Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Phil Rogers
1. Jon Rauch, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-11. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Morehead State, 1999 (3rd round). Signed by: George Bradley/Larry Grefer.
Background: While his big frame attracts attention, Rauch wasnt drafted out of high school and received only one Division I scholarship offer, a combination athletic/academic ride at Morehead State. He showed his potential as MVP of the wood-bat Shenandoah Valley League after his sophomore season. Rauch slid in the 1999 draft after an unimpressive junior season, during which he dropped 50 pounds because of a bout with viral meningitis. The White Sox gambled $310,000 he would regain his form of the previous summer, and they hit the jackpot. Rauch, who at 6-foot-11 could become the tallest pitcher in big league history, was Baseball Americas Minor League Player of the Year in his first full season. He capped his season with 21 strikeouts and no walks in 11 innings for the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team.
Strengths: Rauch is a polished pitcher with the advantage of the unusual angles that result from his height. He only recently regained the 93-95 mph fastball he had before the meningitis. He sustains his velocity deep into gameshe didnt have a fastball clocked below 91 mph in a 14-strikeout, two-hit shutout in August. Hitters cant sit on the fastball because he has an above-average slider and curveball, both of which he throws for strikes. While many tall pitchers struggle with their mechanics, Rauch is fundamentally sound. He also has excellent control.
Weaknesses: Rauch didnt have a reliable changeup when he signed but has made progress developing one. Perhaps because he challenges every hitter, hes prone to giving up home runs. His durability is unproven, as his 177 innings (including the Olympics) were a career high.
The Future: Rauch has the stuff to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. With youngsters Kip Wells and Jon Garland expected to open the season in the White Sox rotation, theres no reason to rush Rauch. He has pitched just 230 innings as a pro. Hes likely to return to Double-A Birmingham, but it would be no big surprise if he spent most of the year at Triple-A Charlotte. Hell be promoted only if the Sox are positive he can help out down the stretch of a playoff race.
2. Joe Borchard, of
Age: 22. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Stanford, 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Joe Butler.
Background: The White Sox committed a record $5.3 million bonus to keep Borchard from continuing his two-sport career at Stanford, where he had been expected to be the starting quarterback.
Strengths: Some scouts believe Borchard is the best college power prospect since Mark McGwire. He can drive the ball to all fields from both sides of the plate. Borchards father, an outfielder drafted by the Royals in 1969, had him switch-hitting by age 11. Borchard is a good outfielder with an excellent arm. Stanford coach Mark Marquess says hes the most competitive player he ever had.
Weaknesses: Borchard left the Arizona Fall League because of back pain. The White Sox blame the injury on football and say their conditioning program will prevent long-term problems. The Sox may be asking too much for Borchard to develop into a center fielder.
The Future: Borchard will begin 2001 in Double-A and could be promoted at the end of the year. His situation is complicated by the White Sox young corner outfielders, Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordonez.
3. Joe Crede, 3b
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HSWestphalia, Mo., 1996 (5th round). Signed by: Paul Provas.
Background: Crede picked up MVP awards in the Double-A Southern League and the Class A Carolina League in the last three seasons. The year he wasnt an MVP he was limited by a foot injury. He may have completed his minor league education with a tour of the Arizona Fall League.
Strengths: A pure hitter with a solid approach, Crede has been compared to Scott Rolen. His bat speed generates power without requiring him to pull the ball or swing for the fences. He has shown the mental toughness to recover from slow starts. Hes a solid fielder and cut his error total dramatically in 2000.
Weaknesses: Crede never had a lot of speed and has slowed down after twice having surgery on a toe in 1999. His strikeout total rose above 100 for the first time in 2000.
The Future: The only real question is whether Crede will open the 2001 season as Chicagos third baseman or will displace veteran Herbert Perry along the way. If Crede can win the job in spring trainingproblematic given Perrys importance to the 2000 teamhe could emerge as a rookie-of-the-year contender.
4. Matt Ginter, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Mississippi State, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Warren Hughes.
Background: Ginter ranked second in the Southern League in ERA and was selected for the U.S. Olympic team in 2000, his first full pro season. He withdrew from the team when the White Sox said they wanted to consider him for the postseason roster, which he didnt make.
Strengths: Ginter has a plus fastball that he can throw in the mid-90s, but his best pitch is a tight slider that can overmatch righthanders. Hes a versatile pitcher who could project as either a starter or a reliever. Hes willing to knock hitters off the plate, which helped him hold Double-A hitters to a .233 average.
Weaknesses: Ginter seemed almost in awe when he was promoted to the big leagues. He respected big league hitters too much, falling behind in too many counts while nibbling around the edges of the strike zone. He gave up five homers in nine innings.
The Future: Ginter was on the fast track before his September troubles. The White Sox probably will give him a full season at Triple-A. He projects as a reliever but could fool the Sox and wind up in the rotation in 2002.
5. Dan Wright, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Arkansas, 1999 (2nd round). Signed by: John Kazanas.
Background: In his first full pro season, Wright overcame the inconsistency that dogged him throughout his college career. He made tremendous strides toward harnessing the promise that made him a second-round draft choice despite a 2-15 record in his last two years at Arkansas. He held Double-A hitters to a .187 average and performed well in the Southern League playoffs.
Strengths: Wright may be the hardest thrower in the Sox stable, which is saying something. His fastball consistently hits 95 mph and has been as high as 98. He has a nasty knuckle-curve with a sharp, downward break. He can be dominating when hes on his game.
