White Sox Prospects 2-10
2. Miguel Olivo, c
Age: 24. B-T:
R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Signed:
Dominican Republic, 1996. Signed by:
Miguel Garcia (Athletics).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Age: 22. B-T:
R-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted:
HS—Thomasville, Ala., 1999 (9th round). Signed
by: Warren Hughes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8. Felix Diaz, rhp
22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican
Republic, 1998. Signed by: John DiPuglia/Carlos Ramirez (Giants).
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.
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.
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.
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
9. Arnie Munoz, lhp
20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican
Republic, 1998. Signed by: Denny Gonzalez.
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.
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.
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.
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
10. Royce Ring, lhp
Age: 22. B-T:
L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215. Drafted: San
Diego State, 2002 (1st round). Signed by:
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
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.
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.
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.
Best of the Rest
Restocking their pitching shelves, the
White Sox added six prospects in four deals made in the week before the July 31
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.
Copyright 2002 Baseball America. All rights reserved.|
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.