A Minor Review of 2017: Chicago White Sox

I like the Sox system, but not for the same reasons as most people. Lucas Giolito should be a decent mid-rotation arm and Eloy Jimenez is going to be a star… but Luis Robert and Blake Rutherford are overrated. Players being undervalued, though, include Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets, A.J. Puckett, and Aaron Bummer.

The Graduate: Yoan Moncada, 2B: As they’re known to do quite often, the White Sox rushed Moncada through the minors after getting their paws on him in the Chris Sale deal last winter. Now, he did hold his own in The Show as a roughly league-average hitter, but the strikeout rate of 32% suggests more issues are to come unless he makes adjustments. Just 22, Moncada has a tantalizing power-speed combo and could be a mainstay in the middle of the Sox lineup if the adjustments happen. Look for him to have an up-and-down year in 2018.

Another Graduate Lucas Giolito, RHP: Another acquisition from last winter by the rebuilding Sox, Giolito has seen his overall value decrease along with his fastball velocity but he still looks like a potential innings-eating, mid-rotation arm. His heater sat at 92 mph in The Show in 2017 (down from the mid-90s) but he has a four-pitch mix and a very good curveball. He also has a history of keeping the ball on the ground and in the park — although that deserted him in 2017. Giolito has yet to officially solidify a spot in the big league rotation so he may spend a little more time in the minors but he’s just 23 years old and the Sox likely aren’t going to win much in 2018 anyway.

The Stud: Eloy Jimenez, OF: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… but Jimenez is yet another high-ceiling import from another club. Just 20, he’s already 6-4 and more than 200 pounds. He slugged 19 home runs in 2017 and has a lot more untapped raw power. He absolutely stung the ball last year with a line-drive rate of more than 22%. He also hit for a strong average but will need to make more contact to have that kind of success in The Show. Jimenez looks like a prototypical slugging right-fielder and could receive his first taste of the Majors in late 2018 before assuming a full-time role in 2019.

The Draft Pick: Jake Burger, 3B: The Sox spent a lot of time and money acquiring prospects in 2017 that could hit the ball a long way and Burger is no exception. He also has a chance to hit for a respectable average. He doesn’t look overly athletic but he does a lot of things well and should perform OK at the hot corner. Burger makes solid contact for a power hitter and struck out just 28 times in 47 pro games last year. He could move quickly and might open 2018 in high-A ball.

The Riser: Alec Hansen, RHP: At 6-7 and 235 pounds, Hansen looks like a boss on the mound and he began to throw like one in 2017. A pitcher who’s always possessed above-average raw stuff, this right-hander turned his back on an uneven amateur career at showed improved command and control, which allowed him to strike out 191 batters in 141.1 innings. Playing at three levels — and topping out in double-A — Hansen allowed just eight home runs despite his fly-ball-heavy approach. With a mid-to-upper-90s fastball, a plus slider and two more improving pitches, he has a shot at developing into a top-of-the-rotation arm and more people should know his name.

The Sleeper: A.J. Puckett, RHP: A quiet acquisition by the Sox, Puckett isn’t the prototypical pitcher that Chicago usually targets. He doesn’t throw in the mid-to-upper 90s but he still works in the low 90s and has an outstanding changeup. He also works effectively down in the zone and generates a lot of ground balls to go with his modest number of strikeouts. A smart and athletic pitcher, Puckett should squeeze every ounce of potential out of himself and has the ceiling of an innings-eating No. 4 hurler — which is still very valuable in era.

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

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Jimenez for Quintana seems like Carter for Sutcliffe.


Sutcliffe (with Cubs): 21.8 rWAR
Carter (not Cubs): 19.9 rWAR