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1999 Top 10 Prospects
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Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams

By David Rawnsley

1. Kip Wells, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-3  Wt: 196
Drafted: Baylor, 1998 (1st round)  Signed by: Paul Provas

Top Prospects of the 90s

1990 Wilson Alvarez, lhp
1991 Johnny Ruffin, rhp
1992 Roberto Hernandez, rhp
1993 Jason Bere, rhp
1994 James Baldwin, rhp
1995 Scott Ruffcorn, rhp
1996 Chris Snopek, 3b-ss
1997 Mike Cameron, of
1998 Mike Caruso, ss
1999 Carlos Lee, 3b

Background: Wells was one of two 1998 first-round draft picks who didn’t sign right away but also didn’t return to school during the fall and continued negotiations (the Royals’ Jeff Austin was the other). He eventually signed with the White Sox on Dec. 22 for a $1.495 million bonus and an invitation to major league camp. The invite was important, as Wells wowed White Sox officials even though he had no professional experience. That performance laid the groundwork for his first callup in July. He won two spot starts, then returned to win two more games in September. He was dominant in the minors and was named the top prospect in the Carolina League and the No. 3 prospect in the Southern League.

Strengths: Numerous young pitchers have good raw stuff, and Wells is one of them, but his poise and understanding of how to pitch are his most impressive traits. He stands on the mound with the focus and intensity of David Cone and attacks hitters with four pitches he will use at any time in the count. Depending on what the batter is set up for and the movement he is trying to get, he throws his fastball anywhere from 87 to 96 mph. Wells’ best secondary pitch is a knee-buckling curveball. He also throws a short, quick slider that is more like a cutter and mixes in a quality changeup.

Weaknesses: Some teams were concerned about the long-term health of Wells’ elbow going into the draft, but the White Sox were still shocked when he was available with the 16th pick. For a first-year pitcher with a history of elbow trouble coming off a nine-month layoff, his 192 innings in 1999 may have been pushing the envelope a bit.

The Future: The White Sox traded away 52 big league starts from their 1999 rotation when Jaime Navarro and John Snyder went to the Brewers, which opens up a spot for Wells to take. No one in Chicago would be surprised if Wells claims the spot and makes a solid run for Rookie of the Year as well.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Winston-Salem (A) 5  6  3.57  14  14   0   0   86  78  34  95
Birmingham (AA)   8  2  2.94  11  11   0   0   70  49  31  44
Chicago           4  1  4.04   7   7   0   0   36  33  15  29

2. Jon Garland, RHP
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-6  Wt: 205
Drafted: HS--Granada Hills, Calif. (1st round)  Signed by: Steve Fuller (Cubs)

Background: Drafted by the Cubs, Garland was the second high school pitcher taken in 1997. The White Sox acquired him in July 1998 for reliever Matt Karchner and Garland has blossomed. He finished last season with 723 shutout innings against Vancouver in the Triple-A World Series.

Strengths: Garland’s velocity had dropped into the 80s with the Cubs but now ranges from 90-96 mph, with heavy boring action that breaks bats. His best pitch is a well-above-average curveball, and he added an 83-85 mph slider late last season.

Weaknesses: Like many young pitchers, Garland is still in the development stages with his changeup. There are natural concerns about Garland moving too fast at his age.

The Future: Garland’s tools and progress are much like the Diamondbacks’ top prospect, John Patterson. Like Patterson, Garland also is a longshot to make the big league staff out of spring training, but he could get called up during the season.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Winston-Salem (A) 5  7  3.33  19  19   2   0  119 109  39  84
Birmingham (AA)   3  1  4.38   7   7   0   0   39  39  18  27

3. Aaron Myette, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-4  Wt: 195
Drafted: Central Arizona JC, 1997 (Supplemental 1st round)  Signed by: Gary Pellant

Background: Despite slow starts in each of his three years, as you might expect from a Canadian pitcher, Myette cruised through the White Sox system, posting a 30-18 record, before making his major league debut last September. He was the No. 8 prospect in the Southern League last year.

Strengths: Myette is a fastball pitcher and throws 89-94 mph with excellent sinking and boring life. He is aggressive about establishing the inside of the plate with both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. He hit 15 batters last year, tied for the lead among Double-A pitchers.

