Which Chicago White Sox prospects will make their major league debut in 2018? 2019? 2020? When and why Sox fans should expect to see the next wave of talent.
After year one of the rebuild, there is a lot of excitement on the Southside from White Sox fans. The team experienced some success, new faces gained valuable playing time at the major league level, a few players are primed to return from injuries, and the organization is still loaded with top prospects.
Now that top prospect lists have been released and Spring Training is right around the corner, it’s easy for players and fans alike to daydream about cracking the big league roster and witnessing the influx of talent, respectively. Especially with so many elite prospects looming in the White Sox farm system, the pressure is on the major league roster to earn and keep their spots.
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The front office also has to navigate the different aspects of promoting players. Too early a promotion can lead to physical or mental struggles for the player, as well as potentially costing the team more future money by starting the service clock. It can create a difficult situation and become seemingly impossible to balance. However, it’s tough to see a scenario where the White Sox aren’t forced to promote at least a few prospects in 2018.
Players returning to MLB in 2018
Carson Fulmer should be part of the starting rotation at the beginning of the season. It’s time. He’s ready. Charlie Tilson will hopefully have better luck with injuries this year and take over regular center field duty.
Predictions of who will be promoted, when they will be promoted, and why:
Ryan Cordell: start of the season. Cordell will take advantage of his more extensive minor league experience and a lack of clear solutions in the corner outfield to break camp with the White Sox. He might even be a surprise breakout this year.
Dane Dunning: mid-May. Dunning will miss enough bats and keep his walk rate down enough to get called up to the Sox bullpen early in 2018. Once there, he and his sports goggles will displace someone who is not a solidified member of the bullpen, or cover for an injury to become an integral piece of the back-end.
Alec Hansen: late May. Hansen will have a strong showing this spring as a non-roster invite. He will initially be called up as a swingman to cover a start or two and come out of the bullpen due to some combination of injuries and fatigue. Hansen will head back to the minors for a time before ultimately being called back up for good in August.
Casey Gillaspie: mid-June. The White Sox have publicly declared a need for a designated hitter. Matt Kemp is reportedly not on their wish list. Matt Davidson strikes out at an alarmingly high rate (37.2 percent with the Sox in 2017), even for someone with his prodigious power. Gillaspie will heat up over the first couple of months in Triple-A before replacing the incumbent DH in June.
Eloy Jimenez: early July. Jimenez will force the hand of the front office. He will get off to a scorching start after a big spring showing. With a lack of proven outfielders at the MLB level, his Triple-A success will result in his debut just before the All-Star Break. Southside Showdown’s Etheria Modacure recently estimated just after the All-Star Break. In either case, look for him to stay, especially if Avisail Garcia gets traded before the deadline.
Michael Kopech: late August. Kopech will struggle initially this season but will display improved control and a devastating arsenal. The White Sox will try to hold off his call-up as long as possible, but with some likely trades, he will inevitably debut prior to the larger group of September call-ups. Watch his first MLB game. He will be impressive.
Zack Collins: September call-ups. Collins will rake in Triple-A this year. His defense will be good enough to warrant a shot at the show in September. However, he could be up sooner if a contender finds itself in need of a backstop, as Welington Castillo might make himself a valuable trade chip.
Blake Rutherford: September call-ups. Rutherford may not be the flashiest of White Sox prospects, and he hasn’t played above A-ball thus far in his career. However, he has adjusted fairly well in the minors, driving in runs despite a true lack of home run power. Don’t be surprised if he makes enough of a showing to get the call after the minor league season is over.
Dylan Cease: September call-ups. With September being the season of spot-starts and minor league starters debuting as major league relievers, Cease should get his first taste of MLB action. He will debut in the bullpen before receiving a start towards the end of the year.
Spencer Adams, Jake Burger, Zack Burdi (recently began throwing after Tommy John surgery), Ian Clarkin, and Luis Robert represent next year’s group of graduates. White Sox nation will want to see Robert make the team after spring training this year. He will be exciting to watch, but a fear of overexposure too early in his career will keep him from debuting until 2019. This timeline is subject to change, however, if Garcia is traded between now and the 2018 deadline.