In 2021 when the White Sox produced rookies Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal, and Garrett Crochet, things were looking up for the organization as its rebuilding program seemed to be on track.
However, in a short period of time, the club has seen its system fall to one of the lowest ranked in all of baseball. The drop-off can be heavily attributed to the team's need and/or desire to get some of the players to the big-league level as soon as possible.
Another reason is the team has just missed its scouting projections and failed in its player development areas.
On a recent edition of "inside the Clubhouse" on WSCR theScore 670AM, a caller had asked host Bruce Levine about the inability of the scouting department to find talent at a rate that would help the club and why resources have been lacking in upgrading this area.
Levine responded that their recent picks over the last several years have been very good with the likes of Madrigal, Vaughn, Crochet, and Colson Montgomery being highly touted.
The Chicago White Sox need to be better with their development system.
Of that group, Madrigal did a decent job at second base during his time before being shipped to the Chicago Cubs in the trade for Craig Kimbrel. Vaughn has played well but is still a work in progress and has big shoes to fill as he takes over first base from Jose Abreu.
Crochet's injury issues have set him back and it's not known what his role will be when he returns. Montgomery is considered the team's top prospect but Tim Anderson's heir apparent at shortstop might not be up for a while.
Both Levine and co-host David Haugh think bringing Madrigal back to the White Sox would be a good move due to his familiarity with the team and his being better than what they currently have at the position.
There is still a "wait and see" attitude to take with each of those players as they are still very early in their careers. Each was a highly thought of prospect when they were drafted so it wasn't as if the team was going out on a limb to select them during the draft.
Still, drafting is not an exact science, and those who many think will succeed often don't, and vice versa. All major sports are filled with draft busts and players who came out of nowhere to have great careers.
But building a farm system is a group effort between the scouts and the team itself to put in resources that help replenish the organization when players get promoted. As a whole, this is where the White Sox are failing.
Of the White Sox projected starting lineup this coming season, Vaughn and Anderson are the only two players drafted by the team itself. All other players, including the starting pitching staff, came via trade or free agency.
Drafting and developing talent has not been the White Sox's strong suit and it is reflected in the low rankings given the farm system currently. What makes matters worse is it is also keeping the team from being able to pull the trigger on potential trades.
The Atlanta Brave's acquisition of catcher Sean Murphy came about as a result of a three-way deal involving the Oakland A's and Milwaukee Brewers.
The deal worked because the Braves had talent in the farm system that could make the trade happen. As of August of 2022, MLB Pipeline had the Braves farm system ranked 27th in baseball, one spot behind the White Sox.
The White Sox have Montgomery (57th) and outfielder Oscar Colas (95th) in the top 100 ranking of prospects. Montgomery is not projected to reach the big leagues until 2025 while Colas could be on the opening day roster and playing right field due to the team's inability to fill the position as of yet.
According to positional rankings, as of right now, the White Sox does not have a top-10 prospect at any spot on the diamond.
Joining the White Sox toward the bottom of the farm system list were the Seattle Mariners (24th), Philadelphia Phillies (25th), San Diego Padres (28th), and Houston Astros (29th).
The difference between those teams and the White Sox is each of them was in the playoffs last season with the Phillies and Astros making it to the World Series.
Each of those teams has also been active in the offseason to upgrade their rosters through trades or free agent signings.
An interesting thing to note is that two of the top five farm systems include the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Guardians. The Dodgers have been able to not only draft well to restock their system but also add pieces to the main roster in a way that keeps them in contention year in and year out.
The Guardians had the youngest team in baseball last year, won the American League Central title, and added first baseman Josh Bell in the offseason.
For whatever reason, the White Sox do not seem to put the necessary resources into their scouting and development areas to get the club into a position of being able to have quality players to either promote from within or have pieces they can deal.
As a result, the team will be hoping for Colas to be able to take over right field and for either Romy Gonzalez or Lenyn Sosa to man second base.
Neither Gonzalez nor Sosa had done much in previous opportunities to fill the void at the position which led the team to get Josh Harrison last season and possibly consider bringing back Elvis Andrus for this year.
While true that their farm system took a hit when players came up to the majors at about the same time to get the rebuild going, the White Sox did little to reload on the minor league level.
Roster depth could be a problem especially if there is little in the way of reliable help from the farm system. This issue could come back to haunt them as they find themselves pinning their hopes on players having bounce-back years and far fewer injuries than the previous season.