As the 2020 season rolls around, the eyes and attitudes of White Sox fans have shifted. After several years of struggles, stopgaps, and lack of production, the big-league roster finally looks like the real deal. The additions of Yasmani Grandal, Nomar Mazara, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, and Edwin Encarnacion have supplemented the emerging young core, and the White Sox are primed to make the leap into contention in 2020. But there is still plenty of talent remaining in the minor league system. Even beyond the obvious star potential of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, the White Sox farm has some very young and very intriguing talent. The following names should serve as a reminder to Sox fans to not be distracted by the flashy offseason, and to remain hopeful about the future of this team. Without further ado, here are the biggest White Sox prospects to pay attention to during the 2020 season:
Micker Adolfo – Outfielder
- Age: 23
- Height: 6’ 4”
- Weight: 255 lbs.
- Highest Level Reached: Birmingham (Double-A)
- Rank in System: 10th
After being signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic, Adolfo finally burst onto the scene for the Kannapolis Intimidators in 2017 with career highs in OBP, SLG, and OPS. He followed that up with even better numbers for Winston-Salem in 2018, but his run was derailed following an elbow injury. Adolfo missed the 2nd half of 2018 and played in just 39 games in 2019, all of which as a designated hitter. Now fully healthy, Adolfo will play the outfield for the first time since mid-2018 and looks to regain the success he had in A-ball. He will likely start the year in Birmingham, a place where offense goes to die, and a strong offensive showing in a tough environment will go a long way toward regaining his trade value, or perhaps even giving him a shot at the right field job in 2021. The potential has always been there and maybe a healthy season can unlock his development.
Jonathan Stiever – RHP
- Age: 22
- Height: 6’ 2”
- Weight: 205 lbs.
- Highest Level Reached: Winston-Salem (High-A)
- Rank in System: 6th
With Michael Kopech injuring his elbow and Dylan Cease graduating to the major leagues in 2019, the White Sox system seemed potentially thin on impact arms. However, after struggling in the first half with Kannapolis, a promotion to Winston-Salem seemed to unlock Stiever’s potential. In 12 starts with Winston-Salem, the righty posted a 2.15 ERA in 71.0 innings, with 77 strikeouts and just 13 walks. His mid-90s fastball pairs nicely with his nasty curveball and above average slider, and his athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery effectively. The 22-year-old has a chance to start 2020 with Double-A Birmingham in a pitcher-friendly environment. Stiever could definitely build off the great finish to 2019 and insert himself into the mix for the rotation as early as 2021.
Luis Alexander Basabe – Outfielder
- Age: 23
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 160 lbs.
- Highest Level Reached: Birmingham (Double-A)
- Rank in System: 7th
One of the lesser known parts of the Chris Sale trade, Basabe is an uber-athletic outfielder with 5-tool potential. Though he has yet to really break out at the plate, he has the speed and defensive capabilities to stick in center field and has more power than his slim frame might suggest. He saw his best numbers two seasons ago, putting up an .800 OPS between Winston-Salem and Birmingham. The possibility of Basabe manning center field in Chicago before the end of the 2019 season was discussed, but injuries in spring training derailed those plans, and Basabe never made it past Double-A in 2019. After the contract extension to Luis Robert, center field now seems filled for the foreseeable future, but a strong 2020 season from Basabe could insert him back into the right field or fourth outfielder conversation, as well as boost his value for a potential trade.
Ian Hamilton – RHP
- Age: 24
- Size: 6’0”
- Weight: 200 lbs.
- Highest Level Reached: Chicago (MLB)
- Rank in System: 19th
It would be hard to have a year more unlucky than Ian Hamilton did in 2019. The reliever entered the spring training with aspirations of breaking camp with the White Sox, only to have his time in Arizona cut short after injuring his shoulder in a car accident. Upon his recovery, he was assigned to Triple-A Charlotte where he struggled. His season then ended abruptly in June when he was hit in the face with a line drive while sitting in the dugout. There is absolutely no reason that his freak injuries should continue into 2020, and Hamilton has the talent to be a part of the White Sox bullpen moving forward. His 70-grade fastball and nasty slider give him potential late-inning stuff. Hamilton will look for a strong spring to put him back in the bullpen conversation.
Luis Mieses – Outfielder
- Age: 19
- Height: 6’3”
- Weight: 180lbs.
- Highest Level Reached: Great Falls (Rookie)
- Rank in System: 28th
Mieses is noteworthy based on upside, not on previous performance. A left-handed hitting outfielder, he probably will be refined to a corner outfield spot, but his 6’3″ frame and great bat-on-ball skills create interesting offensive upside. He is very young and has yet to play full-season ball and he could use some work on laying off bad pitches while taking more walks. It’s important to note amidst all of this that some discipline issues aren’t uncommon for young hitters. This upcoming season should be an interesting test for him, as he will likely spend most of the year in Kannapolis and get his first full season under his belt. If the talent comes together, Mieses has a chance to be a good prospect for the White Sox “next wave.”
Some other notable prospects that are either coming off injuries, or are candidates to take a big step forward in 2020:
- Dane Dunning (RHP)
- Matthew Thompson (RHP)
- Andrew Dahlquist (RHP)
- Jake Burger (3B)
- Jimmy Lambert (RHP)
- Tyler Johnson (RHP)
Be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th and here at SoxOn35th.com for updates on all of these players and more throughout the season!
Featured Photo: Winston-Salem Dash/Twitter