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White Sox Prospects 2-10

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Prospect Handbook
Does 10 prospects per team only whet your appetite? How does 30 sound? If you want the more of in-depth information you're finding here on three times as many players, Baseball America's 2003 Prospect Handbook is for you.

2. Miguel Olivo, c

Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996. Signed by: Miguel Garcia (Athletics).

Background: Olivo's cannon arm always has drawn attention, and the White Sox believe they've helped him develop into a solid hitter as well. He has climbed through the minors slowly, spending the last two seasons in Double-A after two in high Class A. He led Birmingham to the Southern League championship, winning playoff MVP honors with four homers, then went deep off Andy Pettitte in his first big league at-bat.

Strengths: Olivo's arm is as strong as any in the big leagues, including that of Pudge Rodriguez. He's a solid hitter who has improved his approach, becoming somewhat more selective. He has excellent speed for a catcher. He not only had 29 steals while playing for ultra-aggressive Birmingham manager Wally Backman, but also led the team with 10 triples.

Weaknesses: While he has shown power at times in his career, Olivo's extra-base numbers dropped in his second Double-A season. He'll have to continue to improve his receiving skills and ability to handle major league pitchers.

The Future: With Mark Johnson gone to Oakland, Olivo has a good chance of opening the season in Chicago with a solid spring. Veteran Josh Paul doesn’t have nearly the upside he does.

2002 Club (Class)

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

Birmingham (AA)

.306

.381

.479

359

51

110

24

10

6

49

40

66

29

Chicago

.211

.286

.421

19

2

4

1

0

1

5

2

5

0

3. Anthony Webster, of

Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Parsons, Tenn., 2001 (15th round). Signed by: Ken Stauffer/Larry Grefer.

Background: An outstanding high school tailback, Webster picked baseball over football and is proving his instincts to be as good as his ability. Despite rough edges and a lack of amateur pedigree, he has come out firing as a pro, hitting .330 in his first two pro seasons while scoring 96 runs in 116 games. He led Bristol to the Rookie-level Appalachian League title.

Strengths: Webster is reminiscent of a young Marquis Grissom, though he's still learning how to put his explosive speed and his raw power to use on a diamond. He's a natural hitter and made tremendous strides in his approach in 2002, drawing as many walks as strikeouts. He plays the game with a vengeance.

Weaknesses: Despite his strength, Webster has one homer in two pro seasons. He lacks experience, which sometimes leads to him trying to force the action in center field. He'll have to prove he can hit the quality breaking pitches he'll see in full-season leagues.

The Future: Webster will open 2003 as a teenager at low Class A Kannapolis. He's a good candidate for step-by-step development but has the talent to force his way upward quickly if he continues to play like he has thus far. All the tools are there for him to develop into an all-star.

2002 Club (Class)

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

Bristol (R)

.352

.448

.418

244

58

86

7

3

1

30

38

38

16

4. Kris Honel, rhp

Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HS—New Lenox, Ill., 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Ken Stauffer/Nathan Durst.

Background: Honel is a rare package for a Chicago team—an elite prospect who knew the way to the city's ballparks before signing a contract. He grew up in the city's Southwest suburbs before going 16th overall in the 2001 draft, the highest an Illinois prep pitcher had been taken since Bob Kipper went eighth in 1982.

Strengths: Honel has the basic package that scouts look for, starting with a low-90s fastball and a breaking ball that keeps hitters off his heater. His velocity was down a little in 2002 but was still plenty good because of his command of other pitches. His knuckle-curve, which acts like a slider, might be his best pitch. His fastball is rarely straight, often getting devastating late movement.

Weaknesses: A shortfall in experience is about the only remaining issue. Honel made strides with his mound presence in 2002 and showed that the elbow problems he developed late in 2001 were nothing to be overly concerned about.

The Future: Honel will start 2003 at high Class A Winston-Salem. He could be in the mix for Comiskey Park by late 2004, but the Sox haven't gotten great results from recent prospects they rushed to the big leagues, including Jon Garland, Kip Wells and Dan Wright.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

Kannapolis (A)

9

8

2.82

26

26

0

0

153

128

12

52

152

.228

Winston-Salem (A)

0

0

1.69

1

1

0

0

5

3

0

3

8

.150

5. Jon Rauch, rhp

Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-11. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Morehead State, 1999 (3rd round). Signed by: Larry Grefer.

