White Sox Top Prospects As Good As Advertised This Spring

Feb 28, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech (78) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech (78) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

White Sox top prospects have excelled during Spring Training. Can some of these prospects make their debuts on the south side this season?

It’s nearly a month into Chicago White Sox Spring Training and the prospects that have been the buzz surrounding the team have finally had their trial run. The highly rated prospects the Sox have in their farm systems, as well as the others acquired in offseason trades, have been the given the opportunity to showcase their talents and skills in the preseason and so far they’ve been as good as advertised.

While Spring Training is not a definite measuring stick of their talent in a real Major League situation, these young players have had a chance to play with everyday Major Leaguers and players on their own skill level. At the very least, the coaching staff got to see exactly what tools they’re dealing with for the next few years. Fortunately for the White Sox and their fans, the next few years look very bright.

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As of Friday, the White Sox have sent all of their top six prospects (MLB Pipeline) to either minor league camp or their minor league teams, which is a part of the rebuilding process, but despite their starting spot for the 2017 season, the prospects showed some flashes of their publicized greatness during Spring Training.

Yoan Moncada

Going in order, the White Sox No. 1 prospect – and MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 overall prospect – Moncada did not have an overwhelming Spring Training but finished with a .317 batting average, 13 RBIs, 13 hits, of which eight were extra base hits which included three home runs. He actually hit his three home runs in his last four games of Spring Training, in which he went 7-for-11 with 7 RBIs and only one strikeout.

Moncada also played very well defensively at the hotly contested spot of second base. It took him a while to get going but Moncada definitely showed why the White Sox traded their former ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox for him. He showed off his power and his premier skills at the plate near the end of his Spring Training time and that’s a very good sign to see that he was just heating up. Moncada was sent to Triple-A Charlotte to start the season.

The Young Guns

The pitchers acquired in the Sale and Adam Eaton trades were the biggest haul of the offseason, in addition to Moncada. With their limited to no MLB experience, their performances would be one of the things to watch for during this preseason.

Again in order Lucas Giolito (Sox no. 2/MLB no.11), Michael Kopech (Sox no.3/MLB no.16), Reynaldo Lopez (Sox no. 4/MLB no. 46), Carson Fulmer (Sox no. 5/MLB no.71) and Zack Burdi (Sox no. 7/MLB N/A) all had either multiple outings or multiple starts. And while a few of these players had a much more productive Spring than others, each of these pitchers displayed what they will bring to the table in the future.

Giolito had four starts in Spring Training. He pitched two innings twice, three innings, four innings and 0.2 innings in those starts. This is more of a sample-sized workload but his performance was expected for a second-year, 22-year-old prospect. His last start was his worst one without a doubt. In 0.2 innings pitched, he allowed eight hits, five earned runs and walked two.

The big righty did however have a few promising flashes here and there in his limited workload. His best start was against Arizona where he threw four innings, allowed three hits and one earned run. Overall, his first Spring Training with his new team was a bit of a letdown. He was sent to Triple-A Charlotte.

Kopech had a similar Spring with only six innings pitched but at 20 years-old, the White Sox are definitely excited about Kopech. In his first start, he only went an inning and allowed four runs to the Cubs. He eventually settled down to throw two semi-decent Spring starts allowing only four hits and one run and striking out nine over five innings.

The exciting thing about Kopech is the hype surrounding his fastball and electric arm is very real. He hit over 100 MPH on the speed gun multiple times and he was able locate the strike zone more frequently. Kopech was sent to Minor League camp and he could start off the year in Single-A Winston-Salem.

Out of the new arrivals, Lopez had the best Spring Training. He had five starts that amounted for 19.1 innings and even though he started off his Sox career with a bit of a hiccup in his first Spring Training start (1.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER), he was strong and in control the rest of the preseason.

  • ARI: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 SO
  • MIL: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 SO
  • KC: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 SO
  • SF: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 SO

Lopez’s 15 strikeouts, .197 opponent batting average, 19.1 innings pitched, 0.93 WHIP and 3.72 ERA were among the team’s best (among pitchers with 5 IP or more). He was also sent to Triple-A Charlotte.

Now one of the Sox guys – a player drafted by the White Sox –  Fulmer performed around the same level that Giolito did, but with a much larger sample-size. Fulmer had four starts and one relief appearance and he was generally okay. He was at times a bit inconsistent in his performances but he kept the damage to a minimum. He pitched a total of 13 innings, gave up 15 hits, seven earned runs, no home runs, walked eight and struck out 10.

The Future’s Future

Another Sox draft pick Zack Collins also attended Spring Training for a brief period of time. The 10th overall pick in last year’s draft was invited to the White Sox Spring Training camp but Collins was a part of the first Spring Training cuts. He played in six games and had eight at-bats. He had three hits, one double, one RBI and drew two walks.

Burdi, who was also drafted in the 2016 MLB draft was one of the biggest surprises of the Spring. Burdi is the highest rated prospected still at Spring Training. The 22-year-old 2016 first round pick of the White Sox has been stellar this preseason. Like Lopez, he’s been among the leaders on the team in most of the major pitching statistics like innings pitched, opponent batting average, WHIP and K’s.

The former Louisville Cardinal has been utilized mostly in relief for an inning at a time and he’s been putting up zero after zero on the scoreboard.  His worst outinghowever came on Saturday against the Indians. Burdi pitched was unable to complete an inning of work as he allowed four hits and four earned runs.

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However, with rest of the pitching prospects that arrived in Chicago earlier this season, Burdi was not on the radar of many fans this Spring Training so his impressive performances are that much more unexpected and exciting.