Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Chicago White Sox: Scouting Reports




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after 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 April 1, 2008.

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Chicago White Sox

Few owners in baseball are more loyal than Jerry Reinsdorf. Few general managers are more aggressive than Ken Williams. Those two personalities came to a crossroads in 2007—making it impossible to overlook the deterioration of the White Sox since their World Series victory two years earlier.

After 35 years with the organization, including 14 as scouting director, Duane Shaffer was fired by Williams after he oversaw the draft in June. It was a painful move for Reinsdorf to sign off on, but one that Williams convinced him was necessary after a painfully unproductive period for the farm system, especially in terms of producing position players.

Had Shaffer wanted to engage in public mudslinging, he could have pointed out how it was the work of White Sox scouts that was primarily responsible for a 17-year stretch in which the big league club never performed poorly enough to earn a top-10 pick in the draft. That streak will end in 2008, when the Sox will pick eighth after a late surge that took them to a 72-90 finish and past the Royals for fourth place in the American League Central. Or Shaffer could have pointed out how it was the work of scouts that gave Williams a chance to pull off so many of the high-profile trades he has made.

In seven years since replacing the scout-friendly Ron Schueler as general manager, Williams has often dealt tomorrow for today with his trades. For Roberto Alomar, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Mike MacDougal, Todd Ritchie, Jim Thome, Javier Vazquez, David Wells and others, Williams repeatedly has undercut the depth of his farm system.

Williams always knew he was taking a risk that a young player would come back to bite him in a big way, and one did in 2007. Chris Young, part of the package for Vazquez, hit 32 homers and stole 27 bases as a rookie to help the Diamondbacks reach the playoffs. Meanwhile center field was a revolving door on the South Side.

But it wasn't just losing a player here or a player there that put the Sox at risk. Chicago has had a run of conservative and unproductive drafts, and the last impact pick they made was Young, a 16th-rounder in 2001. The White Sox also have done little in Latin America.

Williams was at it again in January, sending the top two prospects in the system (lefthander Gio Gonzalez and righthander Fautino de los Santos) and the top position prospect (outfielder Ryan Sweeney) to the Athletics for Nick Swisher. While the move upgraded Chicago's offense, the team's chances of contending in the rugged AL Central still look like a longshot, and the White Sox now have arguably the thinnest farm system in baseball.

Williams wanted multi-tooled position players in the draft, but those athletes didn't fall as the White Sox hoped, and they wound up taking pitchers with their first six picks. First-rounder Aaron Poreda, a southpaw, used his 95-97 mph fastball to put up a 0.93 ERA (counting two playoff starts) in the Rookie-level Pioneer League.

Chicago did find an athlete in the offseason, agreeing to terms on a four-year, $4.75 million contract with Cuban outfielder/infielder Alexei Ramirez. If red tape hadn't delayed the official signing of Ramirez, he would have ranked No. 2 on our White Sox prospect list.

1. Aaron Poreda, lhp   Born: Oct. 1, 1986B-T: L-LHt: 6-6Wt: 240
Drafted: San Francisco (2007, 1st round)Signed by: Joue Butler/Adam Virchis
Aaron PoredaBackground: The White Sox went into the 2007 draft with the stated goal of adding some athletic position players to a farm system that didn't have many. But the draft didn't break the way they hoped, and they took pitchers with their first six picks, starting with Poreda at No. 25 overall. He was the first player ever drafted in the first round out of the University of San Francisco, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that he wasn't even selected out of high school. Poreda focused more on football as a defensive end and tight end, and while he was a big, projectable lefthander, he was awkward and had an ugly arm action. He went from a walk-on to a No. 1 starter with the Dons, earning the only NCAA playoff win in school history with a 5-1 defeat of heavily favored Nebraska in 2006. Signed for $1.2 million, Poreda dominated the Rookie-level Pioneer League in his pro debut. Counting two playoff starts in which he didn't allow an earned run, he posted a 0.93 ERA.

Strengths: Poreda has a rare fastball for a lefthander. He pitched in the low- to mid-90s at San Francisco but actually gained velocity late in the season, hitting 98 mph multiple times in an August start and topping out at 100. His heater has plenty of life, too. Former White Sox scouting director Duane Shaffer said Poreda had the best sinker of any college lefthander the club scouted last spring. He has little difficulty filling the strike zone. Poreda's huge frame should allow him to handle the stress of throwing hard as well as give him durability, and he still could develop more physically. He's also very athletic for his size. His competitive makeup and his work ethic are positives as well.

