MLBPipeline released their Top 100 prospect list Saturday evening on MLB Network. In total, seven Chicago White Sox prospects earned the honor:
4) Eloy Jimenez
10) Michael Kopech
28) Luis Robert
54) Alec Hansen
61) Dylan Cease
92) Dane Dunning
99) Blake Rutherford
Overall, the White Sox only trailed the Atlanta Braves in the total number of prospects in the Top 100 (Braves 8, White Sox 7). These ranking come after Baseball America had five White Sox prospects for their Top 100, and Keith Law from ESPN had four. With three of the major publications releasing their Top 100 this week, Patrick Nolan and I analyzed the lists to share our thoughts about the quality of the Sox farm system heading into 2018.
What was your first impression seeing the Top 100 lists?
Pnoles: I wasn’t all that surprised by the rankings of the White Sox players. We figured we’d see Eloy Jimenez in the Top 5 and Michael Kopech in the Top 15. Hansen and Robert were no-doubters to make the lists and would likely be more toward the middle. It also made sense that there was no sign of Zack Collins, Dylan Cease, and Blake Rutherford some of the lists, all of whom have enough doubt about their future to keep them out of the Top 100. It was also nice to see Baseball America reward Dane Dunning’s strong season with a spot on their list.
Josh: After setting up the Prospect Database for this year (check it out here: https://docs.google.com/
Out of all the White Sox prospects, which one are you most excited for in 2018?
Pnoles: I’m most excited for Eloy Jimenez because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a bat this dynamic come out of the system and there’s a very high chance he’ll be making his major league debut this year. However, he’s ranked the highest, so that makes this something of a boring answer. If I had to pick a player from off the Top-100 radar, I think I’d go with Micker Adolfo. We’ve been following him for what feels like forever (particularly during years when it was a depressing slog to follow the White Sox farm system) and he started to show encouraging signs of translating his raw power to games last season.
Josh: I really like the Micker Adolfo pick because it a big group of outfielders from A to AA ball I think he can rise above them all. Yes, even Blake Rutherford.
My pick is Luis Robert. It’s been a fun nine months following his journey from the next Cuban phenom to taking cuts at the White Sox hitting camp. Soon, we’ll start seeing perform in games and watch how he handles playing in the States. For those that like to travel, it would be worth making a trek to Winston-Salem this year.
Who needs to improve the most in 2018 for you to have confidence they could one day contribute in the majors?
Pnoles: As much as I want to say Blake Rutherford for this answer, for me it’s Jake Burger. They both had their struggles in the Sally League, but Burger’s a full year older and with much less defensive versatility. Burger made a lot of contact last season, but the biggest issue is his batted ball profile. Barring a dramatic improvement to his defensive outlook, he’s going to have to hit for some serious power to contribute in the major leagues, which will involve hitting the ball in the air with authority a lot more often. Contact is nice, but Burger hit half of his batted balls on the ground last season (which is especially bad when you can’t run) and hit a whopping 13 infield pop-ups (which are just extra strikeouts) in just 200 plate appearances. To his credit, Burger has reportedly spent the offseason trying to add loft to his swing. That’s a change he’ll need to make to get anyone excited enough about his bat to justify the “where will he play” debates.
Josh: If you’re going with the 2017 first round pick, I’ll go with the 2016 first round pick in Zack Collins. He’ll be in AA this year which seems to be the toughest test for White Sox hitters. We’ve heard from Arizona that Collins is making a swing adjustment that will hopefully help him get more balls in play. Also need to see if his defensive progressions from last year, primarily throwing out base stealers, translate to a new level. While Collins has to worry about himself making changes, behind him is Seby Zavala who had a great 2017 hitting the ball. Both are question marks on defense, but if Collins struggles to make contact again while Zavala is hitting .300-plus and posting similar power numbers the White Sox may have a new number one catching prospect in their system.
Who would be on your Top 10 White Sox prospect list?
Pnoles: My Top 10 would be:
Who outside of your Top 10 do you think is primed to make a leap in 2018?
Pnoles: I think Ian Hamilton is a strong possibility. He’s probably not one of the 20 best prospects in the system, but if he has a breakout campaign at Birmingham (where he’s still young for the level), we could see him in Chicago before the year is out. His added velocity and newly-sharp breaking ball make him a dark horse candidate to collect some saves in Chicago before the year is through.
Josh: I’m not giving up on Spencer Adams. After he heals from his finger injury, I look forward to how he handles AAA and wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a few spot starts for the White Sox in 2018.
Users who have LIKED this post: