Normally I avoid discussing Baseball America content out of respect for the fact that it is behind a paywall. In this instance, they have chosen to publish their annual Top 100 prospects list for free, and presumably are using it to promote the rest of their generally excellent content. To that end, in case you didn’t know – the the top 100 is up!
The White Sox weigh in with four players on this list – at #29 is Jose Abreu. BA has made the decision to consider Abreu a prospect for these purposes, which is not always the case in the prospect list world. Much virtual ink has already gone up on this page concerning Mr. Abreu, and his profile does not seem likely to change and the question of how he will fare against major league pitching pretty much cannot be answered until we…well, see him face major league pitching on a consistent basis.
Two of the other Top 100 do not come as surprises. Erik Johnson appears at #63 and Matt Davidson is #72. Erik Johnson is the consensus White Sox top prospect, if you do not consider Jose Abreu eligible for this sort of thing, and this marks the 4th consecutive year that Davidson has appeared on BA’s top 100 list, although this is certainly the highest he has been ranked on it by a wide margin.
The 4th name actually surprised me a bit, as Marcus Semien weighed in at #91. Part of that is a nod to the fact that, if we are evaluating prospects by their expected value – probability of success multiplied by potential ceiling – then Semien is already knocking on the door of the majors and looks like his glove can play at three different positions. This gives him a very high floor as far as prospects go.
If you do not consider Jose Abreu as a “prospect”, then the White Sox do not have anyone in the Top 50. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Obviously prospect rank is trying to encapsulate a ton of different possible outcomes, and a guy who is 100 on this list could very well wind up outperforming someone who is ranked in the Top 10 – but it still interested me to see that Semien ranked ahead of some pretty well-known prospect names like Michael Choice, Zach Lee, and Arismendy Alcantara (our super utility infielder is marginally better than yours according to a consensus of prospect writers and scouts, Cubs! Take that!).
This is another data point in the general theme of this offseason – Things Are Getting Better. Last year the White Sox only had one prospect in the Top 100 – Courtney Hawkins. While we are all familiar with the fact that he was aggressively promoted and just couldn’t handle it, he is still very young, the tools that made him a big prospect are all still there, and he will get another crack at it this season. If Courtney Hawkins winds up the top prospect in an improved system next year I will not be surprised at all. Moreover, another Top 100 candidate – someone who has squeaked in on other Top 100 lists I’ve seen – is Tim Anderson, who did not make this list. Anderson has a few very good things going for him – he looks like he will be able to stick at shortstop, and he has a lot of athleticism. Although raw out of the draft, he has evidently polished up quite a bit already in his brief time in the pros, which is hopefully a sign of more development to come.
Perhaps it is worth noting that the White Sox also added the #73 prospect from last year’s Top 100 – Adam Eaton – who has too much major league service time to quality for this year’s edition.
All told, that means they have gone from one guy on the Top 100, with maybe a second in Erik Johnson floating around in the “honorable mention” pile to four solidly on it, and two or three others who are worth considering or may be back on it next year. Progress.