Weaknesses: Control can be a problem for Wright, but the Sox say that also should improve. The key for him now is to build on the confidence he developed in 2000.
The Future: Outside of perhaps Rauch and the unsung Corwin Malone, Wright has as much upside as any Chicago pitching prospect. The Sox have enough pitching to take their time with Wright, which they will. He might not be in the big league picture until 2003.
6. Lorenzo Barcelo, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1994. Signed by: Luis Rosa (Giants).
Background: Considered the prize prospect from the 1997 White Flag trade, Barcelo was on a fast track to the big leagues before Tommy John surgery. He came back strong in 2001, making his big league debut and serving as a middle reliever in the playoffs.
Strengths: Barcelo is a skilled pitcher with unusual command for such a big man. His fastball, which was approaching 100 mph before surgery, has returned to the mid-90s and is expected to continue making gradual improvement. His best pitch in 2000 was a sweeping slider that he learned while recovering from surgery. His changeup is another solid secondary pitch.
Weaknesses: Strength and stamina are still an issue. The White Sox believe Barcelo holds back when hes used as a starter, limiting his velocity and effectiveness.
The Future: Most organizations would love to have a guy like Barcelo in the starting rotation. The Sox are convinced hes best suited for relief. Hell begin 2001 as a setup and long reliever, but eventually could emerge as a closer.
7. Brian West, rhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 230. Drafted: HSWest Monroe, La., 1999 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Paul Provas.
Background: A highly regarded linebacker, West turned down a football scholarship at Texas A&M to sign with the White Sox. His potential as a power pitcher translated to a $1 million bonus. West was just 19 when he pitched in the Class A Midwest League all-star game, an impressive achievement for his first full season. He earned a promotion to the Carolina League but looked tired in two outings there.
Strengths: West is a terrific athlete with an intimidating build. He has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a decent curveball. He pitches down in the strike zone unusually well for a raw power pitcher.
Weaknesses: West is still developing an offspeed pitch. His control is sometimes shaky, which is why his strikeout-walk ratio belied his stuff in 2000. He needs to learn how to put away hitters.
The Future: The White Sox will take it one step at a time with West, who is likely to open the 2001 season with high Class A Winston-Salem. Hes at least two and probably three years away from getting serious consideration for a big league spot. Hes the kind of kid who could stick around for a long time once he gets there.
8. Aaron Rowand, of
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, 1998 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Ed Crosby.
Background: In another organization, Rowand might be well known by now. But his steady development has been obscured by the meteoric rise of Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordonez. Rowand nevertheless has made an impressive climb, posting all-star seasons in the Carolina and Southern leagues.
Strengths: By leading the Southern League in RBIs in 2000, Rowand added to his reputation as a run producer. He generates power from a short, quick swing and tremendous upper-body strength. He has decent speed and has used his instincts to develop into an above-average baserunner, though he doesnt project as a basestealer. Hes a good right fielder with an arm that managers rated the best in the SL.
Weaknesses: Rowand may feel that he must hit home runs to get attention. His strikeout-walk ratio has gotten worse for two straight years, with his on-base percentage declining to .321 in 2000. He needs to improve his plate discipline.
The Future: Roward could challenge for a job on the bench but needs a trade to get a shot at regular playing time. The Sox can have him spend the 2001 season in Triple-A, but something has to give.
9. Josh Fogg, rhp
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Florida, 1998 (3rd round). Signed by: Hernan Cortes.
Background: A closer at Florida, Fogg has been used almost exclusively as a starter with the White Sox. They initially placed him in that role to get him more work but have become intrigued by his potential as an innings-eating, end-of-the-rotation starter. He has had three solid seasons as a pro, going 26-18, 3.06 overall and leading the Southern League with 192 innings in 2000.
Strengths: Fogg has outstanding command, averaging just 2.5 walks per nine innings in the minors. He has an outstanding slider and a decent changeup, and he isnt afraid to throw his offspeed pitches when behind in the count. Hes an intelligent pitcher who works to hitters weaknesses.
Weaknesses: In a system loaded with hard throwers, Fogg has finesse stuff. His fastball touches the low 90s but often is in the high 80s. He doesnt operate with much margin for error.
The Future: After spending a season and a half at pitcher-friendly Birmingham, Fogg may face a tough adjustment at Charlotte, which plays in a bandbox. His chances to advance are more difficult in this system than they would be in others.
10. Jason Stumm, rhp
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HSCentralia, Wash., 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Scott Cerny.
Background: Adversity arrived early for the former all-everything from the state of Washington. Stumm, a league MVP as a quarterback and small forward at Centralia (Wash.) High, set a since-broken club record when he received a $1.75 million bonus in 1999. He made only 25 pro starts before tearing an elbow ligament and needing Tommy John surgery.
Strengths: Stumm was throwing 96-97 mph consistently before the 1999 draft. He was able to maintain that velocity late into games. Scouts and coaches rave about his character. Hes a leader and a competitor.
Weaknesses: Stumm was able to get by with his fastball in high school but needs a lot of work on his slider and changeup. The injury will cost him time toward making those improvements.
The Future: The White Sox arent too worried about Stumm. Hes still very young and theyve had plenty of Tommy John survivors in their organization, including Barcelo and Rocky Biddle. Because Stumm didnt have surgery until late in the 2000 season, hell miss most of 2001. The Sox hope he can be back in time for instructional league.
Rest of the Best:
11. Aaron Myette, rhp
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