Weaknesses: For a college pitcher, Poreda is quite raw, and he still needs work on the finer points of his craft. His lack of secondary pitches was the primary reason he was still available when Chicago drafted. Both his slider and changeup are works in progress. He throws from a low-three-quarters arm slot, making it difficult to stay on top of a breaking ball. He tried working from a higher slot in college, but that cost him some movement on his fastball. The White Sox were encouraged with his efforts improving the slider in instructional league, though he still needs to consistently throw it for strikes. He doesn't have much confidence in his changeup and needs to use it more often if he's going to make it better. Poreda has considerable effort in his delivery, and while he doesn't get himself into trouble with walks, his command isn't nearly as good as his control. He came down with a tender arm and was shut down for three weeks in July, but he was fine afterward and Chicago doesn't have any long-term physical concerns.

The Future: Poreda will open his first full season as a starter, either at low Class A Kannapolis or high Class A Winston-Salem, but he eventually could wind up as a bigger version of Billy Wagner coming out of the bullpen. The White Sox will monitor his secondary pitches closely this season as they try to settle on a career path for him. If they move him to relief, he could get to Chicago quickly—possibly even at season's end.
 
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Great Falls (R)
4 0 1.17 12 8 0 0 46 29 1 10 48 .181
 
2. Lance Broadway, rhp   Born: Aug. 20, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210.
Drafted: Texas Christian, 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Keith Staab.
Lance BroadwayBackground: Broadway went 15-1 as a junior at Texas Christian to pitch his way up to the 15th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and he won his first major league start last September by shutting out the Royals for six innings. He needed just 63 minor league starts to reach Chicago.

Strengths: Broadway can throw strikes with four pitches, including a plus changeup. He impressed manager Ozzie Guillen by getting strikeouts on 3-2 sliders against Kansas City, showing surprising confidence considering he hadn't started in almost a month. His curveball is also considered a plus pitch. He learned a cut fastball from pitching coach Don Cooper while spending most of September in the White Sox bullpen. He's a workout freak who has proven durable in his two full seasons as a pro.

Weaknesses: Broadway's fastball rarely gets above 90 mph, leaving him in trouble on the days when he can't command his other pitches. He was inconsistent throughout most of 2007, as his walk rate rose to 4.5 per nine innings in Triple-A, up from 2.3 in Double-A the year before.

The Future: By trading Jon Garland, Chicago increased Broadway's chances of making their Opening Day rotation. He'll compete for the No. 5 slot in the rotation. He can be a serviceable back-end starter.
 
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Charlotte (AAA) 8 9 4.65 26 26 2 0 155 155 17 78 108 .264
Chicago 1 1 0.87 4 1 0 0 10 5 2 5 14 .143
 
3. Jack Egbert, rhp   Born: May 12, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200.
Drafted: Rutgers, 2004 (13th round). Signed by: Chuck Fox.
Jack EgbertBackground: Lightly regarded while at Rutgers, Egbert has gotten better in each of his three full pro seasons. He has gone 35-24 in a system that isn't doing a lot of winning in the minors, putting himself within one rung of the big leagues. Consistently praised for his competitiveness, he quietly has improved the quality of his pitches and ranked second in the Double-A Southern League in victories (12) and strikeouts (165 in 162 innings) last season.

Strengths: Egbert throws strikes and puts pressure on hitters by coming right at them. His rapid-fire pace is a hit with everyone in the park except the hitters. He gets a lot of groundballs with his two-seam fastball, which parks in the high 80s, and his slider can be a go-to pitch at times. He has refined his changeup into a plus pitch.

Weaknesses: Egbert's fastball is fringe average and he gets hurt when he throws it up in the strike zone. Some think his delivery can get a little long, but he makes adjustments on the fly.

The Future: His performance could have dictated a second-half promotion to Triple-A, but Egbert benefited from a full year in Double-A. Projected as a No. 5 starter or swingman, he should open 2008 in Triple-A and could put himself into position to be an early callup with a strong showing in spring training.
 
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Birmingham (AA) 12 8 3.06 28 28 0 0 162 138 3 44 165 .232
 
4. Jose Martinez, of   Born: July 25, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 170.
Signed: Venezuela, 2006. Signed by: Amador Arias/Dave Wilder.
Jose MartinezBackground: Martinez made an early impact in his first season in the United States. He benefited from opening in 2007 in extended spring training before showing signs that he could develop into a complete outfielder. He wore down late in the summer at Rookie-level Bristol.

