As we close in on the halfway point of the season, we take a look at the farm system of the Chicago White Sox, who came into the season widely regarded as having the worst collection of prospects in the league. While this was due to a plethora of recent prospect graduations after a multi-year rebuild, they still had work to do in terms of replenishing their minor league system.
Finally, we have the top half of the White Sox top 30 prospect list. Despite being regarded as one of the worst farm systems in the MLB, the White Sox have a lot of talent in this list of prospects. Some of these prospects made adjustments that allowed them to tap into their true talent, while others are just getting the opportunity to show talent evaluators just how good they really are.
Before starting, make sure to check out the honorable mentions and the #16-30 prospects in the system!
15. Carlos Perez C
Carlos Perez appears to be the total package as a catcher, as he has above-average abilities behind the plate while proving to be a more than capable hitter. While he was much more contact-oriented for most of his minor league career, he broke out with a power surge in 2021, and that has carried into this season at Triple-A Charlotte. With an ability to contribute in multiple ways, some might speculate if he is the best option to be the backup behind Yasmani Grandal right now.
14. Jared Kelley SP
Expectations were sky-high for Jared Kelley when he was drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft, but injuries and control issues have left viewers underwhelmed so far. There is still time to right the ship, as Kelley is only 20 years old and still possesses an upper 90’s fastball that he pairs with a highly regarded change-up. The 6’4 230lb right-hander has plenty of upside; he just needs to stay healthy to tap into it.
13. Matthew Thompson SP
Similar to Jared Kelley, Matthew Thompson hasn’t quite lived up to some lofty expectations as a high-upside prep pitcher drafted in the second round. Thompson, however, has shown some recent signs that he is starting to right the ship, as he has started to show some more consistency on the mound. This season, he has a 4.35 ERA with 65 strikeouts and only 24 walks in just over 70 innings. There is still progress to be made, but lowering his walk rate has been a positive sign for the young right-hander.
12. Yolbert Sanchez INF
Yolbert Sanchez pretty much is what he is at this point in his minor league career. He is a contact-oriented infielder who can fill in at multiple positions. Comparisons to Leury Garcia are natural here, as Sanchez could make a career for himself as a utility man in the MLB. He is probably ready to contribute as a bench player in the majors right now, but his upside will always be limited.
11. Sean Burke SP
The White Sox have been aggressive with Sean Burke’s development plan, as he was promoted to Double-A Birmingham less than a year after drafting him in the third round of the 2021 draft. He has struggled a bit against the more advanced competition; however, his first full professional season should be seen as successful. He has proven that he has true strikeout ability, however, it’s his walk rate that is hindering him. If he can learn to control his pitches better, he can reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
10. Davis Martin SP
What a season it has been for Davis Martin. Coming into this season as a relatively unknown commodity, Martin has put his name on the map. After impressing at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Martin earned a chance to prove himself at the MLB level. He rewarded the Sox for giving him that opportunity with several successful outings and will likely be the next man up when they need a spot start.
Martin has a full arsenal of pitches that allows him to be successful. He sits around the mid-90s with his fastball, uses a slider with plenty of bite, and can also mix in a usable curveball and changeup. With the way he has performed this season, Martin should be looked at as the early favorite to earn the fifth starter spot in the rotation in 2023.
9. Jose Rodriguez 2B/SS
Jose Rodriguez’s season has been a bit underwhelming after his breakout season in 2021 which saw him excel at both the Low-A and High-A levels and earn a promotion to Double-A Birmingham at just 20 years old. He hasn’t exactly been overmatched; however, he hasn’t been able to square up the ball as well as he had previously against more advanced pitching. After hitting 14 home runs total in 2021, he has only hit 1 this season, although he does have 21 stolen bases. If he can regain some of his power, then he will prove to be a much more impactful hitter.
8. Yoelqui Cespedes OF
Cespedes came into the White Sox organization with a lot expected of him, being the younger half-brother of former All-Star Yoenis Cespedes. While he still has some work to do at the plate, he has been a solid player overall in the minors. Playing mostly CF, he seems to have handled himself well so far, although he profiles better at a corner outfield spot, with a cannon of an arm to handle right field just fine. He has shown flashes of plus power at the plate, although he is still working on his bat-to-ball skills. He has at least average tools across the board, but his ability to remain consistent at the plate will determine if he can reach his ceiling as an MLB regular.
7. Wes Kath 3B
Strikeouts are the only thing holding Wes Kath back at this point. After an ugly start to the season, Kath has steadily improved at the plate and has established himself as arguably the best hitter on the Low-A Kannapolis roster since Montgomery’s promotion. He has plus power at the plate and a patient approach that allows him to draw plenty of walks. On the defensive side, after playing mostly shortstop in high school, the Sox have transitioned him full-time to 3B, where he has a chance to be above average. Overall, he has been a very productive player this year, but he needs to cut his 33% strikeout rate down if that is to continue as he progresses through the minor league system.
