2019 Midseason Rankings: TwitterBag Questions

Twitter can be a divisive place but our readers are the best! They were asked to come up with mailbag questions that correspond with rankings week. They didn’t take that opportunity for granted. Below are the questions that we were submitted and our responses to the best of our knowledge. As always, thanks for reading and supporting FutureSox.

It’s inevitable that some of these prospects won’t pan out regardless. Some of it will be from natural attrition and some of it could be due to injuries. Micker Adolfo, Dane Dunning and Luis Basabe are players who could take off and slide right into the top of this list on their way to solid major league futures. The Tommy John epidemic has afflicted the White Sox’s farm recently. It’s not a death sentence any longer but it’s still something to monitor.

That’s a tricky question on Franklin Reyes. Reyes was given a $1.5 million bonus and came with some pedigree as the brother of Franmil. He was nursing a back injury and hasn’t played in two seasons. There’s no official word on his baseball future but reports are definitely ominous. Josue Guerrero has significant raw power but hasn’t shown the hit tool capable of using it in games to this point. Enoy Jimenez is more of a favor to the Jimenez family than anything and Elijah Tatis is an actual prospect. I would bet against any of them ever becoming a top 10 prospect for the White Sox, however.

Spencer Adams is out for the season with a back injury from what we understand. Jake Burger is the international man of mystery at the moment. Rick Hahn discussed his setback and stated that he’d be a member of the Instructional League roster in the fall. Relying on Burger to get back to full strength at this juncture isn’t recommended though. We don’t have updates on Ian Hamilton or Dane Dunning but no news isn’t a bad thing at this point.

This is an interesting discussion. Blake Rutherford is probably the least likely due to a high probability of repeating at Double-A Birmingham. Luis Gonzalez could be an option if he has a better start to his 2020 campaign as well. Joel Booker got a taste of the International League in 2019 and struggled some. The best guess here would be Gonzalez. He has more upside than Booker and 40-man spots will be tough to come by in 2020.

This is a big question for Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams and the rest of the decision makers at 35th and Shields. It’s easy to point to the top 5 prospects in the system (Robert, Vaughn, Madrigal, Kopech and Cease) as a part of the next legitimately good White Sox’s club. It’s unlikely that any of those guys get traded. There’s a glaring hole in right field in Chicago currently. Luis Alexander Basabe and Micker Adolfo are the best internal candidates to fill the spot. The most tradeable prospects at this juncture seem to be: Steele Walker, Blake Rutherford, Gavin Sheets and Jonathan Stiever. It would benefit the Sox to use their outfield surplus to nab something useful. This is something to monitor over the next 12-18 months.

This is a tough one and it’s a bit sobering as well. I would say that the system would likely fall into the 20-25 range. Andrew Vaughn is a top 25 prospect in the sport and that matters. They will have another top 10 pick to add to the system as well. Dane Dunning will be returning. We think that Jonathan Stiever, Steele Walker, Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist are all ascending talents with top 100 potential. This depends on growth of super young talent at the bottom of the system and recovery from injuries. Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Jake Burger, Zack Burdi, etc. should hopefully be healthy. It’s an important distinction as well that the organization could drop in prospect rankings but take a significant step forward at the major league level due to that potential drop.

While this wasn’t necessarily a question, there was much consternation over Gavin Sheets and we felt like this was an opportune time to discuss it. Sheets has been impressive this year. The 2nd round selection looked to be a questionable one with Sheets headed down the path of a first baseman without much game power. Due to some approach and mechanical changes however, that has swung the opposite direction this year. After some initial struggles, Sheets has posted a 123 wRC+ with a .361 wOBA on the season. He’s been even better than that over the past two months. Gavin has hit 14 homers playing his home games in the cavernous park in Birmingham and his walk rate is at 10% with a strikeout rate under 20%. The International League environment should be much more kind to him and he could move quickly at this point.

Micker Adolfo is a very solid guess at this point. It seems likely that LHP Bernardo Flores would take part as well after missing a chunk of the season. The White Sox usually use the Arizona Fall League to get some work for guys that have missed time with injuries so Luis Alexander Basabe could be a possibility as well. They also use it to get a look at guys that need protection from the Rule 5 draft in December. Pitchers like Kodi Medeiros and Ian Hamilton could be possibilities as well as RHP Tyler Johnson.

