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Where are White Sox’s Top 15 prospects from 2017 today?

by Tommy Gross

I saw a couple of tweets recently about teams looking back at their top prospects from about five years ago and answering the age-old question: where are they now? I thought this would be even more interesting for the White Sox. With how poor the 2024 season has started for the South Siders, it seems fair to final wave the white flag on the 2016–2020 rebuild.

It was a period of a lot of optimism for us White Sox fans. The farm system was one of the best in the MLB and it looked like the Sox had a bright future ahead. In some ways, it didn’t fail completely, as they made the playoffs twice and had a nice 93-win season in 2021. For most, if not all of us, this was not enough to label it a successful rebuild. It was World Series or bust – or at least an appearance in the ALCS.

So, the questions still stand. What happened to the promising farm system of 2017? Where did everyone go? Today, I will look into the top 15 White Sox prospects in 2017 and answer that question.

Note: This list does not include notable prospects like Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, and Luis Robert Jr.. Jimenez and Cease were traded for during the 2017 season and Robert Jr. Signed in May of 2017 after the season started.


1. Yoan Moncada (2B)

Yoan Moncada was acquired from the Red Sox for Chris Sale in 2016. Before his debut, he was the number two prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com, and was considered to be the most promising player of the rebuild. He debuted with the team in 2017 and has been inconsistent since then.

In eight seasons, he has only had three “above average” hitting seasons based on wRC+. On the defense side, he has been above average since moving to third base with a career 11 OAA at that position. But being a good defensive third baseman is not the All-Star/MVP caliber play fans envisioned him to be. As of now, he is in the last year of his 5-year/$70 million contract and has just been put on the 60-day IL with a left adductor strain. He will be out for 3-6 months and even if he is able to come back this season, it will most likely be his last in a White Sox uniform.

2. Lucas Giolito (RHP)

Lucas Giolito was acquired a day after Yoan Moncada when the Sox sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals for Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning. Entering the 2017 season, Giolito was the 12th-best prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. He debuted in late 2017, appearing in 7 games, before following up 2017 with an abysmal 2018 season.

We all remember the “Believe You Will” commercials.

After that, Gio was fantastic for the White Sox. From 2019-2021, he had a 3.47 ERA (129 ERA+) and 526 strikeouts in 427.2 innings, receiving Cy Young votes each year. He slowed down a bit in 2022 with a forgettable 4.90 ERA. The Sox traded him at the deadline to the Los Angeles Angels with Reynaldo Lopez in 2023 for Ky Bush and Edgar Quero. Overall, at least I believe, Giolito was a great pitcher for the White Sox and lived up to his expectations.  As of now, Giolito pitches for the Red Sox and is expected to miss the entire 2024 season with UCL damage.

3. Michael Kopech (RHP)

Michael Kopech, with Moncada, was acquired in the Chris Sale trade in 2016. Going into the 2017 season, Kopech was listed as the #16 prospect according to MLB.com. He made his debut with the White Sox in late 2018. Unfortunately, Kopech would only pitch 14 innings that year as he left one start early due to arm soreness and later would have Tommy John Surgery. This caused him to miss the rest of the 2018 season as well as the 2019 season. We wouldn’t see Kopech again until 2021 after he opted out of the 2020 season.

After a solid year in the bullpen during 2021, he moved to the starting rotation for the 2022 season. In 2022, he started 25 games, pitching 119.1 innings with a 3.54 ERA. He took a step back in 2023 with a 5.43 ERA in 30 games. As of now, Kopech is back in the bullpen as the closer for the White Sox and has had a promising start in that position so far.

4. Reynaldo Lopez (RHP)

Reynaldo Lopez was also acquired in the Adam Eaton trade in 2016. He was listed as the 45th-best prospect in baseball going into the 2017 season. He was a starting pitcher for the Sox from 2017-2020, where he 4.76 ERA over 81 games started. He moved to the bullpen in 2021 where he found major success, shifting his ERA to 3.14 and eventually becoming the closer for the White Sox.

He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels with Lucas Giolito, again. He would be placed on waivers after a tough start with the Angels and be picked up by the Cleveland Guardians, where he would reunite, yet again, with Lucas Giolito. In the 2024 offseason, he would be signed by the Atlanta Braves for three-years/$26 million where they moved him back to the starting rotation.

