MLB Pipeline released it’s latest Top-100 list of Major League Baseball prospects this past weekend, and the White Sox prospects garnered some mixed results individually, while the farm system as a whole is near the top of baseball.
On Saturday the folks over at MLB Pipeline released their first revised rankings of 2017, with the roll-out of a new Top-100 prospects list, which puts the Chicago White Sox near the top of the league in terms of number of elite prospects in baseball, but some of those prospects took a hit individually in the revised rankings.
The White Sox rank third in baseball with six Top-100 prospects to boast, sitting behind the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves who each have seven Top-100 prospects within their farm-system.
Not in the recent memory have the White Sox ever begun a season with a farm system featuring this many elite prospects, the closest that they have come in the current decade was in 2015 when they started the season with Carlos Rodon, Tim Anderson, and Frankie Montas inside of the elite list of the Top-100 prospects in baseball. In April of 2014 the White Sox had as few as one player on the elite list, featuring only Tim Anderson at number 81 in the spring of 2014. In 2013 when Rick Hahn took over as the General Manager of the White Sox, the team only featured Matt Davidson (acquired via trade), and Courtney Hawkins inside of the Top-100 list.
Evidence of the draft savvy that Rick Hahn and the entire White Sox scouting and player development staff are capable of, the White Sox have drafted a Top-100 prospect in each year of the MLB Draft (Anderson – ’13, Rodon – ’14, Fulmer – ’15, Collins – ’16), since they took over in April of 2013. Both Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon have reached the major-league level, making their debuts in 2015 (Rodon) and 2016 (Anderson).
Here’s how the White Sox crop of elite prospects fared in the updated MLB Pipeline Top-100 Rankings this weekend.
Previously: #1 – Current: #2
Moncada was ranked the number one prospect in all of baseball in 2016, but was surpassed in the 2017 preseason rankings by his former Boston Red Sox teammate Andrew Benintendi. The folks at MLB Pipeline clearly went with the safe pick in Benintendi, who will begin the season with the Red Sox as their everyday left-fielder, and surpass his prospect service time limitations withing the first few weeks of the 2017 season anyways.
Moncada has the higher ceiling of the two prospects, and is the superior athlete of the two. Moncada will begin the season in Triple-A, and fine tune his skills before making his way to Chicago.
Previously: #3 – Current: #12
Giolito was the third ranked prospect in 2016, and the top rated right-handed pitcher as well. Giolito fell nine spots on the Top-100 list, and two spots on the list of top right-handed pitcher’s. Giolito has taken slack due to his Tommy John surgery that he underwent after an injury in the Washington Nationals farm system, but has been healthy since.
Giolito was knocked around in 2016 when he made his brief stint with the Nationals in September, posting a 0-1 record in six appearances with a 6.75 ERA. The 22 year-old right-hander has struggled with his control, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue moving forward. MLB Pipeline notes that Giolito has the ability to repeat his delivery consistently, and possesses excellent mechanics. They also note that Don Cooper is “one of the best pitching coaches in baseball”, and believe that Cooper will help Giolito deliver on his staff ace potential in Chicago.
Previously: #30 – Current: #16
Michael Kopech, the flame-throwing right-hander received in the Chris Sale deal with the Red Sox, has steadily climbed the elite list over his time in the minor-league system of the Red Sox and now the White Sox.
Kopech entered 2016 as the #30 prospect in baseball, and has climbed all the way up to #16 in the 2017 preseason rankings. Kopech has been clocked at as high as 105 miles per hour in a game last season with the Red Sox, and was given a perfect grade of 80 for his fastball on the 20/80 scale by MLB Pipeline. Kopech went 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts in 2016, striking out 82 hitters over 52 innings of work.
Previously: #38 – Currently: #46
Reynaldo Lopez, the prospect acquired this winter that most excites me at this point slipped eight spots in the Top-100 rankings this time around, but I’m not worried about the small slide at this point.
Anyone who has watched video on Lopez knows that this kid has a chance to be an electrifying pitcher moving forward. Lopez has an electric fastball, and a wicked curveball that often times has opposing hitters searching for their pride after they finish flailing wildly for strike three. While his ERA was higher than desired in 2016, his opposing batting average of .220 over 110 innings of work at the minor-league level was mightily impressive, as was his 126 strike outs over that span of work.
Previously: #58 – Current: #71
Carson Fulmer, the White Sox top draft pick in the 2015 MLB Draft had a bumpy start to his major-league career in 2016, called up to work out of the bullpen mid-season, Fulmer went 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA over the course of 11.2 innings pitched before being sent to Triple-A Charlotte to be stretched back out into a starter once again.
Fulmer was very impressive down the stretch once he returned to the Charlotte Knights, drawing praise on his improved mechanics and ability to repeat his delivery consistently, something that has always been a knock against the right-hander since his Vanderbilt days.
Fulmer will be fine with time, he seems to have learned from his rough stint in the White Sox bullpen, and worked out the kinks in Charlotte to this point.
Previously: #80 – Current: #81
The White Sox 10th overall pick in last June’s MLB Draft was ranked 80th in baseball in last season’s mid-season rankings, and sits at #81 in the latest revision for the 2017 season. Collins has impressed during his short time at the professional level, both with his offensive ability, which was always thought to be his best attribute, and his development as a catcher.
Collins still has the White Sox public blessing to continue to develop as a catcher at this time, and drew some rave reviews for his work thus far at last month’s prospect hitting camp. Collins is currently rated as the fourth best catching prospect in baseball.