Weaknesses: Myette’s curveball, cutter and changeup are solid secondary pitches, but none stands out now. Added velocity to his curveball might put that pitch over the edge.

The Future: Myette was tentative in the big leagues last September, something he can’t afford with his pitching style. With fewer than 400 minor league innings, he could use a full Triple-A season in 2000.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Birmingham (AA)  12  7  3.66  28  28   0   0  165 138  77 135
Chicago           0  2  6.32   4   3   0   0   16  17  14  11

4. Joe Crede, 3B
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-3  Wt: 190
Drafted: HS--Westphalia, Mo., 1996 (5th round)  Signed by: Paul Provas

Background: Crede had a lost season in 1999, as he finally gave in to the pain from a bone spur on the bottom of his left foot and had surgery. Crede was hitting .337 on April 28 when the spur, which also had flared up late in the 1998 season, affected his ability to hit and dragged down his average.

Strengths: Crede is a well-rounded athlete with above-average baseball skills. He has a level, line-drive swing with above-average bat speed and good power to right-center. Crede has the arm strength and soft hands to be a solid third baseman.

Weaknesses: Though Crede accumulated 291 at-bats last year, the last 200 were wasted, so he hasn’t had the repetitions you’d like to see from a young hitter challenging for a big league job.

The Future: Crede wasn’t ready to play this winter, as the White Sox had hoped, but should be ready for spring training. Third base is wide open and Crede could claim the job with a good showing in March.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Birmingham (AA)    .251  291  37  73  14   1   4   42  22  47   2

5. Jason Stumm, RHP
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 210
Drafted: HS--Centralia, Wash., 1999 (1st round)  Signed by: Scott Cerny

Background: No high school pitcher in the 1999 draft was a bigger surprise to scouts than Stumm. He threw in the high 80s in the summer before the draft and was buried on follow lists. He moved into the mid-90s and became the 15th overall pick in the draft, one of four first-rounders from Washington.

Strengths: Stumm’s fastball now hits 96-97 mph consistently, and he maintains his stuff deep into games. He has a thick body reminiscent of Jaret Wright but is an agile, versatile athlete who excelled in three sports in high school. The White Sox love his makeup, which led them to promote Stumm to the Midwest League after 11 Rookie-league innings.

Weaknesses: Stumm needs work on both his slider and changeup. He threw fastballs almost exclusively in high school and still has to get a feel for spinning the ball.

The Future: How quickly Stumm learns his secondary pitches will determine how quickly he advances.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
AZL White Sox (R) 0  0  3.27   3   2   0   0   11  13   3   9
Burlington (A)    3  3  5.32  10  10   0   0   44  47  27  33

6. Aaron Rowand, OF
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 200
Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, 1998 (Supplemental 1st round)  Signed by: Ed Crosby

Background: A 40th-round pick of the Mets out of high school, Rowand instead went to Cal State Fullerton, where he was a career .345 hitter. He was the Carolina League’s top hitting prospect and No. 9 overall prospect.

Strengths: Rowand has a strong upper body, with Popeye arms and hands that enable him to generate above-average bat speed with a short, compact swing. He dramatically improved his ability to loft the ball in 1999 and hit several tape-measure home runs. Rowand is a good outfielder with average arm strength.

Weaknesses: He is an average runner now, but Rowand is slowing down and won’t be a factor on the bases as he gets older. While his short swing limits his strikeouts for a power hitter, when combined with his aggressiveness it also leaves him with subpar walk totals.

The Future: The White Sox think that Rowand is just beginning to tap his power potential. While the organization is deep in outfield talent, Rowand could be the best middle-of-the-order run producer.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Winston-Salem (A)  .279  512  96 143  37   3  24   88  33  94  15

7. Matt Ginter, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 220
Drafted: Mississippi State, 1999 (1st round)  Signed by: Warren Hughes

Background: Ginter had a mediocre junior season at Mississippi State, going 8-7, 4.80, but he rebounded in his professional debut. He struck out 13 Wisconsin hitters in the Midwest League championship series.

