With the MLB Draft and the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, it is time to look back at the White Sox farm system and do a mid-season reranking of their top 30 prospects!
This season, the White Sox have infused their organization with a plethora of new young talent through both trades and draft picks. While all of us Sox fans can agree that this is not the position we thought we would be in a few years ago, the Front Office took a step in the right direction by selling off some expiring contracts in exchange for prospects with the potential to make a positive impact n this roster down the road.
This year, Sox on 35th’s own Michael Suareo and Thatcher Zalewski each mocked up their own top 30 prospect lists, while also identifying other prospects who deserved a mention despite missing the cut. They then combined each of their lists to come up with one consensus ranking.
First up, we will cover those prospects who deserve recognition but did not make the cut in the consensus rankings. This group of prospects is comprised of prospects who were toward the bottom of the rankings before new additions were brought in, prospects whose ceilings are low but could provide valuable depth in the near future, and prospects who have plenty of potential, but are still too early in their careers to get a firm grasp on their actual future outlook.
A relative unknown coming into this season, all Stiven Flores has done is hold a batting average over .400 and earn a spot on the Dominican Summer League All-Star team. Signed for $250,000 in the 2023 international signing period, Flores is viewed by scouts as a bat-first catching prospect with plenty of raw power from the right side of the plate, while that raw power hasn’t turned into in-game power quite yet, his bat-to-ball skills have been better than advertised with a high batting average and a minuscule strikeout rate that sits under 4%. He also has drawn a fair share of walks, leading to an impressive overall profile at the plate. Just 17 years old, he will have a chance to skyrocket up the rankings when he makes his stateside debut.
Hernandez put himself on the map last season in the Dominican Summer League, posting a 136 wRC+ with six home runs and a 15% walk rate, with his strikeout rate being only slightly higher at 17.5%. He also showed off plenty of defensive value with his arm, throwing out 51% of opposing base stealers.
Making his stateside debut this year, Hernandez has been able to sustain his offensive production for the most part. His power numbers have taken a bit of a dip, but his batting average has also jumped above .300 so far on the season. While it is still very early in his career, Hernandez has shown the potential to make an impact both at and behind the plate.
One prospect who has made a name for himself amongst White Sox fans this year is first baseman, Tim Elko. Elko is an older prospect at 24 years old but has mashed at every level in the minors so far this year, slugging 22 home runs across three levels. If Elko continues to hit in Double-A, then he very well could end up in the top 30.
The White Sox signed Chapelli out of Cuba back in last year’s international pool, and he raked against the competition in the Dominican Summer League. He hit eight home runs in 46 games with a slash line of .344/.448/.636 with 27 walks and 22 strikeouts. Chapelli gets the honorable mention due to that slash line just not quite translating to Winston-Salem yet. He isn’t having a bad year but has slowed down compared to what he did in the DSL. In Winston-Salem this year he is slashing .237/.343/.385 with eight home runs in 84 games.
Ryan Castillo is only 18 years old but he is a name White Sox fans should start to get familiar with. Castillo is currently playing in the Dominican Summer League but is having a great year. He is currently batting .273/.381/.455 with four home runs. Castillo is a left-handed bat who will most likely come stateside next year and could end up in our top 30 at this time next year.
As a switch hitter who can play all over the field, Brooks Baldwin has a real shot at carving out a career as a utility man at the major-league level. While he has had an extremely successful first full professional season so far, where he has held a 122 wRC+ and 10 home runs with the Kannapolis Cannnballers, he is a bit advanced for the Low-A level. He did finally receive a promotion to High-A Winston Salem, so if he continues his success evaluators might start putting more stock into Baldwin becoming a legitimate future contributor.
There is very little, if any, development left for Yolbert Sanchez to accomplish in the minor leagues. At this point, we know what he is, and while he isn’t likely a big-league regular, he has enough going for him to bring value off the bench to a contending baseball team in the future.
He will never provide much in the power department, however, he has solid bat-to-ball skills and limits his strikeouts. Defensively, scouts thought he could handle playing middle infield when the Sox initially signed him back in 2019, and he has experience playing second base, shortstop, and third base. Leury Garcia is a practical player comp for him, and while that might not get White Sox fans very excited, it would still be a win to develop Sanchez into an MLB contributor like that.
What was once seen as an exciting, high-upside use of a second-round pick has quickly turned into an extremely disappointing early career for Wes Kath. Still only 21 years old, Kath still has time on his side and all the talent to right the ship, however, he will have to figure out his strikeout how to limit his strikeout rate, which currently sits over 40%. Kath still possesses raw power from the left side of the plate but has not been able to consistently make enough contact to tap into it. His pedigree as an over-slot second-round pick will give him a bit more time to figure it out, but time is running out for the once-promising prospect.
Mieses was productive when sent to Birmingham last year as part of Project Birmingham, hitting .299/.333/.443 with three home runs. However, Mieses hasn’t been nearly as impactful of a hitter in 2023 and is still just an average defender in right field.
