Five takeaways from the first farm system ranking of the offseason
As long as the White Sox are rebuilding, at least we’ll have the farm system rankings to anticipate.
When it comes to outlets, I prefer to size them up year over year to get an idea of how players’ skills have been weighted in the past, and what might have changed. Cross-checking the last two years of BA lists results in this:
|1||Eloy Jimenez||Eloy Jimenez|
|2||Michael Kopech||Michael Kopech|
|3||Alec Hansen||Dylan Cease|
|4||Luis Robert||Nick Madrigal|
|5||Dane Dunning||Luis Robert|
|6||Zack Collins||Micker Adolfo|
|7||Jake Burger||Dane Dunning|
|8||Blake Rutherford||Blake Rutherford|
|9||Gavin Sheets||Luis Gonzalez|
|10||Dylan Cease||Steele Walker|
From just 10 names — or 20 if you’re willing to count twice — five things jumped out at me:
No. 1: A major course correction on Cease.
Baseball America was the lowest on Cease last year, putting him at No. 10 while every other ranking I saw had him in the top five. They had the most bearish outlook on his combination of an upper-echelon repertoire with significant durability issues. One full, healthy and dominant season at High-A and Double-A later, Cease now finishes in the money.
No. 2: What a tumble for Hansen.
Cease usurped Hansen, who tumbled all the way out of the top 10. He’s one of the players I’m most curious about, since he boasted top-50 prospect status last season. That said, it’s hard to argue against Hansen’s exclusion, especially when somebody like Luis Basabe can’t make the cut.
No. 3: That’s a lot of outfielders.
Six of the top 10 White Sox prospects are now outfielders according to BA, with both Adolfo and Gonzalez making sizable leaps into contention and Rutherford holding his ground despite the challenges. In the subsequent chat, Josh Norris had Basabe in his next two. We’ll see how he finishes up the AFL, but I still think I like him the best of the group after Jimenez and Robert.
If you’re wondering how Rutherford survived the turnover, BA is buying more power than he has shown:
His above-average raw power hasn’t turned into many home runs, and those he has hit are all pulled. Some scouts attribute this to a lack of “snap” in Rutherford’s wrists, though the White Sox believe his power will grow. He shows the ability to impact the ball both early and late in the hitting zone, giving him an ability to hit the ball to all fields.
No. 4: Beware of the second-round pick.
Walker’s inclusion surprised me, at least until I dug up last year’s list and saw Sheets at No. 9 despite similar underwhelming results in his pro debut. I do wonder if there’s a recency bias over players who were heavily scouted and considered as draft prospects, as Walker had a disappointing, injury-hampered start to his pro career.
No. 5: Madrigal is the only first-round pick.
Zack Collins drifted off the list because it’s unclear how he’ll get to the majors with his hit tool and catcher skills being what they are at this point. Jake Burger isn’t around because of his two Achilles explosions. Zack Burdi is still searching for his velocity after Tommy John surgery. Carson Fulmer wasn’t a factor in September call-ups. It speaks to the depth of the rebuild that the White Sox are able to come up with 10 compelling prospects without any help from their recent first-rounders, but it’s also a hard way to develop impact players when so many first-rounders are hitting hard times.