The Chicago Green Sox

There really is no point in sugarcoating things. The 2012 season will probably not be a pretty one on the south side of Chicago. The Detroit Tigers have put together a rather impressive, playoff-worthy team while the White Sox… have not.

Despite the dark clouds hanging over U.S. Cellular, there is a ray of sunshine for White Sox fans. The club appears set to open the season with four rookies on the 25-man roster; clearly fans would prefer to watch their team steamroll its way into the playoffs but watching young players develop should be a small consolation.

At present time the rookies projected to make the opening day roster include: relievers Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Nathan Jones, as well as shortstop Eduardo Escobar.

For the most part the wave of rookies in 2012 does not match up to the class of 2011, which included pitchers Chris Sale, Zach Stewart, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Brent Morel, and outfielder Dayan Viciedo. With that said three of the rookies made my pre-season Top 15 prospects list: Reed (1st overall), Escobar (8th) and Santiago (10th).

Both Reed and Santiago have the opportunity to see significant save opportunities in 2012 with the former the current favorite. Reed was a teammate of Stephen Strasburg’s in college and could quickly shake the title of “That other guy from San Diego State” thanks to his mid-to-upper-90s velocity and wipeout slider. It’s rare to see a rookie pitcher annointed closer – and actually handle the responsibility but Reed really is that good.

Santiago, a lefty, could also see time in the starting rotation if one of the current starters falters. He’s developed into a legit prospect just recently so he’s someone to watch to see just how good he can become. The third rookie in the bullpen is another late-bloomer in Jones. A right-hander, he has a solid pitcher’s frame and had a solid 2011 season at the double-A level and Jones has respectable stuff and induces a high number of ground-ball outs, which could make him a useful middle reliever.

Escobar, 23, is the kind of player that you have to watch play the field to really appreciate. He’s nothing special with the bat (wRC+ of just 77 at triple-A in ’11) but is the kind of player that could win a couple of gold gloves if he could hit well enough to play everyday. It appears, though, that he’ll serve as the utility man in 2012. It’s an interesting decision by the front office but they clearly feel his offense isn’t going to get any better with further development time.

Although I recently ranked the organization as having the worst minor league system in Major League Baseball heading into 2012, the White Sox have graduated enough prospects in the past couple of years to make things interesting. The young players should make an otherwise unspectacular season interesting.

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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 “The Chicago Green Sox”

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  1. Eminor3rd says:

    Where would Escobar start? He’d have to take time away from Brent Morel, Gordon Beckham, or Alexei Ramirez.

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    • MikeS says:

      And even though two of those three have offensive issues, their bats seem better than Escobar. Not leaving him in the minors to work on his hitting seems odd.

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  2. jcxy says:

    interesting comments as always, marc.

    what are your thoughts on gordon beckham? do you think his quick path to the show ultimately hurt his development?

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  3. jack wilson says:

    Nate Jones is most definitely a righty.

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  4. Gregory says:

    I would also expect a callup for Nestor Molina at some point during the season.

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  5. MattM says:

    I love the youth infusion, I think they’ll be much better than expected. Viciedo scares the hell out of me in left field though, I am not sure he’ll last the entire season there. I think his defensive woes will end up canceling out his offensive production. I’d rather them take the hit in the offense and use Jordan Danks in left field personally.

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  6. Chris K says:

    I believe you meant that there are dark clouds over New Comiskey Park. Unfamiliar with this “US Cellular” of which you speak.

    Looking forward to De Aza and Viciedo, and hopefully a bigger role for Lillibridge. Not too optimistic for Morel to repeat his September, but I think a core of undervalued AJ + Alexei + Paulie + any-sort-of-bounce-back Rios and Dunn could do better than expected. Detroit is intimidating, but its not as if the rest of the division is that scary, and if Sale does well the team will have a very respectable rotation.

    That said, if the season is spent at the ASB they need to blow up the team so that I’ll have something to watch in 2015, cos the next few seasons won’t be pretty.

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  7. gposner says:

    Who are these guys? Where’s Fox and Aparicio?

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  8. JDub says:

    Take a good look at Minnesota, Cleveland and K.C. and tell me why this team shouldn’t finish in second this year.

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