The Baseball America Top 10 White Sox Prospects list is out, and there is a bit more optimism involved on this list than there has been in the last couple of years. The organization is not exactly teeming with up and coming talent, but it won’t be the butt of every single barren system joke over the course of the winter. I say not every, so there will still be some “wow this system is bad” jokes here and there.
If he’s going to be a top prospect he’s going to need some baseball pants. (David Banks-US PRESSWIRE)
1.Courtney Hawkins – OF
2.Trayce Thompson – OF
3.Carlos Sanchez – SS/2B
4.Erik Johnson – RHP
5.Keenyn Walker – OF
6.Scott Snodgress – LHP
7.Andre Rienzo – RHP
8.Keon Barnum – 1B
9.Jared Mitchell – OF
10.Chris Beck – RHP
Courtney Hawkins who will long be remembered for his draft day back flip, leads the way. He’s probably going to stand out on most any prospect guru’s list because he’s got a high ceiling. Many players within the organization are less of a gamble, guys ticketed for the major leagues but not as superstars or high impact players. For example the top White Sox prospect heading into last season was Addison Reed, and though we were excited for him to make an impact, we knew that he would do so as a bullpen guy, which limits his overall value potential. Hawkins has some superstar tools that he will try to harness and build upon. Big power, a great arm, and decent speed create a corner outfield profile with a chance to be an impactful, everyday player. It’s definitely saying something about the condition of the system to start with that a 19 year-old (oh hey, Happy Birthday, Courtney), without a full season of professional experience has surged to the top of the prospect list.
There are a couple of neat items in the sidebar that accompany the list, including a projected 2016 lineup. Well, it’s kind of neat, and kind of depressing, as this projection has Gordon Beckham playing second base 4 years down the road (does this mean he’s figured out his plate troubles?! Tell me, Grays Sports Almanac!) and shows a pitching rotation that’s the same as what we can expect to see in 2013. In one of the more accurate pieces, Dayan Viciedo as a player at any position has been abandoned and he is relegated to DH.
Let’s not prematurely look to the future, though, let’s instead glance to the past. In the past 10 years, the White Sox #1 prospects have consisted of guys who all made the major leagues save for Jared Mitchell (2010, pre-ankle break), who still has time to do so. It’s the caliber of player the #1’s ended up being that is troublesome. You could argue that Chris Sale (2011) and Addison Reed (2012) can still prove to be top tier players. You could even make a case for Gordon Beckham (2009) to stick around long term and be an above average contributor. Bobby Jenks stole the top ranking in 2006 by performing just enough on the big club in 2005 to qualify, but after that things fall to the true disappointments. Joe Borchard (2003) may hold the U.S. Cellular Field HR distance title but beyond that his name isn’t going to call up much of anything besides frustration from Sox fans. Jeremy Reed (2004), Brian Anderson (2005), Ryan Sweeney (2007) and Aaron Poreda (2008) round out a list of players who once held such hope, but failed to do what White Sox fans, and apparently the fine folks of Baseball America, expected of them.