Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – White Sox

Kyle McCulloch was the last straw for Kenny Williams, and deservedly so. The White Sox were making practice of botching first-round picks with low-ceiling players that, if their skills even progressed enough to reach the Major Leagues, weren’t likely to be significant contributors (Royce Ring, Lance Broadway, etc). So, in 2007, Williams issued an edict to begin drafting players’ ceilings, and suddenly, a nice middle ground was struck: the White Sox have made habit of drafting college players with prep-like potential.

It began with Aaron Poreda, who hadn’t pitched extraordinarily well at the University of San Francisco, but his size and velocity from the left size promised greater things. They did, as Poreda became part of the package that acquired Jake Peavy from the Padres last season. Next in line was Gordon Beckham, who had developing power and the defensive skillset to succeed in the middle infield. And then last year, the White Sox took the approach to new levels with Jared Mitchell, who like many high school first-round picks, covers a lot of ground in the outfield, hits a fastball a long way, but swings and misses far too often against curveballs. I expect Mitchell to be the next success story, but obviously his timetable was pushed back a year this spring with an ankle injury.

Ultimately, the Sox need to connect on these first-round picks, because it’s not happening with their international scouting department. What should be an easy pipeline thanks to Ozzie Guillen‘s far-reaching popularity is not, as it has instead become a hot-bed of controversy. The White Sox are still recovering after bonus-skimming allegations led to Dave Wilder’s dismissal from the team. Yes, the team is still one of the prime locations to Cuban defectors — leading to Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, etc. — but just have not recruited enough impact talents from Venezuela and surrounding countries.

So with Mitchell out, and a dearth of international talent, the White Sox prospect list is topped with almost-ready prospects that each have a ding against them. Jordan Danks had a breakout season last year, and has very nice OBP and defensive skills, but his power development simply isn’t happening. Tyler Flowers can hit, but it looks more and more like a move to 1B/DH will happen, decreasing his value as a prospect. I really like Daniel Hudson, but his peak is a third starter or so, unless Don Cooper can do more change-up magic with him. The next tier is filled with guys like Brent Morel who just doesn’t profile all that well.

Part of the reason for the shallow farm system is Kenny Williams, who does a nice job of using the farm system to get good talent. We mentioned Peavy, but both Carlos Quentin and John Danks were acquired using other young players, and the Sox look to have received the better end of both deals. But, you still sometimes get head-scratchers like trading Brandon Allen for Tony Pena, which creates the worry that Williams might be too haphazard trading prospects. Williams wheeling and dealing makes it impossible to accurately predict the future of the White Sox after guys like A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko have moved on. But given the current talent level, it’s difficult to predict much success with the pool of players behind Gordon Beckham and John Danks looking so shallow.



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larry1sss
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6 years 6 months ago

ely was traded in december.

nschaef
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nschaef
6 years 6 months ago

The overwhelming opinion after 2009 was that Tyler Flowers’ defense had improved tremendously, and could stay behind the plate. This article seems to have missed that.

nschaef
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nschaef
6 years 6 months ago

Additionally, Carlos Quentin was acquired for Chris Carter who is considered to be one of the top prospects in the game, and might very well be the As 1B as soon as this year. I agree it was a solid trade for Kenny Williams until proven otherwise, but it might not be as clear cut as indicated here.

Terry
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Terry
6 years 6 months ago

“Tyler Flowers can hit, but it looks more and more like a move to 1B/DH will happen, decreasing his value as a prospect.”

What makes you believe Flowers will not stick at catcher? He seems to at least be viewed as an average catcher now.

bigfun
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bigfun
6 years 6 months ago

Sickels thinks he can stick at catcher. After five years of AJ Pierzynski the team won’t exactly be expecting Yadier Molina-level defense behind the plate.

nschaef
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nschaef
6 years 6 months ago

Not trying to belabor the point, but this was Kevin Goldstein’s take on Flowers’ defense:

“Scouts were universal in their praise for how much he improved defensively, and team officials talk about how he bought into the need to improve from day one. Over the season, Flowers became an average defender to go with his plus arm.”

Richie Abernathy
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Richie Abernathy
6 years 6 months ago

“And then last year, the White Sox took the approach to new levels with Jared Mitchell, who like many high school first-round picks, covers a lot of ground in the outfield, hits a fastball a long way, but swings and misses far too often against curveballs.”

Mitchell attended Louisiana State University.

This article is garbage, honestly, for fangraphs standards.

Part-Time Pariah
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Part-Time Pariah
6 years 6 months ago

Why does FanGraphs hate the White Sox? =(

I love this fuckin’ site too.

dickey simpkins
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dickey simpkins
6 years 6 months ago

I’m sorry, how does this article indicate hatred of the Sox? They had a terrible farm system for quite some time, KW trades his best prospects in exchange for more established ones, and the past few years have seen the team taking a different approach to drafting. Maybe a Sox fan with a much closer analysis of the farm system would be more optimistic, IMO it’s pretty accurate to call the talent pool shallow.

Professional Editor
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Professional Editor
6 years 6 months ago

It indicates hatred because the Sox are ranked 23rd out of 30. I think that’s it.

striker
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

I think the logic behind the Brandon Allen for Tony Pena trade was that first basemen with 30 hr power and high strikeout totals are easier to come by than solid relief pitchers. Maybe they think Viciedo will turn into a right handed Brandon Allen this year.

I like how Kenny sells high on prospects. He understands how they are over valued. He also understands the immediate return a veteran will have without having to wait for a prospect to mature. Chris Carter is probably the only prospect Kenny Williams has traded away that will amount to anything, while in turn he has received Jim Thome, Carlos Quentin, Tony Pena, Juan Pierre, Javier Vazquez, Matt Thornton in return.

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