Background: Coming off shoulder surgery that sidelined him for most of 2001, Rauch inexplicably was pushed by the White Sox. GM Ken Williams erred by allowed him to win a big league job out of spring training, and manager Jerry Manuel exacerbated a bad situation by sitting him for two weeks in April without getting him into a game. Rauch didn't get into a rhythm until the second half.

Strengths: The tallest pitcher in major league history, Rauch parlays his height into unusual arm angles on all his pitches. He's seemingly on top of batters when he releases a pitch, allowing his 91-92 mph fastballs to look much harder. More than just a power pitcher, he has a smooth delivery and throws strikes with two above-average breaking balls.

Weaknesses: Rauch is something of a frontrunner, pitching very well when he hits on all cylinders but vulnerable to big innings. His control wasn't as sharp as it had been before surgery, though that may have been due to how he was handled.

The Future: Unlike in 2002, Rauch goes to spring training believing he’s ready to pitch in the big leagues. He could be headed back to Triple-A, as Chicago may want him to get on a roll before turning to him again.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

Charlotte (AAA)

7

8

4.28

19

19

1

0

109

91

14

42

97

.226

Chicago

2

1

6.59

8

6

0

0

29

28

7

14

19

.248

6. Corwin Malone, lhp

Age: 22. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—Thomasville, Ala., 1999 (9th round). Signed by: Warren Hughes.

Background: After making huge strides in 2001, the one-time linebacker slowed down in 2002, mostly because of control problems. He might have done his best pitching of the season in a March 31 exhibition at Pacific Bell Park, where he blew away the Giants en route to Double-A Birmingham, where he had finished the previous year. Elbow problems ended Malone's season after 22 starts.

Strengths: Malone has the ability to overpower hitters with a fastball that can climb to 93 mph. His natural deception earns him comparisons to Vida Blue. His curveball has tremendous snap on it when his mechanics are under control. He's athletic and coaches rave about his eagerness to learn.

Weaknesses: Malone tried to throw fewer fastballs in 2002 and paid for it. He didn't command the strike zone as he had the year before, and his walks rose as his strikeouts dipped. He spent much of spring training working on his changeup and seemed to force it into his arsenal, at the cost of too often falling behind in the count.

The Future: The White Sox believe Malone will be completely healthy in 2003, when he's expected to earn a spot in the Triple-A rotation. He showed improvement after deciding to be more aggressive, and if he gets off to a fast start could join the Chicago rotation in the second half.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

Birmingham (AA)

10

7

4.71

22

22

0

0

124

116

6

89

89

.248

7. Andy Gonzalez, ss

Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Drafted: HS—Melbourne, Fla., 2001 (5th round). Signed by: Ken Stauffer, Hernan Cortes.

Background: An all-around athlete, Gonzalez opened eyes immediately after being drafted. He and fellow 2001 draft pick Webster have made a smooth transition to pro ball and should continue climbing the ladder together.

Strengths: Gonzalez has the tools to last as a shortstop and is a dangerous hitter who has batted .298 as a pro with 75 RBIs in 114 games. While balls jump off his bat, his best tool might be his arm. Some clubs considered drafting Gonzalez as a pitcher. He covers ground well at shortstop and has improved his fundamentals greatly since being drafted.

Weaknesses: Because the Sox opted to give him time in extended spring training in 2002, Gonzalez hasn’t had to face a year-long grind of playing games. He’s expected to develop some power but went deep just once in 2002.

The Future: Gonzalez' stock will soar if he goes to low Class A and duplicates his Rookie-ball success. He could move quickly in a system that lacks middle-infield depth and gives the Sox a chance for their first homegrown regular at shortstop since Bucky Dent in 1976.

2002 Club (Class)

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

Bristol (R)

.280

.358

.358

254

48

71

17

0

1

45

32

43

5

8. Felix Diaz, rhp

Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998. Signed by: John DiPuglia/Carlos Ramirez (Giants).

Background: Once considered the crown jewel of San Francisco's increased efforts in Latin America, Diaz was deemed expendable among a wealth of power righthanders in the organization. The White Sox landed him in a deadline deal for Kenny Lofton.

Strengths: Diaz throws gas. He often works in the mid-90s and has a hard slider that he throws in the mid-80s. His changeup is also a plus pitch. He has all the pitches he needs to dominate.

Weaknesses: Durability is a major question for Diaz, who missed time with a tender arm in 2001 and an ankle injury in 2002. He generates tremendous arm speed from a slight body and hasn't stayed healthy for an entire season. He aged one year in baseball’s birthdate crackdown, but he still wasn't old for Double-A.