5. Carson Fulmer (RHP)

Okay, here is where we start to get into unfamiliar territory. Everybody I’ve mentioned so far is a familiar name, but some might have forgotten about Carson Fulmer. Fulmer was drafted eighth overall by the White Sox in the 2015 MLB out of Vanderbilt University. After posting a 4.76 ERA in Double-A Birmingham, he would be pulled up to make his MLB debut at 22 years old. He would then post an abysmal 8.49 ERA in eight appearances before being sent down to Triple-A Charlotte. From then on, he would bounce between Charlotte and Chicago, not really finding his footing before being designated for assignment in July of 2020. In 2020, he would pitch for the Tigers and the Orioles.

In 2021, Fulmer played in the Reds organization, bouncing between Triple-A and Cincinnati. In 2022, he played for the Dodgers Triple-A team after being picked in the MiLB Rule 5 draft. In 2023, Fulmer would get another stab at the majors and pitch 10 innings, giving up three runs with the Angels. As of now, Fulmer is still in MLB and pitching in the Angels bullpen.

6. Zack Collins (C)

Zack Collins was drafted 10th overall in the 2016 draft. After batting .282/.403/.548 in Triple-A, he would make his MLB debut with the White Sox in 2019. During his rookie season, he slashed .186/.307/.349 through 102 plate appearances. This would be as good as it got for Collins. He batted .199/.319/.322 through 2021 with his biggest White Sox career highlight being catching Carlos Rodon’s no-hitter.

He would be traded at the beginning of the 2022 season to the Blue Jays for Reese McGuire. From 2022-2023, he would take at-bats for the Blue Jays, Pirates, and Guardians, batting .168/.254/.327 between all three teams. He is currently a free agent.

7. Zack Burdi (RHP)

Zack Burdi was the other first-round draft pick in the 2016 draft, selected 26th overall. A hometown product from Downers Grove, IL, he was drafted out of the University of Louisville where he was their closer. Burdi would make his MLB debut in 2020, pitching a scoreless inning against the then-Cleveland Indians. He would pitch only 15.1 more innings for the White Sox before being designated for assignment a little over a year after his big-league debut.

He would then be picked up by the Baltimore Orioles organization two days later and only pitch one inning for their major league team. He spent 2022 with the Nationals Triple-A team and was picked up by the Rays in 2023. In three MLB appearances with the Rays, he allowed five earned runs and was designated for assignment shortly after. He finished the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A team and is currently a free agent.

8. Luis Alexander Basabe (OF)

Luis Alexander Basabe was acquired in the Chris Sale trade along with already mentioned Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada. From 2017-2019, Basabe struggled heavily throughout the minor league with the White Sox slashing .243/.334/.376 in 1,265 plate appearances between Double-A and High-A ball.

In 2020, he would be traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations. He would make his MLB debut that year, batting .143/.333/.143 in 18 plate appearances before being sent back down to Double-A. In 2022, he would rejoin the White Sox on a minor league deal with Triple-A Charlotte. He would bat a mere .080/.115/.160 in nine games before being released by the organization. He is still a free agent.

9. Alec Hansen (RHP)

Alec Hansen was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. During the 2016 season. Hansen would have a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings pitched with Single-A Kannapolis. He would start the next season at the same level, though quickly rose to Double-A Birmingham. He would finish off the year there with a 4.35 ERA in 10.1 innings.

Unfortunately, this is as high as he would go. From 2018-2021, He struggled heavily in Double-A with a 5.83 ERA in 108 innings pitched and was released by the organization. In January 2022, he retired from professional baseball.

10. Dane Dunning (RHP)

Dane Dunning was the last piece acquired in the Adam Eaton trade to the Washington Nationals along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Dunning would have a solid minor-league career with the White Sox, pitching to a 2.76 ERA in 271 innings. He would make his debut in 2020 after missing all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John Surgery. He would only pitch 34 innings, including 0.2 innings in the playoffs, in a White Sox uniform and be traded to the Texas Rangers for Lance Lynn during the 2020-2021 offseason.

Dunning has been consistent for the Rangers, pitching 443.2 innings over 3 years with a 4.18 ERA. Dunning would end up pitching in the World Series last year and win a ring with the Rangers. He is still in the starting rotation for the Texas Rangers.

