With roughly half the season now in the books, it is time to check in on how the White Sox prospects have fared so far during the 2023 season.
While it hasn’t all been perfect, there have been plenty of positives to take away from the development of their farm system during this season, and it even includes breakout players who could be receiving some national recognition soon.
Noah Schultz, SP
Noah Schultz’s professional debut was delayed due to a forearm strain, but he finally appeared in a start for the Kannapolis Kannonballers. Since then, in just 12 innings, Schultz has firmly established himself as the top pitching prospect in the White Sox farm system. The 6’9 lefty has shown off his elite arsenal, striking out 16 batters in those 12 innings and only issuing one walk. While his stuff has impressed scouts, it’s his command despite his lanky frame that is the most impressive part of his game, as it is typically more difficult to keep your delivery in sync with that length. He’s still on a strict pitch count right now, but at this rate, Schultz should start to appear on top 100 prospect lists.
Abraham Nunez, OF
The Sox signed Nunez for a $700,000 signing bonus in January, tied for the most in their 2023 class. While he wasn’t on many top international prospect lists prior to this season, he is having as good of a professional debut as anyone. So far in the Dominican Summer League, an OPS over 1.000 and has showcased himself as both a threat with the bat and on the basepaths. His plate discipline has also been better than advertised, as his walk rate is double his strikeout rate. We should take DSL numbers with a grain of salt, as we learned from the Benyamin Bailey era, but so far this is looking like another successful Marco Paddy find.
Jonathan Cannon, SP
The White Sox 2022 third-round pick has earned his way to represent the team at the 2023 All-Star Futures Game. This season, Cannon has pitched 72.2 innings with the Winston-Salem Dash, where he has shown good control and a solid ability to induce weak contact. The strikeouts were missing early in the season, but he has been improving in that area to raise his K/9 rate to 8.30. He was viewed as a potential fast riser coming into the draft a year ago, and a promotion to Double-A Birmingham should be in the cards sooner rather than later.
Terrell Tatum, OF
Terrell Tatum has put himself on the maps of many scouts this season. He was dominant at High-A Winston Salem with a 144 wRC+, earning a promotion to Double-A Birmingham where his numbers have continued to impress. While he needs to work on cutting down his strikeouts, he has also posted elite walk rates, which have allowed him to showcase his speed on the basepaths with 36 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A. The left-handed outfielder has shown an ability to make an impact in several ways this season, even if he has some room to grow at the plate.
Wilfred Veras, OF
Veras opened some eyes during his stint in Project Birmingham to close out the 2022 season, and he has carried that momentum into 2023 with a rock-solid start. At just 20 years old, Veras has a .279 batting average at the plate with nine home runs on the season, with even more raw power to improve his power numbers. While his strikeout and walk rates still have some room for improvement, he has been a consistent source of production this season.
Erick Hernandez, OF
Hernandez was an exciting international signing in January of 2022 when the Sox inked him with a $1 million signing bonus. Prior to making his debut, scouts praised Hernandez for his hit tool and his makeup, even drawing some comparisons to superstar Juan Soto. Unfortunately, those lofty expectations have yet to come to fruition, as Hernandez has struggled in his stateside debut. In 40 plate appearances, Hernandez has a .171 batting average and a wRC+ of only 21. At only 18 years old, there is still plenty of time for the talented prospect to turn his career around. Unfortunately, the early signs have been disappointing.
Cristian Mena, SP
Early in the season, Cristian Mena was appearing to be on the verge of a massive 2023 breakout season. Unfortunately, he hit a wall in mid-May and has been inconsistent on the mound ever since, holding a 5.62 ERA. Luck hasn’t exactly been on his side this season, as evidenced by his 4.27 xFIP and his 17.6% home run per fly ball rate, and his strikeout numbers have been strong despite being one of the youngest pitchers at the Double-A – so there is still plenty of room for optimism for Mena. However, he will have to recapture the command he had early in the season to regain his upward trajectory.
Wes Kath, 3B
The White Sox were thrilled to be able to float Wes Kath down to the second round of the 2021 MLB draft with an over-slot signing bonus. The Sox thought he was a player who could develop into an impact hitter, but so far in his third season, Kath has failed to live up to those expectations. He has not been able to keep his OPS over .650, and his strikeout rates are a big reason why he has not been able to find any sort of consistency at the plate. Even when he makes contact, he has failed to showcase the raw power he possesses with just a .345 slugging percentage. Kath hasn’t even turned 21 yet, and everyone develops at a different rate, but he will need to make some adjustments quickly in order to remain in the White Sox’ future plans.
Others of Note
Colson Montgomery, SS
Injuries delayed Colson Montgomery’s 2023 season debut, but in just a few short weeks of healthy playing time, he has showcased why he is a consensus top-50 prospect in all of baseball. During his rehab assignment, he has shown the ability to hit for both average and power and has put up elite walk rates while keeping his strikeout numbers respectable. He is expected to rejoin the Double-A Birmingham Barons at some point, and a good showing there could put him on track to debut with the White Sox sometime in 2024.
Bryan Ramos, 3B
Ramos is another one who had his season delayed due to injuries, but is now fully healthy and has regained the consistency he showed last season at the plate. While he hasn’t necessarily done anything to raise his stock as a prospect, he has had a very solid season with the Birmingham Barons, holding a 114 wRC+ and slugging five home runs in 112 at-bats. His strikeout rate has jumped a bit this season, but he is also posting the best walk rate of his career at 14% in Double-A.
Jose Rodriguez, 2B
Popeye was in danger of falling on the Stock Down portion of this article before finding some life in mid-May, where he has since held a batting average above .300 and an OPS just under 1.000. He impressed the organization enough that he was called up to the major league roster for a brief stint, although he did not record a single plate appearance and was only used as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. His season totals are still a bit underwhelming despite his recent hot stretch, but Rodriguez is showcasing his impact both at the plate and on the base paths with 12 stolen bases on the season.
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