6. Cristian Mena SP
Cristian Mena might be my favorite player to keep track of in this organization. Making his professional debut last year as an 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic, the Sox had him skip the Dominican Summer League and sent him stateside to the Arizona Complex League. While he struggled to keep runs off the board with a 7.82 ERA, he put up very good strikeout numbers and showed better than expected control, so the Sox continued to be aggressive and promoted him to Low-A Kannapolis to start 2022.
Mena rewarded that aggressive approach with a 2.68 ERA and 66 strikeouts through 53.2 IP at that level. With that level of success, the Sox continued their aggressive approach and promoted him to High-A Winston Salem at just 19 years old. Topping out at 95 mph with his fastball and featuring a plus curveball, along with an at least usable slider and changeup, Mena is putting himself in the conversation to be the best pitching prospect in the White Sox farm system.
5. Bryan Ramos 3B
Bryan Ramos has cooled off a bit after a scorching hot start in April, however, he is still putting together a very good breakout season in High-A Winston Salem. He has shown a well-rounded approach at the plate, where he is hitting for power while drawing a solid amount of walks and limiting his strikeout rate to just 15%. While he has played some 2B, he profiles best as a 3B, where his athleticism and strong arm should allow him to be an above-average defender. He has been streaky so far this season, but he has made it clear that he has a ton of talent to work with.
4. Norge Vera RHP
In a very short time (and due to a lack of competition), Norge Vera has established himself as the consensus top pitching prospect in the White Sox organization. He was the top pitcher available in the 2020 international signing class and commanded a $1.5 million signing bonus. While tax laws prevented him from debuting stateside in 2021, he spent the season dominating the less advanced competition in the Dominican Summer League with 34 strikeouts in 19 innings while not allowing a single run.
While things haven’t been quite as easy this season for him in Low-A Kannapolis, he still holds a very respectable sub-3.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings. Vera’s calling card is his fastball, which can touch triple digits, but he also features a curveball and a changeup which both can be above-average offerings. His ability to command his pitches will determine how far he can go, but he has a tremendous amount of talent, and the sky is the limit for him.
3. Oscar Colas OF
Seen by many as the prize of the 2021 international signing class, Oscar Colas had already been connected to the White Sox for a couple of years prior and finally signed a contract with them in January of 2022. Colas likely has the biggest power potential in the White Sox minor league system, and his plus arm strength allows him to profile seamlessly in right field (although the Sox have allowed him to try to stick as a center fielder).
While Colas is 23, he is still brushing some rust off after being out of baseball action since 2019. That makes his above .300 batting average in High-A Winston Salem even more impressive, and he has seemed to tap in more to his raw power as he has continued to get his feel at the plate back. He will likely end up at Double-A at some point this season, and the White Sox are hoping he can eventually be the lefty power-hitting right fielder they have been looking to acquire for years.
2. Lenyn Sosa SS
While there have been several breakout performers in the White Sox farm system, none has been more impressive than Lenyn Sosa. The 22-year-old shortstop began this season in Double-A Birmingham, and all he did was put up a .331 batting average with 14 home runs and a .933 OPS. He impressed the team’s decision-makers so much that he earned a brief stint with the White Sox while they were dealing with some injuries.
Now getting consistent at bats in Triple-A Charlotte, Sosa figures to be in line to be the team’s long-term solution at 2B. While he doesn’t have the most range, he makes up for it with sound footwork and soft hands. His hand-eye coordination at the plate has always been off the charts, but this season he has made some adjustments with his swing and has unlocked plus power potential. It is a shame the Sox didn’t allow him time to adjust to MLB pitching before sending him back down, but there is little doubt that he will be back in the majors soon.
1. Colson Montgomery SS
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, as Colson Montgomery is the clear-cut top prospect in the White Sox organization and likely a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. Despite being openly interested in Montgomery, he still fell all the way to pick 22, where the Sox were thrilled to draft him and sign him to a full slot $3.027 signing bonus.
While many have projected a move to 3B or the outfield due to his size, the Sox are allowing Montgomery a chance to stick at shortstop, where his athleticism and plus arm should play just fine. His abilities at the plate are what the White Sox are excited about, though, as he has a chance to hit for both average and power, and his advanced approach at the plate gives him a higher floor than many who are drafted out of high school.
It was clear why the Sox were so high on Montgomery heading into the draft, but even so, he has exceeded all expectations heading into this season. Despite dealing with a hand injury early in the season, Montgomery put up a .324/.424/.476 slash line and earned a well-deserved promotion to High-A Winston Salem, where he hit the ground running. While he hasn’t put up eye-popping power numbers quite yet – the hand injury could partially explain that – the home runs have been coming more as the season has gone on. He has hit plenty of extra-base hits, though, and his tremendous walk rate and surprisingly low strikeout rate allow him to make an impact at the plate in multiple ways. As if this wasn’t all impressive enough, Montgomery currently has a 42-game on-base streak between Low-A and High-A, and he has reached base in 52 of the 55 games he has played this season. Montgomery gives White Sox fans plenty to be excited about for the future.
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Featured Image: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports