Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Prospects

General Manager: Kenny Williams
Farm Director: Buddy Bell
Scouting Director: Doug Laumann

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

The organization has some interesting names in the Top 10 but there are few “sure bets” and the depth in the system is seriously lacking. The club is going to have to replenish significantly before it can start shedding prospects in trades, once again. The ’09 draft did an OK, but not great, job of bringing in some fresh blood.

1. Tyler Flowers, C, Triple-A
DOB: January 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 33rd round – Chipola JC (Atlanta Braves)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2

Flowers should be ready to take over the full-time catching chores right around the time that veteran incumbent A.J. Pierzynski‘s contract runs out after 2010. The right-handed catching prospect has impressive power (.246 ISO in double-A) and he hasn’t hit below .279 in any season since 2006. Flowers began the year in double-A in ’09 and hit .302/.445/.548 in 248 at-bats, before moving up to triple-A where he hit .286/.364/.438 in 105 at-bats. He finished up his fine season with three hits in 16 big-league at-bats. The 23-year-old Flowers does have some warts, including a high strikeout rate, as well as below-average defense. He threw out 34% of base stealers in double-A, but that number slipped to 18% in triple-A. His overall offensive potential – especially the power – should off-set any negatives. Flowers creamed left-handed pitching in the minors in ’09 with a 1.119 OPS.

2. Daniel Hudson, RHP, Majors
DOB: March 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 5th round – Old Dominion University
MLB ETA: Early-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Hudson took one of the biggest steps forward of any prospect in the minors in ’09 and spent time at five different levels. He even spent some time in Chicago at the end of the year, but allowed 16 hits in 18.2 innings. Hudson also struggled with the long ball and gave up three homers (1.45 HR/9). He had issues with allowing too many fly balls in double-A, triple-A and the Majors (29.8 GB%), but he may have been tired, which could have led to elevated pitches. Overall, he allowed 108 hits in 151.7 minor-league innings and posted a strikeout rate of 9.91 K/9. He also showed solid control with a walk rate of 2.02. Hudson, a right-hander, fared well against southpaws, with an average-allowed of just .160 compared to righties at .237. He has a chance to spend all of 2010 in the White Sox rotation despite beginning ’09 in low-A ball.

3. Jordan Danks, OF, Double-A
DOB: August 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2008 7th round – University of Texas
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

The brother of White Sox starter John Danks, this athletic outfielder has never been able to live up to the promise he showed at Texas (He would have been a first rounder as a prep grad, but he asked teams not to draft him because he wanted to go to college). Even so, Danks still has potential thanks to good defense and raw power potential that he has yet to tap into. The outfielder started off ’09 quite well with a line of .322/.409/.525 in 118 at-bats. He was helped significantly, though, by a .422 BABIP. Moved up to double-A, Danks struggled and hit just .243/.337/.356 in 284 at-bats (.307 BABIP). For a guy who posted a .113 ISO in double-A, the left-handed hitter struck out too much: 25.7%. On the plus side, he’s fared OK against southpaws to this point in his pro career (.737 OPS in ’09).

4. Brent Morel, 3B, High-A
DOB: April 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 3rd round – Cal Poly
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

The organization has some depth at third base, what with Dayan Viciedo, C.J. Retherford, and Morel all able to play the position to varying degrees. Morel had a solid offensive season in high-A in ’09 and hit .281/.335/.453 with a .173 ISO in 481 at-bats. His power has increased each season he’s played professionally, but his OPS has diminished each season during that time frame. Although he’s not a speed burner, Morel added 25 steals in ’09 but was caught nine times. In his previous two seasons, Morel was 12 for 14, combined. The third base prospect does not strike out much (just 13.7% in ’09) but he also does not walk a ton (7.3%). If his power can continue to develop without sacrificing too much in his other categories, Morel could be the future at the hot corner.

5. Dayan Viciedo, 3B, Double-A
DOB: March 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 non-drafted international free agent (Cuba)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2

It was an up-and-down first season in pro ball for the 20(?)-year-old Cuban defectee. Viciedo did not display anywhere near his reported power potential (.111 ISO) and he was badly out of shape. He also posted a walk rate of just 4.4%. To give him credit, he did keep his strikeout rate below 20% at 17.7%. Viciedo should probably really head back to double-A in 2010 to work on discovering his power and showing more patience (not mention better conditioning). His .296 OPS against right-handed pitching is not good, and the portly Viciedo should try and get a few more balls in the air (55.2 GB%). The Sox reportedly still consider him the third-baseman-of-the-future, but the ’09 season was certainly a step back in that regard. If he is just 20 years old, though, Viciedo has time on his side.

