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Top 10 Prospects: The Chicago White Sox

Posted By Marc Hulet On November 5, 2010 @ 11:00 am In Minor Leagues | 22 Comments

The Chicago White Sox
2010 MLB Record: 88-74 (2nd in the AL Central)
Minor League Power Ranking: 30th (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Chris Sale, LHP
Acquired: 2010 1st round (Florida Gulf Coast U)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 22

Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 50%

Notes: Sale not only reached the Majors in his draft year – he dominated. The lefty pitched just 10.1 innings in the minors before posting a 2.74 FIP in 23.1 innings. He missed a lot of bats (12.34 K/9) while showing respectable control (3.86 BB/9). A starter in college, Sale pitched out of the bullpen in pro ball and saw his fastball velocity climb from the low 90′s and sit around 96 mph. He also displayed a sharp slider, at times, and a promising changeup (which he’ll need to combat right-handed batters). He’s expected to spend some time in the upper minors in 2011 while transitioning back to the starting rotation. If he can maintain the velocity bump as a starter (while also showing the +50% ground-ball rate), he could be a real steal as the 13th overall pick of the draft. With that said, he doesn’t have the smoothest throwing motion and there is a little bit of effort that could be placing added stress on his elbow. At times, Sale also drops his arm a bit more on the changeup.

2. Jared Mitchell, OF
Acquired: 2009 1st round (Louisiana State U)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: Injured/Arizona Fall League
Opening Day Age: 22

Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 40%

Notes: Mitchell suffered an ugly ankle injury in spring training in 2010, which wiped out his regular season. The former No. 1 draft pick made it back for the Arizona Fall League and looked pretty good considering the layoff. He has a solid athletic build but there are definitely some holes in his swing. He needs to keep his swing more level and keep the barrel of the bat through the strike zone for a longer period of time. He has good bat speed but a level swing will help him hit more line drives and fewer lazy fly balls. Prior to the injury, Mitchell was an explosive base runner and fielder; the injury is not expected to impact him long-term. Because of the injury – and the time he spent on the football field in high school and college – Mitchell is behind the eight ball and still raw for his age. His ceiling remains high, though.

3. Brent Morel, 3B
Acquired: 2008 3rd round (Cal Poly U)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age:23

Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 50%

Notes: Morel doesn’t project to maintain a high peak WAR for long but he’s a fairly safe bet to be a solid regular for many years at the MLB level. The hot-corner prospect will likely display below-average home-run power for the position, but his swing should generate a ton of doubles – he slugged 70 two-baggers over the past two seasons. With that said, he showed in a brief MLB trial that he can clear the fence from time-to-time and should hit 10-15 homers out during a full season. He has a nice, quiet stance at the plate. Morel isn’t a speed demon, but he nabbed 25 bases in ’09 thanks to intelligent base running. He has gold glove potential on defense and is the main reason that Chicago was so willing to flip Dayan Viciedo over to first base.

4. Dayan Viciedo, 1B
Acquired: 2008 non-drafted free agent (Cuba)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 22

Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 35%

Notes: If you believe his age, and have faith that his waist line will hold up, Viciedo has a ton of potential with good raw power. Unfortunately, his approach at the plate leaves a lot to be desired. His walk rate of 3.0% in triple-A was sad but it was down right pathetic in the Majors at 1.9%. He posted a triple-slash line of .308/.321/.519 in The Show but he was helped by an unsustainable .365 BABIP. Veteran pitchers at the MLB level will eat Viciedo alive as the scouting reports circulate through the league; there is little point in throwing strikes to him. Defensively, the Cuban is a poor fielder at third base and he’s moved across the diamond to first base, where he does less damage with the glove. He has the raw power for the position.

5. Tyler Flowers, C
Acquired: 2005 33rd round (by Atlanta Braves)
Pro Experience: 5 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA
Opening Day Age: 25

Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 35%

Notes: Flowers entered 2010 as one of the most exciting catching prospects – just below the likes of Buster Posey and Jesus Montero. Unfortunately, his offensive output took a massive step backward. With veteran MLB catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the final year of his contract in 2010, Flowers may have wilted after putting too much pressure on himself. Always known as an offensive-minded catcher, he hit just .214/.283/.434 at triple-A. The organization will now most certainly look to bring Pierzynski back or find another short-term veteran to fill the full-time catching void. Flowers will be 25 on opening day in 2011 so he’ll have to recapture his potential fairly quickly. When he’s swinging well, the former Braves draft pick shows plus power and takes a ton of walks (along with a lot of Ks).