The Future: The sky's the limit for Diaz and his low-mileage arm. It's possible the White Sox will move him to the bullpen, hoping he'll become another Francisco Rodriguez, but for now he'll get a chance to climb as a starter. If he doesn't open in Triple-A, he should be there at season's end, trying to put himself in Chicago's 2004 plans.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

Shreveport (AA)

3

5

2.70

12

12

1

0

60

54

1

23

48

.240

Birmingham (AA)

4

0

3.48

7

6

0

0

31

25

4

8

30

.207

9. Arnie Munoz, lhp

Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998. Signed by: Denny Gonzalez.

Background: Because the baby-faced Munoz isn't intimidating and has been used in the thankless role of middle relief, he has escaped attention. But there's no overlooking his results. He asserted himself by pitching well in Class A in 2001, then skipped a level and was unfazed by Double-A as a teenager. He was pitching lights out in the Dominican this winter.

Strengths: There aren't many minor league curveballs better than the Zito-esque one Munoz possesses. His fastball parks in the 87-89 range and can be run up to 91 when needed. Those two pitches alone can make him unhittable for all but the best lefthanders. An improved changeup and a consistent sinker help him attack righties. His pickoff move freezes runners.

Weaknesses: Munoz wears down after 30-40 pitches, losing his arm angle, which flattens out his pitches. He has averaged 4.6 walks per nine innings as pro, though he cut that mark to 3.6 in 2002.

The Future: While a stop in Triple-A is likely, Munoz could give the White Sox the same second-half lift they received when Mark Buehrle joined the bullpen in 2000. Munoz should occupy a set-up role, but it's not far-fetched to project him as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

Birmingham (AA)

6

0

2.61

51

0

0

6

72

62

6

29

78

.231

10. Royce Ring, lhp

Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215. Drafted: San Diego State, 2002 (1st round). Signed by: George Kachigian.

Background: Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a theme song (Metallica's "Sad But True"), Ring was one of the best shows in college baseball in 2002. He made a name for himself by sprinting in from the bullpen, pawing at the mound and then throwing as hard as possible. That formula helped him set San Diego State records for saves in a season and career, and got him drafted 16th overall in June.

Strengths: Ring is a perpetual motion machine who comes at hitters. His fastball can be an overpowering pitch. His slider and changeup are also effective. He wants the ball with the game on the line.

Weaknesses: His control isn't considered a major problem, but Ring will get to Comiskey Park quicker if he cuts down on his walks. His weight was an issue at San Diego State and bears watching.

The Future: College closers drafted in the first round don't have the greatest history as pros, but Ring could be the exception to that rule. The Sox hope he'll take the fast track to the majors, but there's a crowd of lefty relievers ahead of him, headed by Damaso Marte, Dave Sanders and Arnie Munoz. Ring could open 2003 in Double-A and may get a look in Chicago in September.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

AZL White Sox (R)

0

0

0.00

3

0

0

0

5

2

0

0

9

.118

Winston-Salem (A)

2

0

3.91

21

0

0

5

23

20

2

11

22

.247

Best of the Rest
New Arms Welcomed

Restocking their pitching shelves, the White Sox added six prospects in four deals made in the week before the July 31 trading deadline.

The best of those is righthander Felix Diaz, who came from San Francisco for Kenny Lofton. He throws in the mid-90s and stepped in immediately at Double-A Birmingham, helping the Barons win the Southern League championship. The Sox also were impressed by righthander Jon Adkins, acquired from Oakland for Ray Durham. Adkins got shelled in Triple-A but also throws in the low 90s and received a spot on the 40-man roster.

While Kris Honel has received the bulk of attention, the White Sox have several interesting pitching prospects who have flown under the radar. Righthander Brian Miller was the top high school pitcher in Michigan in 2001 but slid in the draft because of his commitment to Michigan State. The Sox didn't take no for an answer, signing him at the last minute, and were rewarded when his fastball jumped to the mid-90s in 2002.

Among other pitchers to watch who have joined the organization in the last two years are lefthanders Daniel Haigwood, Ryan Rodriguez and Ryan Wing, plus righthander Brandon McCarthy. After going 43-1 during his high school career in Arkansas, Haigwood led the Rookie-level Arizona League with eight victories in his pro debut last summer.

Back to page one.


The Top 10 Prospects lists are based on players' projected long-term worth and on discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of Opening Day 2003.

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