A Minor Review of ’09: Chicago White Sox

Prospect ranking season is here. Top 10 lists will be arriving shortly and in preparation for that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The series is back for a second year.

Chicago White Sox

The Graduate: Gordon Beckham, SS/3B
Despite beginning ’09 in double-A, Beckham made a solid run at the Rookie of the Year award in the American League. The shortstop-turned-third baseman hit .270/.347/.460 with an ISO of .190 in 378 at-bats. The right-handed hitter showed a respectable walk rate at 9.8 BB% and a solid strikeout rate at 17.2 K%. Impressively, he did a nice job handling breaking balls as a rookie. Beckham struggled a little bit in the field at third base, but he showed good value with his bat and posted a 2.1 WAR. He could move back to shortstop in 2010.

The Riser: Santos Rodriguez, LHP
Obtained from the Braves in the Javier Vazquez deal, Rodriguez could turn out to be a steal. The hard-throwing reliever has a 90-95 mph fastball, as well as a slider and change-up. In ’09, he allowed just 18 hits in 27 innings of work in rookie ball. The 21-year-old was old for the league but he got three games of experience in low-A ball before the year ended. He needs to improve his control after posting a walk rate of 5.67 BB/9 but his strikeout rate was excellent at 14.00 K/9.

The Tumbler: John Shelby Jr., OF
A former infielder, Shelby has made a successful conversion to the outfield but his bat has taken a step back. He hit just .243/.323/.402 in 428 double-A at-bats. He did show some power with an ISO of .159 (down from .215 in ’08). Shelby Jr. also has some speed and he swiped 30 bases in 39 attempts. He made some strides in his walk rate, which rose from 4.7 to 10.3 BB%. It wasn’t a terrible year for Shelby Jr. but he took hits in both his power and his on-base numbers; he needs to get on-base more consistently to take advantage of his speed. At 24 years of age, time is not on his side.

The ’10 Sleeper: Brent Morel, 3B
With Beckham playing the hot corner in the Majors and prospect C.J. Retherford continuing to perform better than expected, the White Sox suddenly have a lot of depth at the position. Toss in Morel and you can begin to forget the disaster that was Josh Fields. The right-handed hitting Morel had a nice year at high-A in ’09 by hitting .281/.335/.453 in 481 at-bats. He posted an ISO of .173 and stole 25 bases in 34 attempts, giving hope that he could one day become a 15-15 player at the MLB level. Morel will probably never show 20+ home run power consistently but he could develop into a solid Bill Mueller type third baseman.

Bonus: Aaron Poreda, LHP
In the ’08 series, this former No. 1 draft pick was highlighted for a breakout in ’09. Instead, the left-hander had an up-and-down year that saw him make his MLB debut and get traded to the San Diego Padres. Poreda struggled with his control in 14 big league games, and posted a walk rate of 8.78 BB/9. Despite pitching as a starter in the minors, all of his appearances came in relief for both the White Sox and Padres. He’s probably better suited to working out of the bullpen going forward, in the hopes that he’ll become more consistent. It will also allow him to focus on his fastball, which is his best pitch.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

11 Responses to “A Minor Review of ’09: Chicago White Sox”

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  1. blakjakk says:

    Beckham will now be playing 2nd. He should be a premium bat at that position as well.

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  2. Part-Time Pariah says:

    why is poreda even mentioned?

    i’m fucking excited about retherford and rodriguez. can’t wait to see what hudson can do.

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  3. Realist says:

    Not to hijack this thread, but I’d love the Sox to go after Adrian Beltre. He’d be an adequate replacement for Dye’s bat and the best defender in arguably the majors’ worst defensive infield. I don’t think anyone would lose sleep over dunking Teahan in the outfield vs. inserting him at 3B, either.

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    • Realist says:

      And I forgot to mention that neither Morel nor Retherford nor Jon Gilmore, for that matter, excite me enough to stray from offering an older player a multiyear deal.

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    • MikeS says:

      I think the White Sox have a little flexibility now in terms of free agent signings. If they find a 3B (I’ll take one Chone Figgins please), then Teahan can play the outfield as badly as he can play third. If they find a RF, Teahan plays third. If they land a CF (no thank you, Mr Podsednik), they can put Rios in right. Kotsay can play if they land nobody. They don’t have to get into a bidding war and have a little leverage in negotiations. It’s not a terrible position to be in.

      The problem is this plan still has Teahan and Kotsay hitting alot which is suboptimal.

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    • JD says:

      The White Sox seem to think Teahen is a plus defensive 3B. They’ve even got Steve Stone calling him a good defensive player. I really wonder what this team uses to evaluate players sometimes.

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  4. MikeS says:

    “…the disaster that was Josh Fields.” I seem to remember a post around here not that long ago about how trading Fields away was a bad thing. Sure, the point was about the money involved more than the below average players but this still amuses me.

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    • JD says:

      Two people who work for the same site can’t disagree on the future of a relatively young player? I’d much rather see the occasional disagreement than everybody always agreeing.

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  5. agassi's undies says:

    sox will get one (and possibly 2 if they move jenks) of:

    in decreasing order of probability

    DH Thome
    LF Byrd
    3B Beltre
    3B Figgins
    OF Crisp
    OF Cameron
    DH Matsui
    LF/DH Damon

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