged on, which gave him four legitimate pitches to work with. His stuff combined with the downhill plane generated by his height and release enabled him to post a 12.0 K/9 across three levels, becoming one of the most prolific strikeout artists in the minors. But it all boils down to control for Hansen, who was able to limit the free passes and sustain strong peripherals because of it. Hansen should pop up on some Top 100 lists this offseason and currently has the look of the steal of the 2016 draft.
Last Week: 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 8 K, 3 BB, 1 GS, 5.0 IP
(Low-A): 7-3, 2.48 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 11.39 K/9, 2.85 BB/9, 0.37 HR/9, 13 GS, 72.2 IP
(High-A): 4-5, 2.93 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 12.65 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9, 11 GS, 58.1 IP
(Double-A): 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 8 K, 3 BB, 1 GS, 5.0 IP
8. Zack Collins, C (Double-A Birmingham)
Collins stayed hot this week, collecting four hits over four games, with two of them going for extra-bases, and striking out just once. He hit his 19th home run of the season, which puts him ever so close to the 20-HR threshold, an impressive feat for a catcher.
Collins has done well to change the narrative on his 2017 season, which at one point was underwhelming or at least polarizing in the offense department. He started slow in April but surged with a .911 OPS in May and looked like he was going to continue to crush lower level competition. That wasn’t the case as he cratered to a .616 OPS over June and only picked it up slightly in July. Most of the concerns surrounded his hit tool, as his hitch was causing significant swing-and-miss. Not only that, but Collins was getting too pull happy because of it, losing his patented ability to drive the ball to all fields. As such, his average nosedived which drove down his overall line. In August, Collins stopped trying to refine his swing as he had been doing mid-season and went back to square one. The muscle memory mechanics must have worked as he slashed an absurd .311/.488/.623 (1.111 OPS) in August. That gave a jolt to his overall numbers, and his season OPS hovers around .820. His .377 OBP is even more promising and he sports an 18.6 percent walk rate across two levels. The fact that Collins never lost his eye is encouraging and the power played all season as well (.220 ISO). While questions arose regarding the hit tool, questions were answered on defense where Collins has been playable behind the dish. A decreased pop time has enabled him to throw out 39 percent of 119 would-be base stealers. That significant development in an area of previous deficiency has propped up his profile more than the hit tool has deflated it. After hitting well in ten games at Double-A, Collins will likely start next season there. He has the looks of the high OBP, power potent catcher the White Sox thought they were getting on draft day.
Last Week: 2-for-10, HR, 2B, 2 BB, 1 K, 12 PA
White Sox High-A: .223/.365/.443 (.808 OPS), 76 H, 18 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 48 RBI, 0 SB, 17.8 BB%, 27.7 K%, .282 BABIP, 426 PA
White Sox Double-A: .269/.472/.536 (1.011 OPS), 7 H, 1 2B,0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB, 27.8 BB%, 19.4 K%, .294 BABIP, 36 PA
9. Dylan Cease, RHP (Low-A Kannapolis)
Cease had two starts this week, with him finally seeing some positive regression in the first outing. He made his finest appearance since his trade to the White Sox, shutting down the BlueClaws through six innings while surrendering just two runs on four hits. Only one of those hits went for extra-bases and Cease’s stuff played up to the point of ten strikeouts, his second double-digit total of the season. Last night’s outing wasn’t as flashy in the K-totals, but equally effective. Cease gave up a couple singles before getting a DP to close out the first and proceeded to retire twelve of the next thirteen hitters. A couple singles to open the sixth followed by an error and sac fly did him in scoring wise, but he still pitched well enough to notch a quality start.
Dylan Cease came along with Eloy Jimenez in the lauded Jose Quintana trade. He features a dynamic fastball/curveball punch, but currently rates fringe in his control. He had a 4.53 BB/9 in twelve starts with the Cubs High-A affiliate and has trimmed it only slightly in nine starts with Kannapolis (4.29 BB/9). Cease’s stuff certainly plays at the lower levels as he’s missed plenty of bats all year (12.7 K/9), which hints at the aforementioned front line ceiling. Missing bats and getting ground balls (45% GB-rate) is usually a recipe for success, but Cease has also been snake-bitten by some bad luck. This has especially been true since his trade to the White Sox organization in which Jose Quintana evidently left his run support behind. Cease is 0-8 in nine starts with Kannapolis, and has been supported with just 1.11 runs a game. Take notice of his 60 percent strand rate and .357 BABIP and it’s no wonder his 2.66 FIP with Kanny is well below his 3.89 ERA. Cease has actually been hard to square up all year as the opposition is slashing just .223/.320/.306 (.625 OPS) against him and his HR/9 sits at just 0.25. So while the surface stats may look mediocre, he has been one of the best arms since joining the system. Cease and desist on any concern.