It would be more likely that the White Sox go the route of adding veterans or younger controlled players at the position if Collins or Zavala ends up not being a long-term answer. Carlos Perez is a 22-year-old at Winston-Salem that is a solid defender, but he just hasn’t provided enough offense. Victor Torres and Jefferson Mendoza are the two catchers in the system with the most upside but they are playing in Arizona and the Dominican respectively on rookie ball clubs.

Bilous is an interesting guy that probably should have been included on our just missed list this period. He was a 13th round pick out of Coastal Carolina in 2018 and was a top 200 draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old has been starting in Low-A with the Kannapolis Intimidators and has figured some things out lately. He’s averaging 9.72 K/9 but walking almost 5 over the same period. He’s posted a 3.02 ERA on the year after struggling in rookie ball in 2018. Bilous reminds me some of Nate Jones and even a little bit of Ian Hamilton. He started at Coastal Carolina and is starting in the minors. This is the high leverage reliever toolkit though. He needs to command better, but he was hitting 99 mph with his fastball and showed a power slider in the Cape Cod League in shorter stints. The White Sox typically take this approach with potential relievers in the low minors. I’m not sure Bilous is a starting pitcher long-term but he’s definitely a guy to watch.

Nick Madrigal likely finishes the season with Triple-A Charlotte. It’s possible that we will see Luis Robert in Chicago though. Neither player is on the 40-man roster and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the organization goes the Eloy Jimenez route with either guy. Robert was pushed along to the International League at rapid pace though which could be a clue as to what they’re thinking. Service time arguments aside, it could benefit these guys to get a taste of the major leagues early after watching the early struggles of other White Sox prospects of recent vintage.

This wasn’t a question, but it’s become somewhat of a rallying cry around a portion of White Sox twitter. Despite clamoring from the fans and the anticipatory eyes of some members of section 108, it’s pretty unlikely that Yermin Mercedes will get an opportunity in Chicago. Mercedes has posted a 135 wRC+ with a staggering ISO% and 10 dingers in Charlotte so far. Dingers are fun, but defense also matters. Yermin is listed as a catcher but he can’t play the position even with average ability in the majors. The 26-year-old might have earned the right to get some plate appearances as a DH in Chicago, but adding him to the 40-man to do that job seems extremely unlikely at this point.

Benyamin Bailey and Jefferson Mendoza have both earned the right to come stateside and finish at an affiliate. The 6’4″ 215-pound Bailey has posted a 178 wRC+ as a 17-year-old in the DSL. The Panamanian has displayed a tremendous eye with a .500 OBP in 48 games. Mendoza is an 18-year-old catcher from Venezuela. He’s been touted for his defensive skills  but has also posted a 179 wRC+ with 3 homers on the season. It might be unlikely that they come to Arizona this year though due to the roster composition in rookie ball. At catcher, Victor Torres and Gabriel Ortiz are recent teenage picks out of Puerto Rico currently occupying space on the AZL roster. Jakob Goldfarb and Daniel Millwee are 2019 college picks also on the roster. There may not be enough playing time for Mendoza in Arizona. Bailey would likely run into the same issue. James Beard, Logan Glass, Misael Gonzalez and Chase Krogman are all 2019 prep selections currently residing in Glendale. Josue Guerrero and Anthony Coronado get playing time as well in addition to current rehab stints for Micker Adolfo and Bryce Bush. Both players are deserving of promotions but likely finish in the DSL.

Many of the college players from the 2016 draft class are eligible for December’s Rule 5 Draft. Seven names come to mind. Dane Dunning, Jimmy Lambert, Bernardo Flores, Zack Burdi and Alec Hansen are all eligible on the pitching side. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the White Sox protect them all. Zack Burdi and Jimmy Lambert would have a high likelihood of getting selected. Danny Mendick and Blake Rutherford need protection on the position player side. The Sox chose not to protect Mendick last year and repeating that decision shouldn’t be a surprise this time around. Clearing spots on the 40-man roster shouldn’t be an issue to accommodate players this offseason.

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