Strengths: Ginter’s best pitch is a tight-breaking slider with excellent velocity in the 86-88 mph range. He throws his fastball anywhere from 89-95 mph and is learning to get a better plane and more sink on the pitch. He’s an intense competitor who shows good leadership.

Weaknesses: The White Sox made immediate mechanical changes with Ginter, getting him to slow down his delivery and pitch taller and more under control. That brought his arm angle up and gave his pitches more life.

The Future: Ginter’s aptitude in adjusting his delivery and learning how to pitch inside could put him on the fast track. Scouts always thought his future was in the bullpen, but the White Sox want him to remain a starter as long as possible.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
AZL White Sox (R) 1  0  3.24   3   0   0   1    8   5   3  10
Burlington (A)    4  2  4.05   9   9   0   0   40  38  19  29

8. Dan Wright, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-5  Wt: 215
Drafted: Arkansas, 1999 (2nd round)  Signed by: John Kazanas

Background: Wright was the biggest enigma of the 1999 draft. He had arguably the best raw stuff in college baseball but went 2-15 in his last two seasons at Arkansas and pitched so poorly late in his junior season that he fell to the 63rd pick overall.

Strengths: Both Wright’s fastball and curveball are above-average pitches when he is in rhythm. His fastball sits consistently at 95-96 mph and touches 98, and his curveball gets hard, downward biting action. Wright’s changeup shows promise despite his lack of experience with it.

Weaknesses: The whole equation with Wright involves confidence. The White Sox made no significant changes to his delivery and used him in low-pressure situations during the summer, and he responded well. In the relaxed atmosphere of instructional league, he was intimidating.

The Future: The White Sox project him as a starter down the road, but Wright’s short-term role will be determined by his comfort level on the mound.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Bristol (R)       2  0  1.00  10   0   0   1   18  14   9  18
Burlington (A)    0  0  6.00   2   0   0   0    6   5   3   3

9. Lorenzo Barcelo, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-4  Wt: 220
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1994  Signed by: Luis Rosa (Giants)

Background: At 19 Barcelo was a lightning rod as part of the July 1997 White Flag trade with the Giants. He had elbow trouble in 1998 and had surgery in March and again in September. He came back in the second half of 1999 and had a strong instructional league.

Strengths: Barcelo is a physical clone of Mets closer Armando Benitez and can reach the mid- to upper 90s with his fastball. His changeup is a good secondary pitch. Barcelo’s low walk totals show incredible control for a young power pitcher coming off major surgery.

Weaknesses: Barcelo’s huge hands have made it harder for him to master a good breaking pitch. He will have to prove over the course of an entire season that his elbow is healthy.

The Future: Barcelo has always been a starter but projects as a closer after he gets enough innings to master his pitches and show his arm is healthy. It’s not outrageous to think he could reach 100 mph with his fastball in the near future.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
AZL White Sox (R) 2  1  1.69   9   9   0   0   43  36   6  57
Burlington (A)    1  0  3.60   1   1   0   0    5   3   0   6

10. Mark Buehrle, LHP
Age: 21  B-T: L-L  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 195
Drafted: Jefferson (Mo.) JC, D/F 1998 (38th round)  Signed by: Nathan Durst

Background: As a 1998 draft-and-follow pick, Buehrle improved enough to not only sign for a low six-figure bonus but also get sent straight to Burlington, where he acquitted himself while pitching the Bees to a Midwest League title.

Strengths: Buehrle has a complete assortment of pitches that he can throw for strikes, including an 88-90 mph fastball, two types of sliders, a curveball and changeup. The command of his breaking pitches is advanced for his age, and he consistently overmatched lefthanded hitters in the Midwest League.

Weaknesses: The White Sox are hard-pressed to identify a weakness in Buehrle. His fringe-average fastball may be his weakest pitch in a scout’s grade book.

The Future: Buehrle could become the fastest moving pitcher in the White Sox system. The organization has few lefthanded relievers, and though his five-pitch arsenal profiles him as a starter, short-term needs may put him in the bullpen almost immediately.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Burlington (A)    7  4  4.10  20  14   1   3   99 105  16  91

Rest of the Best:

11. Josh Paul, c
12. Rob Purvis, rhp
13. McKay Christensen, of
14. Juan Figueroa, rhp
15. Jason Dellaero, ss

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