Strengths: Martinez is a good athlete with a body reminiscent of a young Juan Gonzalez. Martinez has shown the skills to hit for average but is most intriguing to scouts in batting practice, when he displays his power potential. He has a lot of room to add strength as his body matures, making it easy to see him as a middle-of-the-order hitter. He runs well, stealing 12 bases in 14 tries last season, and is a solid outfielder. He has a plus arm that plays well in right field, and he also covers enough ground to play center.

Weaknesses: Martinez is a raw package of tools. He was willing to use the whole field against righthanders but often looked to pull lefties, getting himself out on bad pitches. His plate discipline is encouraging for his age but he still strikes out too much. As he fills out, he'll slow down and most likely lose his ability to play center field.

The Future: Martinez should be ready for low Class A at age 19. He's not very polished, but he has a high ceiling and ranks as the best position prospect in the organization.
 
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Bristol (R) .282 .348 .437 245 34 69 11 3 7 37 22 53 12
 
5. Chris Getz, 2b   Born: Aug. 30, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175.
Drafted: Michigan, 2005 (4th round). Signed by: Mike Shirley.
Chris GetzBackground: Drafted by Chicago in the sixth round out of a Michigan high school and again in the fourth round after a college career split between Wake Forest and Michigan, Getz nonetheless flew under the radar until a breakout season in 2007, when he showed leadoff skills in Double-A. He missed two months with a leg injury and one manager noted that Birmingham wasn't the same without him.

Strengths: A baseball rat, Getz is fundamentally strong in all phases of the game, and he's especially adept at getting on base and putting the ball in play. He struck out just 46 times in three college seasons and almost always has more walks than whiffs as a pro. He has a short, quick swing. His arm is strong enough that he pitched at Michigan. He has average speed.

Weaknesses: Despite the strong arm, Getz profiles exclusively as a second baseman. He doesn't have great range despite having worked hard on his first-step quickness. He has no power, having hit just five homers in 202 Double-A games. He has good baserunning instincts but won't be a basestealing threat.

The Future: For the moment, Getz is below Danny Richar on the White Sox depth chart. He'll almost certainly start 2008 at Triple-A Charlotte but figures to push Richar for the big league job.
 
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Birmingham (AA) .299 .382 .381 278 40 83 10 2 3 29 36 30 13
 
6. John Ely, rhp   Born: May 17, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190.
Drafted: Miami (Ohio), 2007 (3rd round). Signed by: Mike Shirley/Keith Staab.
John ElyBackground: A product of Chicago's far South Side, Ely emerged as a prospect during his college career at Miami (Ohio). He boosted his standing for the 2007 draft with a strong showing in the Cape Cod League after his sophomore season, and did nothing to hurt it with a junior season that included a complete-game at Texas. Signed for $240,750 as a third-round pick, he has won wherever he has pitched, amassing a 59-13 record between high school, college and pro ball.

Strengths:  Ely is a strike thrower who works quickly and comes right at hitters with three quality pitches. He works with a low-90s fastball with good movement, a plus-plus changeup with sink and a curveball that improved throughout his pro debut. His fastball and changeup have a lot of life, inducing batters to beat it into the ground. He's a fierce competitor.

Weaknesses: Ely's lack of size and his maximum-effort delivery have long led to concerns about his durability among scouts. But he has never had arm problems and his mechanics add to his deception without ruining his control.

The Future: The White Sox would be best served to leave Ely's delivery alone. He should reach high Class A at some point this year and could be the first player from Chicago's 2007 draft class to reach the majors.
 
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Great Falls (R) 6 1 3.86 13 12 0 0 56 55 6 14 56 .259
 
7. Juan Silverio, ss   Born: April 18, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Vic Mateo/Dave Wilder.
Background: Given the way the White Sox historically have thrown around nickels like they were manhole covers in their pursuit of international players, it speaks highly of Silverio that he was deemed worthy of a $600,000 bonus based on the recommendation of scout Victor Mateo and special assistant Dave Wilder. In trying to restock a position of weakness, Chicago signed two other teenage shortstop from the Dominican Republic, but Alexander Adame and Daurys Mercedes don't have Silverio's ceiling.

Strengths: Silverio shows all five tools at shortstop. He combines a quick bat with upper-body strength, enabling him to drive the ball around the park. He has a strong arm and a quick first step in the infield. He runs well, though organization officials project him more in the Miguel Tejada mold than as a true basestealer.

Weaknesses: There's still a lot of projection remaining in Silverio's frame, so there's concern he could outgrow shortstop and have to move to third base. His skills are untested because he has yet to make his pro debut, but he encouraged club officials when he held his own as a 16-year-old in instructional league.

The Future: Silverio figures to open 2008 in extended spring training, preparing to play at Rookie-level Bristol. The White Sox will need to develop him patiently—he likely won't be knocking on the major leagues' door until 2011—but the payoff could be huge. He's already by far the best shortstop prospect in the system.
 
