The minor league season is officially underway, and the farm system of the Chicago White Sox brings a lot of promise to the 2023 season. While they still generally rank in the bottom third of the league in farm system rankings, the Sox have a true blue-chip prospect in Colson Montgomery, another near-consensus top-100 prospect in Oscar Colas (although he will most likely graduate from prospect status by mid-season), and several other prospects who showed plenty of promise throughout their minor league careers.
Last season, the White Sox saw young prospects like Bryan Ramos, Lenyn Sosa, and Cristian Mena take massive steps in their development and put themselves on scouts’ radars. All three of those prospects have chances to continue on their current trajectory, but will the Sox see similar developmental breakouts from other prospects in 2023?
There are several prospects who have a chance to break out this season and become legitimate factors in the White Sox’ future plans. In this article, we will discuss the five who are most likely to have that break-out season.
Ryan Burrowes, SS
In a year full of breakout performances, Ryan Burrowes arguably made the most surprising jump, going from signing for a $75,000 signing bonus to being ranked the #11 prospect in the White Sox system per MLB Pipeline. This momentum is gearing Burrowes toward a potentially massive breakout when he makes his stateside debut in 2023.
Burrowes has five-tool capabilities as an athletic, rangy shortstop with an advanced approach at the plate and plenty of raw power. Scouts were impressed with the exit velocities he was registering during his debut in the Dominican Summer League, and he was even brought up by outside teams during trade talks mid-season. He is expected to begin the season in extended spring training and eventually start the season in the Arizona Complex League, but if he continues to impress the organization, an appearance in Low-A Kannapolis isn’t out of the question.
Erick Hernandez, OF
Scouts don’t just hand out Juan Soto comparisons, and while Erick Hernandez didn’t quite live up to expectations in his brief professional debut in the Dominican Summer League, he still has a good enough hit tool to bounce back and live up to expectations in 2023. Signing for $1 million in 2022, Hernandez’s hitting ability drew rave reviews and led him to be ranked among the top 30 international prospects of the signing period.
While nagging injuries limited his production in 2022, Hernandez will be fully healthy when he debuts stateside in the Arizona Complex League. His patience at the plate combined with his bat-to-ball skills should allow him to be a consistently productive hitter going forward. While his contact ability surpasses his raw power, he has plenty of bat speed that can eventually lead him to be a 20+ home run threat. He has also been lauded for his work ethic, so he is sure to look to get his career back on track. The White Sox love what he brings to the table, so he will get every chance to show them why the large signing bonus was worth it.
Tanner McDougal, SP
Tanner McDougal might have been the second-most intriguing pick from the White Sox 2021 draft class, the same one that saw them draft Colson Montgomery in the first round. A former fifth-round pick, McDougal wowed scouts at the pre-draft combine with mid-90s velocity on his fastball and elite spin rates on his curveball and slider. He started off his professional career showing an impressive ability to strike batters out (40.5% strikeout rate) before he was eventually diagnosed with a UCL tear that required Tommy John Surgery.
McDougal has been committed to his rehab and is expected to eventually join the Low-A Kannapolis Cannonballers starting rotation. He will likely be on an innings limit as he works his way back, but he will be given plenty of chances to showcase his ability this season and establish himself as one of the better pitching prospects in the system.
Luis Mieses, OF
If you are looking for a corner outfield prospect who looks the part, Luis Mieses is your guy. The 6’3, 200+ lbs left-handed corner outfield prospect is just 22 years old and has already displayed his ability to hit throughout his minor league career. Last season, he held a .284 batting average with 15 home runs and 39 doubles, with plenty of raw power to increase that homerun total to 20+. Defensively, Mieses has a 60-grade arm and enough range to more than capably handle right field.
The one factor that has held Mieses back is his plate discipline. While he only struck out in 16.6% of his at-bats last season, he is still too aggressive at the plate, leading him to chase pitches and limit his on-base percentage. If he can learn to be a bit more selective at the plate, he is capable of putting up impressive numbers in 2023 and garnering much more attention.
Loidel Chapelli, 2B
As a 20-year-old during the 2022 season, Chapelli beat up on younger pitching prospects in the Dominican Summer League to put up a 1.084 OPS and eight home runs in his debut season. While these numbers are impressive, he will face a much more telling test in 2023 as he makes his state-side debut with an aggressive promotion to High-A Winston-Salem.
Initially signing for $500,000, Chapelli has a smooth lefty swing that can generate plenty of hard contact. Defensively, he is new to the second base position after primarily playing in the outfield in Cuba, but he seemed to seamlessly make the transition last season. He has more raw power than one would expect from a 5’8 middle infielder, and he has a chance to make a name for himself as he faces the challenge of facing more age-appropriate pitching at the higher minor-league levels.
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