White Sox Prospect Stock Report
The Chicago White Sox entered spring training nearly one month ago, at the time we all wondered about among other things, how some of the more touted prospects would fare this spring. Tim Anderson, and Carson Fulmer of course were the two main attractions in that regard, but the White Sox also extended invites to a handful of other prospects including Jason Coats, Jacob May, Adam Engel, Matt Davidson, Courtney Hawkins, and more.
So how has this spring training effected the stock of these touted, and in some cases doubted White Sox prospects? Let’s take a look at some of the winners, and losers of this years spring training.
Matt Davidson came into spring training with little-to-no expectations of success, having tumbled down the prospect rankings from 2015 to 2016. Davidson struggled to hit for average in his two seasons with Triple-A Charlotte, and showed no sign of changing that. That is until this spring, as Davidson has had by far the best spring of any White Sox prospect. The 24 year-old third-baseman has posted a .440 batting average this spring hitting safely 11 times in 25 at-bats thus far. Davidson has hit four home runs, while driving in 11 runs, and scoring seven runs. Davidson has turned the head of just about every fan, and writer alike, and I’m sure Robin Ventura has taken note as well. Before the Adam LaRoche retirement, Davidson’s excellent spring was unlikely to net him a spot on the 25 man roster when camp broke. With LaRoche now gone, the White Sox need a back-up first baseman behind Jose Abreu. I don’t believe that Davidson will get many looks at the designated hitter position given the signing of Austin Jackson as a fourth outfielder, combined with the equally impressive spring campaign that outfielder Avisail Garcia has had. What I do beleive is that Davidson would be an excellent candidate internally at least, to assume the back-up first-baseman role behind Jose Abreu. Davidson could also get some playing time spelling Todd Frazier at his natural third base position throughout the season.
Jacob May has quietly had a solid spring campaign this year. May’s numbers aren’t off the charts like Matt Davidson‘s, but they have definitely exceeded expectations. In his first full spring campaign, (May had only three at-bats in 2015) May has posted a .261 batting average, and a .320 OBP to date. May has one home run, and five RBI this spring, and has showcased his speed with four stolen bases, and five runs scored. The 24 year-old outfielder has taken advantage of his non-roster invite this spring, and while May will undoubtedly play the 2016 season in Double-A Birmingham he has made his case that he will be a viable outfield option in the near future for the White Sox.
Carson Fulmer got his first taste of pitching against major league hitting this spring, and despite a deceivingly high ERA of 6.75 Fulmer has fared well. Fulmer has made two starts this spring, and thrown 5.1 IP total. The 22 year-old rookie has looked sharper with each of his three appearances, culminating in a scoreless inning of relief last week. Fulmer has a pair of strike outs, and a WHIP of 1.88 to date. Fulmer’s number do not tell an accurate story of how he has fared this this spring. With a pitcher that less than a year ago was pitching in the NCAA for Vanderbilt, the most important thing that you should look for is improvement from appearance to appearance, showing you that he can adapt to major league hitters. Fulmer is a winner this spring because he has accomplished that thus far. Fulmer will see some more action this afternoon against the Oakland Athletics, and I’m not sure how much more after that. Fulmer will being the year in the minors, but he will definitely be a part of the White Sox rotation sooner, rather than later.
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Erik Johnson entered spring training with realistic aspirations of assuming a role in the back-end of the starting rotation. Those hopes have since fizzled out after both the Mat Latos signing, and the dumpster fire of a spring campaign that Johnson has posted thus far. The 26 year-old has started two games this spring, and looked equally poor in both. Johnson has a 13.50 ERA in 6.0 IP, and while Johnson has been quoted claiming that he belongs in the big leagues, he most likely will not be in that role in 2016, barring injury to John Danks or Mat Latos.
Tim Anderson came into camp looking to build upon an impressive 2015 season with Double-A Birmingham, where he posted an impressive batting average of .312 while stealing 49 bases. Anderson missed time this spring for the birth of his new child, and since returning just has not fared well. While I’m inclined to beleive that the timing of the child birth has in some way affected his performance, it’s holds no weight on his evaluation as far as when he will be ready to make the jump to the major league level. Anderson has just two hits in 10 at-bats this spring netting him a lowly .200 batting average, with just one RBI, and one run scored. With the signing of Jimmy Rollins, as well as his rejuvenated spring campaign the urgency of Tim Anderson being ready to make that jump has subsided over the past month, and Anderson will go back down to the minors, likely Triple-A Charlotte in the next few weeks, and have the opportunity to fine tune his game further for the immediate future.
Adam Engel won the Arizona Fall League’s Most Valuable Player Award this past fall, and looked like he had at least semi figured it out, and was ready to take on a bigger challenge than Advanced-A ball. In a small sample size this spring, Engel has been brought back down to reality. Hit-less in five at-bats thus far, Engel has looked out of place versus major league pitching. His only value to the team this spring has been on the bases as a pinch-runner, where he has scored three times. Engel proved that he may very well still be a couple of years away from sniffing the major league level.