Last Week: 0-2, 2.25 ERA, 13 K, 2 BB, 2 GS, 12.0 IP
(Low-A Cubs): 1-2, 2.79 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 12.89 K/9, 4.53 BB/9, 0.35 HR/9, 13 GS, 51.2 IP
(Low-A White Sox): 0-8, 3.89 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 12.36 K/9, 4.29 BB/9, 0.25 HR/9, 8 GS, 35.2 IP
10. Dane Dunning, RHP (High-A Winston-Salem)
After two clunky starts, Dunning rebounded in dominant fashion against Carolina. He turned in his thirteenth quality start of the season and held the Mudcats to two runs on two hits over six innings. The two runs came on none other than a Lucas Erceg home run (he’s had Dunning’s number all season) but outside of that Dunning showed poise, particularly in getting a double play ball to escape a jam in the fourth. The key takeaway was a ten strikeout to two walk output, which was his best ratio since a start in late July.
Dunning came out of the gate as the hottest prospect in the entire system, posting a 0.35 ERA over four brief starts with Low-A Kannapolis. Clearly too advanced for the level, he was shipped off to High-A where he wasn’t as dominant but pitched respectfully. He peaked when he posted a 1.47 ERA over five starts in June. His season tailed off after that, and he’s compiled a 4.86 ERA over his last ten starts. The opposition carries a .362 BABIP during that span, so there’s some inflation here as his peripherals have been quite strong. With three potentially above average pitches, solid control, and a low-maintenance delivery, Dunning has all the ingredients to be a big league starter. In fact, he’s one of the lower risk arms in the system. He gives up a tad too many home runs (1.22 HR/9) but all the other metrics have been strong. A 10.4 K/9 on the season teases a higher ceiling, one Chicago likely saw when they targeted him both in the 2016 draft and then when they eventually snagged him from Washington in the Eaton deal. Topping out at High-A, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him join the Barons next year. The thing to watch going forward is stamina, as the 35 pro innings he threw in 2016 paled in comparison to the 137 he tossed this season. For his first season in pro ball, Dunning certainly impressed.
Last Week: 0-1, 3.00 ERA, 10 K, 2 BB, 1 GS, 6.0 IP
Low-A: 2-0, 0.35 ERA, 1.41 FIP, 11.42 K/9, 0.69 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, 4 GS, 26.0 IP
High-A: 5-8, 3.73 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 10.22 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 1.22 HR/9, 21 GS, 111.0 IP
11. Jake Burger, 3B (High-A Winston-Salem)
How do you follow up a cycle? Well, you don’t ever really follow up that billing but Burger did his best to turn in another solid week. He collected five hits over four games, including launching his fifth home run of the season.
Taken with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Burger sizzled in his first taste of pro ball. He posted a .994 OPS over his first 23 games and looked every bit the masher the White Sox thought they were selecting out of Missouri State. He scuffled as the calendar turned to August and the power numbers weren’t nearly as robust, but his recent resurgence has pushed his season OPS to slightly over .800. That’s not bad even for someone who is playing at an age-appropriate level. For all that was opined about the arm bar in Burger’s swing and potential problems with pro pitching, his 12.6 percent strikeout rate in A-ball has been a notable positive. It’s possible as he accelerates up the system, this red flag may flare up but he’s shown thus far that his bat can play outside of college and beyond an aluminum bat.
Last Week: .313/.353/.500 (.853 OPS), HR, 1 BB, 4 K, 17 PA
Season Line: .295/.355/.446 (.802 OPS), 51 H, 10 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB, 6.6 BB%, 12.6 K%, .321 BABIP, 183 PA
12. Spencer Adams, RHP (Double-A Birmingham)
It was another rough outing for Adams, who gave up four runs on nine hits against the Jumbo Shrimp. His control was off, especially for him, with three walks and he gave up a trio of doubles as well. It’s the final note on a particularly poor August, in which Adams struggled to a 5.40 ERA.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Spencer Adams, who in the early going had looked more like the 2nd rounder the White Sox got in the 2014 draft. After regaining some velocity with his fastball, Adams was leveraging better stuff with his pinpoint control into a 2.93 ERA over five April starts. But instead of continuing to convert on some of his draft day projection, Adams started to get pummeled. The control had been exceptional and still is strong at a 2.22 BB/9 but maybe living in the zone too much without overly credible stuff had its drawbacks. Opponents have slashed .280/.338/.470 over the last three months and his ERA tumbled to 4.38. Since his hot April, he’s posted a 4.75 ERA and given up 17 long balls. Home runs had previously not been a big problem for Adams, but his HR/9 is at 1.08. If anything, he’s been durable by delivering his second consecutive 150+ inning season. It’s possible that Adams has been bit by some bad luck with home runs as his xFIP is a much more playable 3.39 but he’s looking a lot more like a back end innings eater than the dependable mid-rotation arm he teased in April. That makes him still a valuable prospect, and given his age versus level there is no rush to get him up the ladder just yet.
