On Tuesday night, the Chicago White Sox traded Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the Los Angeles Angels for Edgar Quero and Ky Bush. Putting aside what the trade means for the direction of the White Sox or how much Lucas Giolito meant to the franchise (more on these topics to come), the return of Quero and Bush is very notable.
Nationally, pundits and fans seem to agree that the trade is either a win-win for the White Sox and Angels, or even a slight overpay by the Angels in terms of prospect capital. Quero, the headliner of the deal, is universally ranked as a top-100 prospect in baseball (anywhere from #37 to #85 depending on the source). Bush, a second-round draft pick in 2021, posted strong numbers in AA in 2022 prior to an injury-plagued 2023.
On paper, this is a solid return for two months of Giolito and Lopez. Even in a seller’s market, the best-case scenario price for Lucas Giolito appeared to be a backend top-100 prospect. Perhaps thanks to the addition of Lopez, the White Sox secured a player who by some outlets is closer to a top-50 prospect. Now, let’s get into the specifics of how these players could help the White Sox in the coming years.
Edgar Quero is an acclaimed, switch-hitting catching prospect whose 2023 raw numbers may not immediately jump out. However, a closer look at his profile explains his highly regarded status. For example, Quero is only 20 years old — he actually turned 20 in April, which means that he began the 2023 season as a 19-year-old in AA. This is an achievement in itself — both because it is unusual for such young players to begin a season in AA (22-to-24 is a more typical range), and because catchers in particular are often promoted less aggressively than other positions due to the sheer amount of defensive development necessary.
Quero began his professional career in 2021 as an 18-year-old in rookie ball (the average age for his league was approximately 20, so he was again young for the level). While he only played in 29 games, Quero quickly commanded attention from scouts, publications, and prospect nerds. Across 116 plate appearances, Quero hit .253/.440/.506 (.945 OPS, 151 wRC+) with 4 home runs and 24 runs batted in. The performance, of course, bolstered by the impressive .440 on-base percentage, earned Quero a cup of coffee (10 games) in full-season ball.
2022 was the real breakout year for Quero. At single-A, where he was still over two years younger than the average position player, he hit .312/.435/.530 (.965 OPS, 150 wRC+) with 17 home runs and 75 runs batted in across 111 games and 513 plate appearances. Quero’s 14.2% walk rate and 17.7% strikeout rate, especially considering his age, were extremely impressive.
In 2023, the Angels decided to have Quero skip advanced-A and head straight to AA. This move was, and still is, a bit puzzling. Quero may have been ready for a promotion to advanced-A at some point in 2022, but skipping the level altogether is asking a lot of a player who is already so young for his level. Moreover, the Southern League (where Quero plays his AA games) has been using an experimental, stickier baseball in 2023 that has hindered offense league-wide. These facts should not be lost when evaluating Quero’s 2022 performance at the plate.
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, Quero has held his own against AA pitching. While he has not hit for power, his .245/.385/.332 slash line implies that plate discipline is still a major strength. In fact, despite skipping a full level of minor league baseball, Quero’s walk and strikeout rates — 17.0% and 16.7%, respectively — have both improved. He is walking more than he strikes out, and even though his power has been significantly reduced, it is safe to assume that it will return to some extent with more seasoning and a normal baseball. It seems as though Quero’s decreased power was the primary drawback of the Angels’ decision to have him skip advanced-A.
As for defense, Fangraphs has indicated that Quero is a bat-first prospect, but that this is expected given his age.
“At his age, Quero’s defense is good enough to project him as a viable defender behind the plate. He’s a heavy-handed receiver and an uncoordinated ball-blocker with an average arm that you could argue plays up because of how accurate he tends to be (his stroke is short and consistent). These issues will prevent Quero from having an O’Hoppe-paced rise, but they aren’t much worse than what’s typical for any 20-year-old catching prospect and likely aren’t long-term barriers to him playing the position.”–Fangraphs
While scouts have also mentioned that Quero’s receiving has improved this season, it is surprising that White Sox general manager Rick Hahn suggested that Quero could make an impact for the MLB club in 2024. Considering Quero is still only 20 years old and performing adequately (but not at his torrid 2022 level), a jump to facing MLB pitching in just one year seems steep. Not to mention, as his defense is still developing, counting on Quero for MLB-caliber defense so soon would be asking quite a lot, even if he has a strong 2024 season in the minor leagues.
Regardless of his potential timeline, Edgar Quero is a massive addition to the White Sox farm system. His on-base skills and patient profile are desperately needed in Chicago, and should his defense continue developing, he will represent the organization’s best chance at stability at the catcher position in quite some time.
Ky Bush is a left-handed pitcher who, at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, is coincidentally the same size as the outgoing Lucas Giolito (who is listed at 245 pounds, which is close enough). From a scouting standpoint, here is what Baseball America has to say about the tall left-hander:
“Bush is a big, hulking lefthander at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. His four-pitch mix is headlined by an above-average fastball that sits 93-94 mph and touches 96 with sinking action out of his high, three-quarters arm slot. His best secondary offering is a sharp, plus slider in the mid 80s with a late vertical break that gets swings and misses. Bush manipulates the speed and break of his slider and uses it best going down and away from lefthanded hitters and to the back foot of righthanded ones. Bush can generate swings and misses with his fringy, slow curveball and he has a feel for an average, fading changeup, but both remain inconsistent. He is a sneaky-good athlete given his large frame and throws strikes with average control out of repeatable delivery.”– Baseball America
Bush profiles as either a reliever or a backend starting pitcher. His 2022 season, which was his first full year after being drafted, was quite strong. As a 22-year-old in AA, Bush fired 103 innings of 3.67 ERA ball. He compiled 101 strikeouts against just 29 walks. It is always a good sign when a starting pitcher who is young for his level (the average AA pitcher in 2022 was 24.5 years old) can maintain low walk rates, so Bush’s 6.8% clip is encouraging.
Bush’s 2023 season has been marred by an oblique injury. He is now at AA again, which is somewhat surprising given his very strong 2022 season at the same level and the Angels’ penchant for aggressively promoting prospects. However, it could simply be a case of the Angels not wanting to throw too many challenges at a player who is recovering from injury.
Bush has only thrown 26 innings at a 5.88 ERA as he works his way back from the oblique injury, but the hope for the White Sox is that the healthy, 2022 version of Bush can reemerge as a viable #4 or #5 starter option in the next couple of years. If not, Bush’s floor should be a reliever that at least reaches MLB, given his historical success at AA at a young age.
Together, Edgar Quero and Ky Bush represent the dawn of a new era for the White Sox. Whatever this next period may bring, the return of these prospects for two months of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez is very solid. Quero could easily be the team’s starting catcher for the remainder of the 2020s, and if Bush can return to his pre-injury form, he will add pitching depth to an organization in dire need of innings eaters.
Giolito and Lopez figure to be the first of many White Sox players to be traded in the next several days, so stay tuned for more coverage on the prospects that are joining the team’s farm system.
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