White Sox Road to Success: On Track or Better Than Astros, Cubs?

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Michael Kopech
MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Michael Kopech /

Is White Sox current rebuild in better shape than when past two World Champions were rebuilding their teams a few years ago?

Many people are locking in the White Sox for the 2020 World Series but they’re not the first team to be predicted as such. As most people in Chicago know, the Cubs have become perennial National League pennant favorites and were projected to be only a few years ago. The Twins and the Brewers are the newest teams to probably reach that status next year or the year after, but a team that just won World Series is what the White Sox are closest to replicating at the moment.

A big story of this year’s world champion had the same narrative the White Sox are currently following. Tearing it all down and building it from the ground up. Mostly with draft picks, the Astros have successfully made it to the point they wanted to reach only a few years go. The infamous Sports Illustrated cover that read “Your 2017 World Champions”  showcased the rebuild of the 2014 Astros.

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Houston displayed how a rebuild is done correctly, with two wins from an ALDS appearance in 2015 and a World Series title in 2017 is pretty remarkable. This came after three straight seasons of losing 100 games from 2011-2013. Even more remarkable, this very well may not be their last World Series for a while.

The Astros have four phenomenal studs in George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. Thye also have other fantastic players like Marwin Gonzalez, Yuli Gurriel, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr. Springer, Altuve, Bregman and Correa are each franchise players that the Astros all acquired in drafts. Altuve in 2007, Springer in 2011, Correa in 2012 and Bregman in 2015 and all are 28 years old or younger. Correa and Bregman being only 23 years old. The White Sox are close to that similar dynamic but with a different emphasis.

The White Sox have two or three solid studs in the lineup with two more possible studs in the minor leagues at the moment. Tim Anderson will need to show improvements to be a bona fide stud in the big leagues. If Anderson can bump up his batting average to about .285 or .290, while continuing to raise his run-producing numbers, he’ll be right on track. Avi Garcia showed he can be a stud after a few years of struggling to keep up with the game.

If Garcia continues to have the season he just had in 2017 for the next few years, he’ll be guaranteed that spot in right field as one of the game’s most productive hitters. Last but not least is Yoan Moncada, who could be a fantastic player on a championship-contending team. Moncada has big-time star potential but the development needs to happen first.

Other possible studs in the lineup right now include Nicky Delmonico if he can be more consistent and Matt Davidson if he continues to build on a great rookie season. Jose Abreu is not included because he’s already over 30 years old. He’s definitely one of the best hitters in baseball that will help the White Sox if he stays with the team.

In the minor leagues, some consider Eloy Jimenez to be the future of the team after the rough start Moncada had to his White Sox regular season campaign. Jimenez has been tearing up the Caribbean League batting .354 with 13 RBIs, 17 hits, and eight  extra-base hits through 12 games. His OBP is .385 and his SLG is .667. Jimenez looks poised to be one of the game’s best hitters with crazy power. Also in the minor leagues is Luis Robert who was the biggest Cuban signing since Moncada, so there’s definitely plenty of star power waiting in the Minor Leagues as well.

Overall – out of Anderson (24), Garcia (26), Moncada (23), Delmonico (25), Davidson (26), Jimenez (20) and Robert (20) are all under 27 years old. If only three or four of those players reach their maximum potential, the White Sox will be a great position to win.

What the Astros are technically missing, if anything, is a strong bullpen and young starting pitching. Verlander (35), Dallas Keuchel (30 next year) and Charlie Morton (33) cannot hold the starting rotation down for many more years. The Astros only have four pitchers 27 years old or younger and only one is a starter in McCullers Jr.

The Cubs are also struggling to get a hold of a youthful pitching staff, with their youngest starter being Kyle Hendricks at 27 years old. Luckily for the Sox, if they are investing heavily in anything, it’s pitching.

Check out the youth in the pitching staff that the White Sox currently have:

Ages of White Sox Pitchers (MLB & MiLB)

Lucas Giolito – 23
Reynaldo Lopez – 23
Carlos Rodon – 24
Michael Kopech – 21
Carson Fulmer – 23
Dylan Cease – 21
Alec Hansen – 23
Dane Dunning – 22

Zack Burdi – 23

A couple of these pitchers can be dumped off in trades for MLB ready prospects but a majority of them have a huge part in the Sox future. Giolito, Lopez, and Kopech could be at the forefront in the near future. Rodon needs to stay healthy and hopefully have steadier performances to build on next year.

However, for the most part this a very intimidating and amazing group of phenomenal young pitchers who could have ace-quality potential. For a championship run, a team only needs about three to four strong, great starting pitchers and the White Sox have a great group to choose from.

Next: To Keep or Not to Keep Jose Abreu Beyond 2019 Season

The White Sox are in very good shape to emulate the Astros and Cubs recent success, but for the moment are surprisingly in even better shape as far as all-around team success goes. While the future obviously remains unknown and the White Sox could very well miss out on many of these prospects, the future is much more exciting than it is frightening.