6. C.J. Retherford, 3B/2B, Double-A
DOB: August 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 non-drafted free agent – Arizona State University
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

With Dayan Viciedo and Brent Morel around him, Retherford was shifted to second base in ’09, after spending the previous two seasons at the hot corner. An un-drafted collegian, the 24-year-old prospect has battled his way up the organizational ladder by hitting more than .295 each season. If he can stick at second base, then his power potential increases from average-to-below-average at third to above-average at second base. Although he hit just 10 homers at double-A, Retherford did manage 46 doubles (.176 ISO). His overall line was .297/.340/.473, which was hurt to a degree by his 5.9% walk rate. He did keep the strikeout rate down, as well, at 14.6%. Worst-case scenario, Retherford should have a nice career as a bench/utility player.

7. Clevelan Santeliz, RHP, Double-A
DOB: September 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2004 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

His control may not have been much better in ’09 (5.59 BB/9) but something clicked for Santeliz, who saw his FIP drop from around 5.50 in ’08 to 3.73. With his control issues, the right-hander is going to struggle in the Majors, but the club will look for another step forward in 2010. He did keep his hits down to just 43 in 56.1 innings and his strikeout rate was 8.31 K/9. Despite modest ground-ball rates (41%), Santeliz allowed just two homers all season. Right-handed batters hit .207 against him, and his walk rate was just 3.93. Obviously, the problem is with left-handers who posted a 7.20 BB/9 rate against him, and also had a .256 average. He has closer stuff at times, but control and consistency continues to elude him.

8. John Ely, RHP, Double-A
DOB: May 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 3rd round – University of Miami (Ohio)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, curveball, plus change-up

The opposite of Santeliz, Ely is a pitcher who utilizes solid command/control to help compensate for a below-average heater. The right-hander has the potential to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter, although he’d be better off starting in the National League. In the AL, his future may be in the bullpen. Ely’s win-loss record was impressive in ’09 at 14-2, but we know that says little-to-nothing about his value as a prospect. He did keep the hits down with 140 allowed in 156.1 innings, but his BABIP of .293 certainly helped. Ely’s walk rate hit a career high in ’09 at double-A but it was just 2.88 BB/9. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate has diminished with each promotion in the minors and hit a career-low 7.20 K/9 this past season. After having some homer problems in ’08 (1.11 HR/9), he solved those in ’09 (0.52 HR/9) thanks to a +50% ground-ball rate. Ely struggled against left-handed hitters by posting a walk rate of 4.52 BB/9 and a .277 average (.341 BABIP). His average-allowed against right-handed batters was .215 (.257 BABIP) and his walk rate was just 1.55 BB/9.

9. Gregory Infante, RHP, High-A
DOB: July 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

The White Sox organization loves hard-throwers and Infante is another one, although he’s still quite a ways from the Majors, having appeared in just six games above low-A. The right-hander began the year in low-A and allowed 76 hits in 88.1 innings, while posting a strikeout rate of 7.64 K/9. He did a respectable job of keeping the ball in the park at 0.41 HR/9 thanks to an OK ground-ball rate of 45.6%. The prospect did also receive a taste of high-A ball in ’09 and he should head back there in 2010. Like some of the pitchers above him on the list, Infante also struggled against left-handed batters. On the plus side, he has better control (although it’s inconsistent) than some of the other big arms in the system. A starter for now, his future probably lies in the back-end of the bullpen.

10. Santos Rodriguez, LHP, Low-A
DOB: January 1988 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 90-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Obtained from Atlanta in the Javier Vazquez trade despite pitching in rookie ball, Rodriguez has impressed the organization with his strong arm from the left side. Unfortunately, his walk rate of 5.67 BB/9 in rookie ball was not something to write home about in ’09. Hitters did struggle to make contact against him with a strikeout rate of 14.00 K/9 and just 18 hits in 27.0 innings of work. Rodriguez also did not allow a home run, despite allowing his fair share of fly balls (something he’ll need to trim down as he climbs the ladder). His line-drive rate of 7.5% was quite impressive. The southpaw handled right-handed batters well in ’09, with a .174 batting-average-allowed. If he can trim his walk rates, Rodriguez has a future as a late-game reliever.

A special thanks to for their input.

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

12 Responses to “Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Prospects”

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  1. Jared Mitchell says:

    What about me?

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  2. Trenchtown says:

    For Dayan Viciedo, it says he has a .296 OPS against right handed pitching which almost undoubtedly means to to OBP. However, looking at minor league splits it says his OBP against righties is .319 and was wondering where you got that number.

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  3. Paul says:

    John Ely went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

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  4. Gilbert says:

    re: Hudson
    He even spent some time in Chicago at the end of the year, but allowed 16 hits in 18.2 innings

    This looks like a pretty good stat line, esp for a rookie, so the “but” threw me off.

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  5. Paul says:

    I hate to be like this, but it’s Miami University not University of Miami. It has been that way since it was founded in 1809.

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  6. Randall says:

    Why does Keith Law hate Dan Hudson?

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