FutureSox MailBox, Spring Training 2018 edition

Welcome to the Spring Training edition of the FutureSox MailBox, where we answer reader questions about White Sox prospects. In this case we took questions from both Twitter and the White Sox Reddit. Let’s get right to your queries…

Besides Jimenez and Kopech do you see any other top prospect being called up this year?
-Daniel Horning (@dhorning91)

Most of the top ten prospects in the system, beyond those you listed, are more on the 2019 or 2020 track than 2018. Carson Fulmer (who we have ranked 13th in the system but whose future is looking a little shaky) will almost assuredly spend time in Chicago in 2018, possibly even on the Opening Day roster. But if you are talking about those who have not been with the Sox in the majors yet, keep an eye on right-handers Spencer Adams (11th in system), Jordan Stephens (15th) and Thyago Vieira (17th), all of whom will open in AAA and all have some chance of seeing the majors (especially Vieira). Among position players, first baseman Casey Gillaspie (18th) has a real shot to be seen in Chicago in 2018, and of course outfielder Ryan Cordell (20th) has been impressing in spring training and should get some major league reps this year.

Which outfield prospect, and infield prospect, is an “under the radar” type at this point that will make a minor impact this season?
-Rott n Kenth (@kenthrott)

We already covered Cordell and Gillaspie, both of whom will likely make some impact. Cordell could be very soon or even Opening Day, whereas Gillaspie likely needs to show the goods in Charlotte for a bit first. Digging deeper for “under the radar” types, don’t lose track of Daniel Palka among the OF/1B/3B types that are all battling for active roster spots. He’s got plus raw power, has reduced his strikeout rate to a good number for a power hitter, and can play corner outfield and first base. It’s just a question of what happens above him, and whether or not his 2017 fall-back in power output was aberrant or a real issue.

What do you see from Luis Curbelo this year? I’ve seen his name floated around some, but don’t know too much about him.
-SuburbanViperStreet Reddit

We’ve seen a number of social media posts referring to Curbelo as being forgotten, but for those tracking the system he’s anything but. A combination of the rebuild refueling of the system with elite prospects and Luis missing nearly all of the 2017 season to knee surgery pushed him out of the spotlight a bit, but he’s the 24th-ranked prospect in the system for good reasons. Still just 20 years old for all of the 2018 campaign, Curbelo brings substantial raw power combined with soft hands and plenty of arm for the left side of the infield. The injury should not have lasting effects, and there is no rush here. The prep draft pick should see Kannapolis at some point in 2018 if things progress well, but he likely opens in Extended ST and probably spends time back in Great Falls before going up to full season ball.

Which prospect NRI’s have improved their stock the most this spring?
-Gucas Liogito (@GucasLiogito)

Biggest pleasant surprises from spring training? Maybe Jordan Stephens, Basabe, Engel, Clark?
-Matt Cav (@BeyondPinnacle)

Let’s group these two questions together. Stephens, Luis Alexander Basabe, Adam Engel and Brian Clark have all shown well and helped their various cases, though for Basabe, the spring is more developmental and he is in no way in the picture for a major league job this year. Uber prospects Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and (pre-injury) Luis Robert as NRI’s certainly have made their dents, though they were already practically household names. We already discussed Cordell’s strong showing. One more we should cover is Dylan Cease, who has looked downright filthy in his looks so far in Cactus League play.

It is worth noting of course that how these players do statistically in spring training has only a very small bearing on prospect “stock”.

Who could take advantage of the injuries to Burger, Robert and Adolfo?
-Gucas Liogito (@GucasLiogito)

This is a good topic. With all the prospect injuries in camp, while that’s never good news, there can sometimes be a silver lining as other players get some better opportunities in the meantime. Jake Burger was slated to open as the third baseman at Winston-Salem, and now that role likely goes to Zach Remillard (though Brady Conlan could also be in the discussion). Luis Robert‘s absence means the A-ball outfield logjam lifts a little bit, which ultimately means a guy like Alex Destino or Craig Dedelow that may have been crowded out, now get full time play in Kannapolis. In Micker Adolfo‘s case, the main plan is still to have him DH at Winston-Salem which was going to be part of a 4-man outfield rotation anyway, so there is no material impact (unless he has to have surgery before the season is out).

Any update on the injury of Alec Hansen? As well as the progress Rodon and Burdi are making in their rehabs.
-David Horning (@DavidRHorning)

For Hansen and Carlos Rodon, we have the same information our readers likely do, coming from the media at large. Hansen has a sore forearm, hasn’t started pitching again yet, and the team is being cautious. Rodon is progressing with a target of May-ish for getting back into games at last word.

For Zack Burdi, he’s in camp and was spotted by our Julie Brady on the back fields a couple days ago warming up with other minor league pitchers. He’s said to be approaching long-toss territory, but no confirmation of that yet. The target for Burdi is to return to pitching around May as well.

When will LuBob be back?
-Phil Goyette (@PhilOfSports)

At last word from the Sox, the target is to rehab in Extended Spring Training starting around early May, hopefully with a full-season team assignment a few weeks after.

What’s Corey Zangari up to?
-Zach Salomon (@bald4everr)

Zangari has recovered from Tommy John surgery that kept him out for all of the 2017 season. He’s in minor league camp and playing in games, and probably opens this year as Kannapolis’ starting first baseman.

Any news on where Alex Call, Danny Mendick, and Brett Austin will be possibly starting the season at?
-Tiffany Wintz (@TiffW96)

Nothing set in stone for any of them. Call most likely opens with the Dash and Mendick should return as the Barons’ shortstop – those are pretty safe bets. Austin is a little tougher, as he’s mixed in with a number of other backup catchers around the mid-minors (including Yermin Mercedes, Casey Schroeder, Daniel Gonzalez and Chris O’Dowd) and not all of them will have jobs come April. It’s hard to say who emerges from that crowd and where they would be assigned.

I live near Great Falls and usually try to catch a game every summer. What are some prospects to watch that may start there? Or is it too early to say?
-DudeNice24, Reddit

The rookie league rosters are very hard to predict at this point, because it will be half-filled with 2018 draft picks and because that season doesn’t start until late June. But there are some players who were either LatAm teenage signings or prep draft picks who played in the AZL last year that are likely to be in Montana this season. Those include infielders Luis Curbelo, Amado Nunez and Lenyn Sosa, who are all substantial prospects (though Curbelo might go to Kannapolis before the Voyagers open). Catcher Michael Hickman is someone worth keeping an eye on, and he probably belongs in Great Falls in June. Beyond that, any guesses I make here would be akin to pulling names out of a hat.

So is Eddy Alvarez ever going to be something or will he end up just being the guy who was a speed skater who played minor league baseball?
-“bigben929” Reddit

Fast Eddy moved up the ladder quickly at first, but hit a bit of a wall offensively in the upper levels. On the positive side, he’s still got plus speed, shows above average athleticism in improving defense up the middle, puts bat to ball effectively and still gets on base at a good clip even with a low average thanks to a mature batter’s eye. The bad news is he’s 28, displays little to no game power, is still inconsistent defensively and hasn’t shown a strong hit tool against advanced pitching. His Olympic pedigree and experience could make the difference here and he should not be completely dismissed. But realistically he’s now a long shot to reach a major league utility role for anything more than a novelty cup of coffee.

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