Top White Sox prospects ranked 16-30, midseason 2019

Twice a year, FutureSox writers work together to produce a ranked list of the top 30 White Sox prospects. We use a voting system among the staff, then argue out specific players and rankings until we come to a final list.

We release the list in two parts. First is the group ranked 16-30. The full list of top 30 prospects is released the next day. We already released a group of prospects that missed our top 30.

ELIGIBILITY: We consider any player in the White Sox organization who has not yet achieved MLB rookie status.

THE LIST (prospects ranked 16-30)

30. Jose Rodriguez, SS (New)

  • Signed from Dominican Republic in 2018

Rodriguez has been one of a few breakout prospects in the Arizona League this summer, but got no fanfare when he signed in Feb. of 2018. The 18-year-old put up decent, but unspectacular numbers in the Dominican Summer League last year (.291/.318/.401). This season he moved to the AZL and has shown off much improved power. Through Aug. 4 he was slugging .534 (.236 ISO) for a .867 OPS. Rodriguez is showing that power without striking out at an alarming rate (see Gladney below), which is a good sign as he moves up the levels. His 23.7% strikeout rate is high, but not for an 18-year-old hitting for power. He doesn’t walk much, but he is young enough to continue developing as a hitter. If he can stay at a middle infield while showing some pop, the White Sox may have found a sleeper prospect.

29. DJ Gladney, 3B (New; 2019 draft)

  • Drafted 16th Round in 2019

Gladney was an overslot signing in the 16th round of this year’s draft ($225,000) and has shown to be a bit of a steal so far. That was seventh round money for a high school prospect with premium power potential. He was a local high school product from suburban Illiana Christian and part of the White Sox ACE program. The White Sox must have seen something that others didn’t because Gladney has been impressive in rookie ball. He has eight home runs in 40 games in the AZL (.289/.328/.497). The downside is he isn’t walking much and has a 36.2% strikeout rate. His approach is unsurprisingly raw, but seeing in-game power as an 18-year-old is encouraging.

28. Lenyn Sosa, SS (Previous: 26, -2)

  • Signed from Venezuela in 2016

Sosa showed a competent bat with some promise at a premium position in rookie ball last year. He hit .293/.317/.406 with Great Falls as an 18-year-old. Things haven’t gone as smoothly in Kannapolis (this is a trend this year). Sosa posted a .456 OPS in April, but has shown improvement since then. Sosa is hitting .239/.281/.355. He has shown doubles power that could develop into more and has a good glove at short. Outside of that it’s still mostly projection with the 19-year-old.

27. Bryce Bush, OF (Previous: 21, -6)

  • Drafted 33rd Round in 2018

Bush was D.J. Gladney a year ago. He got White Sox fans excited by bursting onto the scene in rookie ball after signing overslot out of high school as a late round pick in the draft. His full season assignment to Kannapolis hasn’t gone well, but it also hasn’t been a total flop. Bush struggled in April with a .619 OPS, but bounced back with a .788 OPS in May. He has slumped since then and dealt with injury. His overall line of .201/.285/.346 isn’t good, but isn’t shocking for a 19-year-old in A ball. One concern on his value is that he has moved from third base to a corner outfield spot.

26. Ian Hamilton, RH RP (Previous: 17, -9)

  • Drafted 11th Round in 2016

Hamilton has had terrible luck this year. A car crash in spring training left him with shoulder issues. After that, Hamilton was blown up in AAA by opposing hitters to the tune of a 9.92 ERA and 1.898 WHIP. Hamilton’s control was seemingly still there as he recorded 20 strikeouts to compared to only three walks in 16.1 innings pitched. Then he was hit in the face by a line drive foul ball that found the Charlotte dugout. As a result, he needed jaw reconstruction surgery. If he’s able to come back at full strength he comes equipped with a high 90s fastball, that can flirt with 99 mph from time to time, and high 80s slider.

25. Zack Burdi, RH RP (Previous: 13, -12)

  • Drafted 1st round (26th overall) in 2016

Similar to Hamilton, Burdi hasn’t been able to catch a break. His injuries are at least baseball related, but nonetheless have kept him off the mound for much of the past three years. Burdi reached AAA in his draft year, but went down in July of 2017 with Tommy John surgery. He got back to action in rookie ball in Arizona in August and then pitched in the Arizona Fall League. This season he started with Kannapolis in late April for a few outings before heading to Birmingham in May. There, his fastball velocity was mid 90s as opposed to the upper 90s he had in his arsenal pre-injury. He racked up the strikeouts (24 in 19.2 IP), but struggled overall (13 BB, 6.41 ERA). Then, a knee injury ended his season. If Burdi can recapture his premier stuff, he’s a big league closer. He has to stay healthy and show that stuff first.

24. Alec Hansen, RH RP (Previous: 12, -12)

  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2016

Hansen was one of the toughest prospects to place on this list. In 2017 he was outstanding across three levels in his first full season of pro ball. He led the minor leagues in strikeouts (191 in 141 1/3 innings). Last year was a total disaster. The 6-foot-7 right-hander had more walks (59) than strikeouts (55) and innings pitched (51 1/3). The White Sox moved him to the bullpen this season to try to iron out his sudden loss of any command. He started the year in Winston-Salem, where his stuff overpowered the opposition (21 strikeouts, 7 walks, 1 hit allowed in 12 2/3 innings). He moved back to Birmingham and his previous struggles returned. Hansen is still getting plenty of strikeouts (34 in 29 2/3 innings), but he is still walking tons (28) and giving up more hits as well to form a 6.37 ERA. The stuff is still there, but he can’t command it. If he gets some semblance of command, he has big league stuff. Who knows if we ever see that.