Last Week: 0-1, 6.00 ERA, 5 K, 3 BB, 1 GS, 6.0 IP
Season Line: 7-15, 4.38 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 6.72 K/9, 2.22 BB/9, 1.08 HR/9, 25 GS, 150.0 IP
13. Casey Gillapsie, 1B (Triple-A Charlotte)
Gillaspie had six hits this week, with the power on display as three went for doubles and one left the park. That was enough to give him a nice OPS for the week even as his hit tool remains spotty.
No one wants more of a mulligan on 2017 than Gillaspie who looked MLB ready after a .307/.389/.520 showing with the Rays at Triple-A last season. Once the number three prospect in Tampa’s organization and a regular on top 100 lists, Gillapsie was dealt to the White Sox in July in a trade for Dan Jennings. It was a pure buy-low play for Rick Hahn, who is probably confounded at his numbers this season despite similarities across multiple metrics. He’s still walking at a decent clip with Charlotte (11.8%), not striking out an exorbitant amount of times (17.6%), and the power remains (.191 ISO) but the hit tool has sapped his overall line. Gillapsie hasn’t been making consistently strong contact with a long swing and .213 BABIP. It’s caused many scouts to head for the life rafts off the boat as a questionable hit tool paired with a fringe 1B profile can provide a sinking feeling. How much you buy Gillapsie really depends on if you think the low BABIP is poor luck, mechanically driven, or somewhere in between. That estimation drives the hit tool, which ultimately drives the profile. It’s not out of bounds to think Gillapsie could see some time at first base and DH on the 2018 White Sox where it’ll be sink or swim time.
Last Week: .222/.300/.571 (.871 OPS), 6 H, 3 2B, HR, 3 BB, 5 K, 30 PA
(Triple-A Rays): .227/.296/.357 (.653 OPS), 80 H, 15 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB, 9.1 BB%, 19.5 K%, .261 BABIP, 395 PA
(Triple-A White Sox): .213/.304/.404 (.708 OPS), 19 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, 11.8 BB%, 17.6 K%, .221 BABIP, 102 PA
14. Jordan Stephens, RHP (Double-A Birmingham)
Stephens received the loss against Tennessee despite posting a quality start. He gave up three runs on three hits, with the scoring coming on a three run home run in the sixth. Up until that point, Tennessee had done little against Stephens, who struck out a season high seven batters and allowed just one free pass. It was the ninth time he went six innings or more over his fifteen starts with the Barons.
Stephens started the year on the DL and has an involved injury history as someone who has already gone through Tommy John Surgery. Yet, the 24-year-old held his own at Double-A Birmingham in which he posted a 2.79 ERA over 15 starts. There’s a bit of regression that never came here as he had a 75.2 percent strand rate and a .293 BABIP against. But his .665 OPS points to not a lot of hard contact against the righty, so his season was fairly legit. Although, his true talent is probably somewhere in between his ERA and 3.41 FIP. What stood out for Stephens this year was consistency as he averaged about five strikeouts an outing and kept the walks to a minimum, save for a few outliers. This isn’t exactly the profile of an ace or even a middle of the rotation arm, but Stephens could certainly pitch his way into a fourth starter spot. Taking in consideration his age and the opportunities that come with a rebuild, he may be primed for a shot sooner than later.
Last Week: 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 GS, 6.0 IP
Season Line: 3-6, 2.79 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 7.55 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 0.41 HR/9, 15 GS, 87.0 IP
15. Gavin Sheets, 1B
Sheets had himself a week with eight hits over five games. He only struck out once while hitting two doubles and producing five RBIs for Kannapolis.
Chicago’s second rounder in 2017, Sheets brought with him an enticing combo of power and a good eye. Like Burger, he started off exceptionally hot at Low-A Kannapolis with a .874 OPS in July. He’s cooled off since then but continued to display a solid approach at the plate with his eye carrying over from Wake Forest. Sheets has 23 walks to 34 strikeouts and a .368 OBP. The one knock is that Sheets hasn’t showcased the power you’d expect for a college player thrust into low-A but it is after all just his first taste of pro ball. He’s regulated to first base defensively, so needless to say the power will have to come in droves for him to stick.
Last Week: .400/.429/.500 (.929 OPS), 8 H, 2 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, 21 PA
Season Line: .263/.348/.369 (. OPS), 47 H, 12 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB, 9.8 BB%, 16.6 K%, .308 BABIP, 222 PA
BONUS PLAYER: Justin Yurchak, 3B (unranked)
Yurchak is a guy a number of our writers lobbied to include at the back end of our most recent FS30, but he fell short in a numbers game. He’s been doing his best to show we might have been wrong, putting up some cartoonish numbers for the Voyagers. On the week (not including last night’s not yet official numbers), he hit a hilarious .652/.679/1.261 (that, kiddies, is a 1.939 OPS) while striking out just once. The week before he didn’t strike out at all. On the season in his pro debut, the 20-year-old 12th rounder has posted a .358/.463/.542 line with seven long balls and striking out in only about 11% of his 228 plate appearances. It’s hard to tell how much of that is Pioneer League inflation, but there are plenty of reasons to believe it might not be an apparition. 2018 will tell us more.
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