As the MLB lockout has no end in sight, and with the calendar approaching 2022, now is a good time to shift to the minor league system of the Chicago White Sox. While it has been severely depleted due to all of the former top prospects graduating to the Major League club, there are still some intriguing prospects who have a chance at making their own impact.
Top 10 Prospects
1. Colson Montgomery, SS
The last time the White Sox drafted a multi-sport shortstop, it worked pretty well. Here’s hoping history repeats itself, as the top draft pick for the Sox in 2021 offers a ton of upside for this farm system. Montgomery possesses a smooth left-handed swing with plenty of pop, he has already garnered comparisons to Corey Seager. While deeming him that caliber of a player is premature, he has all the tools to turn into an all-star caliber player down the road.
2. Norge Vera, RHP
Vera has solidified his status as the top arm in the White Sox farm system (although the competition wasn’t exactly stiff). He did exactly what he was supposed to do playing in the DSL where he was much more advanced than the competition: dominate. Giving up 0 runs in 19 innings while striking out 34 and only walking 5, his performance should not be dismissed due to the level of competition. He possesses a fastball that can touch triple digits, and he reportedly has an advanced feel for his secondary offerings. He has the potential to be a legitimate starting pitcher.
3. Yolequi Cespedes, OF
Cespedes’ 2021 season, while not a bust, left some to be desired. His season debut was delayed due to issues with his work visa, and he began the season in High-A Winston Salem, which was a level lower than most expected. He did put up a solid slash line of .278/.355/.494 in 45 games with the Dash, and his 8 Home Runs and 10 Stolen Bases were a nice bonus. This led to an eventual call-up to Double-A Birmingham, where he put up less impressive numbers. He did improve his batting average to .298, although a .409 BABIP definitely played a part in that. Aside from that, the power numbers were not there with only 1 home run and 6 total extra-base hits in 27 total games. Birmingham has a notoriously pitcher-friendly park, but those numbers still won’t cut it for an outfielder with his tools.
4. Jose Rodriguez, SS
The biggest riser in the Sox minor league system, Rodriguez put himself firmly in their future with an impressive 2021 season. At 20 years old, he proved to be too advanced for both Low-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston Salem, making a brief debut with Double-A Birmingham to end the season. While he doesn’t have as loud of tools as some other names on this list, Rodriguez showed more than enough pop with 14 home runs between the three levels, and even added in 30 stolen bases. While he may not stick at shortstop, he has the capability of being an everyday 2B in the not-so-distant future.
5. Wes Kath, INF
The 2nd round pick of the Sox in 2021 also offers some intriguing upside. As a high school left-handed hitting shortstop with plus power potential, the Sox signed him for an above slot $1.8m. While they have already shifted him to 3B, he has the arm and the power needed to stick.
6. Jake Burger, 3B
One of the biggest feel-good stories for the Sox in 2021, Jake Burger finally made his long-awaited MLB debut and held his own. In Triple-A Charlotte, Burger put up a rock-solid .274/.332/.513 slash line with 18 home runs and proved to be capable of sticking at the hot corner despite the Achilles injuries.
7. Sean Burke, RHP
The Sox snagged another intriguing prospect with their 3rd round pick in the 2021 draft in Sean Burke. A college righty with a 6’6 230 lb frame, Burke possesses an above-average fastball and solid breaking pitches. He had an encouraging debut in professional baseball, pitching to a 2.65 ERA with 25 Ks in just 17 innings between Arizona rookie ball and Low-A Kannapolis.
8. Jared Kelley, RHP
Thought to be the steal of the 2020 draft, Jared Kelley’s start to professional ball has left some to be desired. He battled some shoulder and forearm issues throughout the season and had an unsightly 7.61 ERA. He still possesses an absolute heater of a fastball and secondary pitches that have a chance to be at least above average, however, he will need to learn to control all of them much better if he is to ever make it to the MLB.
9. Matthew Thompson, RHP
Possibly the best athlete of all the White Sox top pitching prospects, Thompson possesses a high-velocity fastball but struggles to control it. His secondary pitches have a chance to be at least average, although he has struggled to control those as well. He has the tools to be an effective starter at the highest level, he just hasn’t put it together yet.
10. Micker Adolfo, OF
Adolfo has been on these lists for a long time, and unfortunately, his time might have run out on the south side as he is out of minor league options. Adolfo still possesses the light-tower power and cannon arm that led him to be one of the top international prospects back in 2013, and he seemed to finally put it together this year making his debut in Triple-A Charlotte. His issue, however, is still the strikeouts as he K’d over 32% of his ABs in both Double and Triple-A this season. The Sox will have an interesting decision on retaining him this offseason.
The Next Five
Andrew Dalquist, RHP
Another former recently drafted prep arm, Dalquist has the upside to be a starter in MLB but has struggled with command.
Romy Gonzalez, SS
Gonzales was another high riser this past year, as no one expected him to make his MLB debut in 2021. He showed adequate hitting ability and defensive versatility this past season and could be a valuable depth piece going forward.
Bryan Ramos, INF
Another solid international find, Ramos is able to play both 2B and 3B and possesses above-average raw power.
Yolbert Sanchez, INF
Sanchez was always seen as a defense-first middle infielder, however, it was his .308 BA and 9 home runs in 99 games between High-A and Double-A that stood out for him this season.
Luis Mieses, OF
An underrated name in the Sox system, Mieses possesses solid raw power from the left side of the plate.
Tanner McDougal, RHP
A prep arm with high velocity and elite spin rates, but unfortunately he fell victim to a UCL injury that required Tommy John Surgery. He will be a name to watch after his recovery.
Jimmy Lambert, RHP
Jimmy Lambert has provided valuable depth to the White Sox, but it remains to be seen if he can stick in an MLB rotation.
Jonathan Stiever, RHP
Similarly to Lambert, he has yet to take the next step to establish himself as an MLB starting pitcher.
Cristian Mena, RHP
It is too early to tell if Mena will develop into anything, however, he does possess premium swing and miss ability.
Soon to be in the Mix
Oscar Colas (Rumored), OF
Colas could potentially be the White Sox top-rated prospect by mid-season. While the “Cuban Ohtani” projections are not realistic as he undoubtedly will give up pitching if/when he enters the White Sox system, he has all-star potential as a left-handed power-hitting corner outfielder.
Erick Hernandez (Rumored), OF
A 16-year-old left-handed outfielder, Hernandez could have as loud of tools as anyone in the Sox system. He will be a name to keep an eye on over the next few years.
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