23. Jake Burger, 3B (Previous: 14, -9)

  • Drafted 1st Round (11th overall) in 2017

If Hansen is hard to evaluate, Burger might be harder. Two Achilles’ heel tears have kept him out since spring training of 2018. He was on track to return this summer, but a bruised heel kept him out for the rest of the year. Burger may take part in the Arizona Fall League, which would be a tough test for someone who has only 51 games in pro ball under his belt and also hasn’t played since 2017. He’ll be 24 a week into the 2020 season so it’s not going to be an easy road for Burger at this point.

22. James Beard, OF (New; 2019 draft)

  • Drafted 4th Round in 2019

In some ways, Beard was a bit of a throwback in terms of White Sox draft picks. His athletic profile is reminiscent of draft picks like Jared Mitchell and Keenyn Walker. In other ways, he is a rare pick for the White Sox. For starters, high school picks have been rare for the White Sox. Beard was picked in the fourth round and was the third high schooler the Sox drafted this June. His elite speed was regarded as the best in the draft. His bat isn’t anywhere near polished though. For starters, he has struck out in 42.5% of his plate appearances. He’s hit .192/.257/.269. His seven walks isn’t a terribly low number all things considered and he has a couple home runs as well. Beard will require patience, but that speed will keep him on the prospect radar.

21. Bernardo Flores, LH SP (Previous: 23, +2)

  • Drafted 7th Round in 2016

As a 6-foot-4 lefty with a solid track record of performance, Flores got some love in 2018 after posting a sub-3.00 ERA at both Winston-Salem and Birmingham. Flores doesn’t feature a big fastball and isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, but as a left-hander there is more forgiveness for both of those things. In 10 starts this season with the Barons, Flores had a 3.22 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 10 walks in 50.1 innings. An oblique injury derailed his season and he has been working in rehab starts in the lower levels of the minors.  He could profile as a reliever or a No. 4/5 starter.

20. Jimmy Lambert, RH SP (Previous: 22, +2)

  • Drafted 5th Round in 2016

Injuries have affected a number of White Sox prospects this year, but Lambert is one that really hurts. The right-hander had developed into a legit pitching prospect having shown some a spike in his strikeout rate in 2018 before needing Tommy John surgery this year. He features a low 90s fastball as part of a well-rounded four-pitch arsenal. Lambert appeared to have cleared the AA hurdle as well. Until giving up 14 ER in his last three starts of 2019 (which could have been related to his elbow injury), Lambert had totaled 69.2 innings with a 3.10 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 23 walks. With the way things have gone with the White Sox rotation, a healthy Lambert could have had a shot at a debut this summer. Instead, he may not return to the mound until late 2020.

19. Tyler Johnson, RH RP (Previous: 20, +1)

  • Drafted 5th Round in 2017

Johnson was a breakout prospect last year, dominating both levels of A ball with gaudy numbers (89 K, 16 BB in 58 IP). A lat strain cost him the first two and a half months of 2019. He didn’t reach Birmingham for the first time until late July. He has a plus fastball that sits in the mid 90s and a decent slider. If he can improve upon his slider or change, he could be a quality big league reliever. Either way, his fastball should play in the majors.

18. Konnor Pilkington, LH SP (Previous: 24, +6)

  • Drafted 3rd Round in 2018

Fastball velocity has been the big thing with Pilkington since his college days. Entering his junior year at Mississippi State, Pilkington was thought of as a possible first-round pick. Instead, his fastball velocity dipped to the low 90s/high 80s and it hasn’t fully returned since. Still, he has quality breaking pitches with his change up being his best pitch. This season, after dominating in Kannapolis, Pilkington has struggled in Winston-Salem. In 14 starts with the Dash, Pilkington has a 5.73 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 32 walks in 70.2 innings.

17. Yolbert Sanchez, SS (New; international signing)

  • Signed from Cuba in 2019

A teammate of Luis Robert’s in Cuba, Sanchez was the biggest international signing for the White Sox this July. The White Sox were connected with Sanchez for months and it materialized in the form of a $2.5 million signing. The 22-year-old went to the DSL instead of a stateside affiliate, but could be a quick mover starting next year. His glove is advanced enough to play in the majors now. His bat isn’t as far along. Unless Sanchez makes major strides with his bat, he looks like more of a utility player in the majors. That said, his floor is among the highest in the system.

16. Gavin Sheets, 1B (Previous: 18, +2)

  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2017

Going into this season, Sheets had one glaring flaw – he couldn’t translate his raw power into game power. The left-handed first baseman struggled to get the ball over the fence while in Winston-Salem. He did everything else right – hit for average, drew walks and got positive remarks for his glove work. Clearly, he was saving his power explosion for the cavernous dimensions of Birmingham’s Regions Field. Sheets has hit more home runs this season for the Barons (14 as of publication) than he had in his entire White Sox career prior combined (10). Add his new found game power to a consistent walk rate still hovering around 10% and under 20% strikeout rate and Sheets looked primed to be the future Sox first baseman. Now he’ll have to compete for that spot against MLB Pipeline’s #1 first base prospect, Andrew Vaughn.

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