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Did Not Play—Signed 2007 Contract
 
8. John Shelby Jr., of   Born: Aug. 6, 1985. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 190.
Drafted: Kentucky, 2006 (5th round). Signed by: Mike Shirley.
John ShelbyBackground: Shelby led Kentucky to its first-ever Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 2006, then signed with the White Sox as a fifth-round pick. He may have a better bat than his father, former big league outfielder and current Orioles first-base coach John "T-Bone" Shelby.

Strengths: Shelby's bat was the primary reason Chicago drafted him, and he continued to hit in low Class A. He flashed his power, compiling 60 extra-base hits, while getting on base enough to project as a possible No. 2 hitter. He runs well and shows signs of making a successful transition to center field after playing mostly second base in college and in his first pro season. He's a solid worker and teammate.

Weaknesses: While he made progress with his center-field play, Shelby still has work to do. He struggles at times with his routes to balls, though his instincts and speed help cover his mistakes. His biggest defensive drawback is an arm that will challenge opponents to run on him. He'll need to show more patience to bat near the top of a big league batting order.

The Future: The White Sox have moved Shelby slowly, and he'll probably open 2008 in high Class A. But if he continues to hit, he could get a look in Double-A before the season is over and could reach Chicago by the end of 2009.
 
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Kannapolis (Lo A) .301 .352 .508 488 83 147 35 9 16 79 35 77 19
 
9. Adam Russell, rhp   Born: April 14, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 250.
Drafted: Ohio, 2004 (6th round). Signed by: Nathan Durst/Larry Grefer.
$PLAYER_NAME$Background: Russell had a breakout season in 2006 and opened eyes in camp last spring, when his 95 mph fastball and sharp curveball made him a favorite of scouts in Arizona. But he seemed to have a letdown when he wound up back in Double-A, opening 2007 in the rotation and ending it in the bullpen.

Strengths: Russell throws a 91-94 mph fastball from a variety of arm slots, emulating Jose Contreras after a suggestion in mid-2006 from Winston-Salem pitching coach J.R. Perdew. Russell's curveball is a plus pitch at times. He's as subtle as a lumberjack, using his build to gain some intimidation and durability.

Weaknesses: Russell's secondary pitches lag behind his fastball. Hitters don't chase his curveball out of the strike zone and his changeup isn't effective. He can get out of whack mechanically in a hurry and has a hard time getting himself back on track. The Sox would like him to work faster as he can think too much on the mound.

The Future: While Russell has pitched primarily as a starter in the minors, relieving appears his most likely path to the big leagues. He pitched well in that role in the Arizona Fall League and will compete for a big league job in spring training. He also could benefit from spending at least half a year in Triple-A.
 
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Birmingham (AA) 9 11 4.80 38 20 0 1 139 159 8 58 95 .290
 
10. Kyle McCulloch, rhp   Born: Dec. 2, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190.
Drafted: Texas, 2006 (1st round). Signed by: Keith Staab.
Kyle McCullochBackground: By the nature of their status and signing bonuses, first-round picks almost always create a buzz in a farm system. However, the low-key McCulloch has been almost buzzproof since the White Sox selected him 29th overall in 2006 and handed him a $1.05 million bonus. He's a winner and an innings-eater, but he lacks the stuff to become a front-of-the-rotation starter.

Strengths: His best pitch is his plus changeup, which he throws in the high 70s to complement a fastball that generally sits in the high 80s, occasionally climbing to 91 mph. While he won't overpower hitters, he does get a lot of groundouts, a point of emphasis for the organization. A standout shortstop in high school, he shows athleticism and competitiveness.

Weaknesses: McCulloch has had problems with his delivery, which gets long. His lack of velocity leaves him little margin for error, and after he got to Double-A last year, he stopped challenging hitters as much as he had in the past. He rarely got into counts where he could use a splitter he developed last season. He throws his curveball for strikes but it's a fringy pitch.

The Future: McCulloch will get another test from Double-A hitters this season. He'll need to have more success against them to start generating some buzz.
 
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Winston-Salem (Hi A) 7 7 3.64 22 22 0 0 121 116 7 42 88 .251
Birmingham (AA) 1 2 6.41 6 6 0 0 26 38 4 11 16 .333

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Photo Credits:
Denny Wright (Poreda)
Steve Moore (Egbert)
Sports On Film (Martinez)
Bill Mitchell (Getz, Shelby Jr.)
Paul Gierhart (Russell)
Andrew Woolley (McCulloch)