6. Jacob Petricka, RHP
Acquired: 2010 2nd round (Indiana State U)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie/A
Opening Day Age: 22

Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 35%

Notes: Petricka has long legs and utilizes them in a drop-and-drive delivery. He also does a solid job of staying tall in his delivery. The right-hander’s college career was slowed by Tommy John surgery but he’s recovered the velocity on his fastball and also shows a good curveball. He struggled with his control in pro ball after moving from rookie ball to low-A but fatigue could have been a factor. After signing with the organization, Petricka made 17 appearances, including eight starts. He could move quickly as a reliever but also has promise as a starter, if he can develop a reliable third pitch in his repertoire. Both Chris Sale and Petricka were smart college pitching picks and should help the thin upper levels of the system.

7. Eduardo Escobar, SS
Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 5 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 22

Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 30%

Notes: Escobar has been on the prospect radar for a while but his bat had a huge question mark on it. In truth, it still does but the Venezuelan showed improvements with the stick in 2010 while continuing to flash gold glove potential. Escobar hit .288/.330/.405 in 368 high-A ball at-bats before moving up to double-A where he posted a triple-slash line of .262/.294/.376 in 202 at-bats. He’ll likely never be more than an average hitter but the glove could make him a valuable player for a big league club. If he doesn’t hit enough to play regularly, he should have a nice career as a utility player. Escobar has the speed to steal 10-15 bases in the Majors but he doesn’t get great reads off the pitcher.

8. Josh Phegley, C
Acquired: 2009 supplemental 1st round (Indiana University)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: R/A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 23

Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 30%

Notes: Phegley appeared in just 48 games in 2010 after being diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura [ITP], a platelet disorder that causes blood clotting issues. It’s an unfortunate disorder for any athlete but certainly for a catcher who could be cut or bruised by a foul ball or a back swing. Phegley is undergoing treatment and is expected back on the field in 2011 but the disorder is often chronic in adults and the probability of remission is estimated at 20-40%. When healthy, he’s an offensive-minded catcher who has above-average power potential despite questionable bat speed. Defensively, he’s considered a below-average fielder. A move to another, less dangerous, position (first base is really the only option) will certainly impact his value but it won’t take away from any of his key strengths.

9. Trayce Thompson, OF
Acquired: 2009 2nd round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A
Opening Day Age: 20

Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 25%

Notes: We have yet to get a solid, extended look at Thompson, whose 2010 season – his first full year in pro ball – was interrupted by a thumb injury. The young outfielder appeared in just 58 games, as a result, and he hit just .229/.302/.433. Thompson is athletic but raw as a baseball player. As witnessed by his .205 ISO rate in low-A ball, he has good power potential (due to plus bat speed), plus running speed and projectable defensive abilities but he needs to improve his pitch recognition at the plate, as well as his read of balls off the bat while playing in centerfield. Thompson has a simple load and a quiet swing, which will benefit him in the long run; he just needs to shorten the stroke. He could be a 20-20 player down the road but could fill out – and slow down – in his late 20s.

10. Santos Rodriguez, LHP
Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (by Atlanta Braves)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 23

Estimated Peak WAR: 2.0
Likelihood to Reach Peak: 30%

Notes: Along with Tyler Flowers (and sleeper Jon Gilmore), Rodriguez was part of the loot that was acquired in the Javier Vazquez trade with Atlanta in late 2008. He’s seen his value increase since the trade, although injuries took a bite out of the second half of his season. Even so, he’s expected to be healthy for spring training. When he’s on, Rodriguez features a mid-90s fastball and promising slider. He’s also developing his changeup. His heater has good sink and he hasn’t allowed a homer in the past three seasons. Rodriguez clearly needs to improve his control (7.14 BB/9) and he’ll need his changeup to combat right-handed hitters in the upper levels of pro ball


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