11. Spencer Adams (RHP)

Spencer Adams was drafted in the second round out of White County High School in the 2014 MLB Draft. Adams came into the league and dominated rookie ball with 59 strikeouts in 41.2 innings at 18 years old. Unfortunately, his strikeout numbers would taper off when he reached higher levels in the minor leagues.

Even though he had a solid 3.93 ERA through his minor league career, and got as high as Triple-A, the low 6.4 K/9 and high 10.0 H/9 would hold him back and he was released from the organization in 2019.

12. Jordan Stephens (RHP)

Jordan Stephens was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Rice University. Similar to Spencer Adams, Stephens dominated rookie ball in a short 17.1 innings pitched there. Stephens would excel through the minor leagues, pitching 141 innings with a 3.45 ERA in High-A and eventually making his way up to Double-A Birmingham. He would pitch a full season in Double-A before being called up to Triple-A. Unfortunately, this is where his career would stall. In 2017 and 2018, Stephens pitched in Triple-A with a 6.43 ERA over 145 innings. He would then be picked up by the Cleveland Indians and struggle in their Triple-A organization as well. In 2022, he would sign with the Charleston Dirty Birds of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He became a free agent following that season.

13. Charlie Tilson (OF)

The New Trier kid, as Jason Benetti would often remind us. Tilson was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Zach Duke at the 2016 Trade Deadline. He would later be called up that year and make his major league debut with the White Sox. In his first game, he injured his hamstring, resulting in him missing the rest of the 2016 season. He would be out the whole 2017 season as well with an unrelated stress fracture injury in his foot. He would play two seasons for the White Sox in 2018 and 2019, slashing a .244/.309/.288 in 95 games, more known as a speed and defense player. He would be released from the organization in the 2019 offseason.

In 2020, Tilson would then be signed and released by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before ever playing a game due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He would spend 2021 between the Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican Baseball League and the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball before being picked up by the Phillies organization. He sashed .296/.255/.370 in Triple-A and would elect free agency the following year. In 2022, he played a season for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association before being released. Following the release, Tilson would enroll at Depaul University in Chicago where he is pursuing a degree in psychology.

14. Alex Call (OF)

Alex Call was selected in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He would spend 2017 and 2018 between the High-A and Double-A, batting .248/.337/.405 before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for Yonder Alonso. Call would excel through the minors and eventually make his major league debut in 2022. Coincidentally, he would get his first major league hit off of White Sox relief pitcher Tanner Banks. He appeared in 12 games before being designated for assignment. He would be claimed off waivers by the Washington Nationals, slashing .245/.330/.441 with the club. In 2023, Call would play in 128 games for the Nationals, hitting .200/.307/.307. Call was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to start the 2024 season.

15. Jameson Fisher (OF)

Fischer was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the White Sox. He would spend 2016 and 2017 between Rookie, Single-A, and High-A, and reach Double-A Birmingham in 2018. He would struggle in Double-A, batting .216/.321/.321 in 97 games. He would be sent back down to High-A for the 2019 season and slash a mundane .242/.343/.375 in a career-high 127 games. After the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fisher bounced back in 2021, batting .287/.359/.463 over 88 games in Double-A. In 2022, Fischer would start the season in Triple-A for the first time. Unfortunately, this is as far as he would go, as he batted .149/.245/.192 with no home runs in 14 games and was released by the organization in May of that year. Later that year, Fisher retired from professional baseball and joined Marucci as a lead lab technician and master bat fitter.


Overview

Thats it! These were the Top 15 prospects for the White Sox in 2017. Out of all 15, nine played in the majors for the White Sox and 11 reached the major league in general (Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe being the non-White Sox MLB players). Sadly, the White Sox have started another rebuild and as much as we want to believe that every prospect in the farm system will live up to the hype, that isn’t always the case. Hopefully, I can write an article similar to this in 10 years and write more success stories that involve more playoff wins rather than shortcomings. Thanks for reading as always.


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Featured Image: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Doug W

I would be interested in how the last 2 drafts (other than 1st round) will do in the future. Right now they look very good, but who knows.

Bob

It would be interesting to quantify how well the top 15 prospects for all the other teams did in this same period. Because that looks like some dismal drafting by the White Sox in the bottom 2/3 of this list.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bob

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