A Minor Review of 2008: The White Sox

The Graduate: Alexei Ramirez | Born: September 1981 | Infielder

Signed this past winter after leaving Cuba, Alexei Ramirez had an up-and-down season after surprising everyone – including the White Sox – by making the club out of spring training. He hit .290/.317/.475 with 21 homers in 480 at-bats. The wiry infielder also drove in 77 runs. Ramirez needs to work on his patience and pitch selection as he posted rates of 3.6 BB% and 12.7 K%. He also needs to work on his base stealing after getting caught nine times in 22 attempts.

The Riser: John Ely | Born: May 1986 | Right-Handed Pitcher

After making his 2007 debut in Rookie Ball, the former third round pick out of Miami-Ohio University skipped two levels and pitched in High-A ball in 2008 with success. In 145.1 innings, John Ely allowed 142 hits and posted rates of 2.85 BB/9 and 8.30 K/9. Like a lot of young players, Ely struggles with consistency and had two really bad months, including July when he posted a 9.67 ERA and allowed 35 hits and 15 walks in 22.1 innings. He gets a lot of movement on his pitches and his best offerings include a low-90s fastball and a plus change-up.

The Tumbler: Jack Egbert | Born: May 1983 | Right-Handed Pitcher

The 2008 season was supposed to be a big one for Jack Egbert, who had been proving people wrong for a number of seasons. But the right-hander with a high-80s fastball (as well as a solid breaking ball and change-up) struggled at Triple-A and saw his HR/9 rate jump from 0.13 in 2006 and 0.17 in 2007 to 1.04 in 2008. His posted rates were still solid at 2.85 BB/9 and 8.12 K/9, although the strikeouts fell off about 1.00 K/9 from 2007. Already 25, Egbert needs a fast start to 2009 to prove he can remain in the starting rotation.

The ’08 Draft Pick: Jordan Danks | Born: August 1986 | Outfielder

Jordan Danks could have been a first or second round pick coming out of high school, but he sent a letter to every club stating that he was 100 percent committed to playing for the University of Texas. Regardless, Chicago drafted him in the 19th round but failed to sign him. Four years later, with Danks’ draft status having taken a hit with a modest college career, he was again selected by the White Sox. He came to terms with the club as a seventh round selection and joined his brother John as a White Sox player. Danks posted solid numbers in his debut, albeit in just 10 games. He is loaded with athletic gifts but scouts question his ability to hit good pitching.

The ’09 Sleeper: Aaron Poreda | Born: October 1986 | Left-Handed Pitcher

Aaron Poreda was drafted 25th overall in the 2007 draft, after a solid college career at the University of San Francisco. The 6’6” left can dial his fastball up into the mid-90s, but his secondary pitches are still lacking. He posted solid numbers in his first full pro season despite having just one consistently-dominating pitch. In 161 innings combined between High-A and Double-A, Poreda allowed 148 hits, showed better than expected control with 40 walks (2.26 BB/9) and struck out fewer than expected batters with 118 Ks (7.39 K/9). On the positive side, his strikeout rate climbed significantly in Double-A (almost 2.00 K/9). If he can consistently throw strikes with his slider – look out.

Up Next: The Cincinnati Reds

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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