Erick Hernandez was one of the White Sox’s big international signings in 2022 alongside Oscar Colas. Hernandez received early comparisons to Juan Soto, but he hasn’t quite lived up to those comparisons yet. He struggled in the Dominican Summer League last year, only hitting .227/.333/.291 with no home runs in 38 games, although nagging injuries were thought to be part of the reason for his underwhelming performance. Hernandez is now stateside playing in the Arizona Complex League and he still unfortunately hasn’t found his stride. He is currently hitting .161/.230/.232 and has still yet to hit his first professional home run. Hernandez is still only 18 so there is still plenty of time for him to live up to the lofty expectations set for him early on.
Formerly MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked international prospect, Cespedes has failed to live up to the expectations set by his prospect pedigree and his last name. While he was still at least a replacement-level hitter with added defensive value in past seasons, his offensive production has taken a dip in his third season at the Double-A level. At 25 years old, time is running out for Cespedes to prove he can even be a fourth outfielder at the MLB level.
Christian Oppor was drafted in the fifth round by the White Sox and at only 19 years old he has a lot of upside. The White Sox reportedly had an agreement with Oppor last year, but the A’s snatched him up before the Sox had a chance to draft him. He was once the top arm in the state of Wisconsin and now is in Arizona pitching for the Complex League. He has currently logged four innings and has blanked opposing hitters so far. He has six strikeouts and only allowed four total hits. Oppor is another guy who could potentially crack the top 30 this time next year.
Another 2023 draft pick, this time its 12th rounder Mathias LaCombe. LaCombe is out of France and pitched for Team France in the World Baseball Classic this year, pitching one inning where he struck out two and gave up one run. LaCombe is 21 years old and this past spring he posted a 1.74 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched and struck out 97 batters while only walking 14. LaCombe has yet to make his stateside debut but will most likely do so in 2024.
Tyler Schweitzer was a fifth-round pick by the White Sox last year and has performed well in his pro ball season debut. He has earned himself a promotion to Winston-Salem after posting a 7-2 record with a 3.86 ERA and struck out 76 batters in 67.2 innings pitched with the Cannon Ballers. Schweitzer is 22 years old and so far in five starts has posted a 3.74 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched in Winston-Salem.
Kohl Simas was one of the biggest risers in the White Sox farm system in 2022. An undrafted free agent signing back in 2020, Simas blew away expectations in his first two professional seasons. Last season, he held a 3.65 ERA with a K/9 rate over 11 in Low-A Kannapolis. He was promoted to High-A Winston Salem to begin 2023, and while the strikeout numbers are still there, his ERA has skyrocketed. His fielding independent (FIP) numbers show that he is dealing with some bad luck, but overall it is clear he has taken a step back this season. He still has promising whiff ability and can develop into a back-end/swingman type of pitcher, but he still has some room to grow.
As a 14th-round pick from the 2022 draft class, Shane Murphy has had an exceptional start to his professional career. He didn’t pitch much last year, but so far in 2023, he has been able to keep his ERA in the low 3’s while averaging just over 9 K/9 while limiting his walks. He is already 22, so he is a bit advanced for the level, but if he can keep up his success when he is inevitably promoted, he could sneak into the top 30.
Mason Adams has gained a lot of fans in scouting circles recently, as he has been lights out for the Low-A Kannapolis Cannonballers in 2023. At that level, he held a 3.36 ERA with just under 11 K/9 and only allowed 18 walks in 77.2 innings. A 13th-round pick from Jacksonville, he. is already 23 years old and appeared to be more advanced than the competition at that level. The White Sox seem to agree, as he was just recently promoted to High-A Winston Salem. If he finishes the year with the same results at a tougher level, he will be getting much more consideration to crack the top 30 come the preseason.
Juan Carela was acquired from the New York Yankees in the Keynan Middleton trade. While this is seen as a smaller move compared to the other trades the Sox made this season, Carela should not be overlooked. This season with the Yankees High-A affiliate, Carela posted an 11.77 K/9 rate and held a 3.67 ERA. At 21 years old, he is definitely age appropriate for the level, maybe even a bit younger, but has had no issues missing bats and limiting opposing lineups. His velocity is a bit of a concern, topping out at around 93, and his stuff overall isn’t seen as overwhelming, but so far he has been able to be very successful with what he has.
Luis Reyes was the prize of the White Sox 2023 international signing class. Ranked 41st in MLB Pipeline’s top international prospects, Reyes was inked to a $700,000 signing bonus, tied for the largest in the Sox 2023 class. The 6’3 right-handed pitcher got off to a rough start this season in the DSL but has looked much more like what the White Sox envisioned him to be since the end of June. He has been able to miss plenty of bats with his plus fastball and promising secondary pitches, and while he has struggled with walks, he has a smooth delivery that he should be able to repeat well and hone in his command.
There are very few pitchers in this entire organization that possess the pure stuff that Adler brings to the mound. His arsenal includes an upper 90’s fastball and both a curveball and slider that are plus when he is able to command them. Command is the question with Adler, however, as he struggled with walks in college. Since turning pro, he has appeared to clean up some of those issues, and while he can stand to limit his walks further still, he has honed it in to the point where he has been an effective relief pitcher who generates plenty of strikeouts. If he continues to develop on this trajectory, he has high leverage, maybe even closer, potential.
Make sure to stay tuned for the Top 30 throughout this week!
Featured Image: Kannapolis Cannon Ballers / Twitter