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Feb 26, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Charlie Leesman (71) poses for a picture during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Taking cues on the White Sox starter depth

Baseball America (Phil Rogers) released their most recent edition of the White Sox top 10 prospects list on Monday. The first thing that jumps out at you is all of the hot and exciting athleticism in  the outfield. Courtney Hawkins, Trayce Thompson, and Keenyn Walker are all in the top 5 of both Rogers’ list and MLB.com’s list. Jared Mitchell is still around too.

None of them will be ready to take hold of a starting gig this next year–only Thompson seems close–but it shows why the White Sox have been exploring the notion of trading from their outfield depth. They could also just trade the prospects, like old times.

That’s some exciting stuff, and it’s coming from the White Sox farm system. I could have focused on that (at 120+ words, I already have), or focus on Carlos Sanchez’s slap-hitting, or chronicle Courtney Hawkins milking his birthday on Twitter like nothing this world has ever seen. Instead, let’s talk 6th starters.

Hector Santiago and Jose Quintana are locked in a death battle for the 5th starter slot, which is all well and good, but gets dicey if Gavin Floyd is considered a luxury and they both are given 180 innings to fingerpaint in.  Both had major items on the Legitimate Starter Checklist still blank at the close of the season–Quintana needs a changeup to counterbalance the fact that no, he cannot expect to throw his 90 mph fastball perfectly on the hands of right-handers every time, and Hector needs to throw some more strikes.

Next in line is presumably, and eternally, Dylan Axelrod, who is a charming spot starter, but also never being promoted from there (Though the Padres gave Eric Stults 14 starts this season, so you never know). He should be quickly overtaken by any legitimate, near-ready starter prospect. Instead…

Nestor Molina, last year’s consensus #2 prospect, is nowhere to be seen on a list made by Rogers, who, as Larry from South Side Sox notes, is generally more deferential to what he hears from the organization than most.  Also absent is Simon Castro, who was also part of the mini-rebuilding of last season, and also had an underwhelming season with some injury troubles.  Castro has even dropped all the way down to #15 in the MLB.com rankings. The White Sox system is a little bit better than it used to be, but #15 is still pretty darn low.

With Charlie Leesman producing the best straight results at the AAA level, and lower-level prospect Erik Johnson, 2012 draft pick Chris Beck, and even Scott Snodgress grading out higher for the potential, Molina and Castro’s future as starters in the organization seems precarious.  That’s not a total loss, nor shock, because each player came to town with warnings that their future was in the bullpen, but its a clue to the volatility of all of this.

It’s an absurdly early date and we lack a full collection of information, including more prospect lists and Spring Training, but for the moment, I’d pit the deepest depths of the starting pitching depth chart as:

5. Jose Quintana

6. Hector Santiago

7. Dylan Axelrod

8. Charlie Leesman

9. Andre Reinzo

10. Simon Castro

11. Nestor Molina

137. Philip Humber

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

Tags: Chicago White Sox Nestor Molina Prospects Simon Castro

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