2013 Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects With 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.


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Chicago White Sox

Ken Williams got the keys to the White Sox when predecessor Ron Schueler walked away after a 95-win playoff season in 2000. After 12 seasons as general manager, Williams would have loved to go out in similar fashion. Instead, he stepped aside to make room for Rick Hahn, his longtime assistant, after a season that saw the Sox lead the American League Central for four months before an 11-17 September dropped them behind the Tigers and out of the playoffs.

The 2012 White Sox were like all of Williams' teams: competitive mostly because of talent imported for the short haul rather than a homegrown core with staying power. Chicago made its run in part because Williams' deals for Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy and Alex Rios turned around, but in the end the team overachieved to win 85 games. The good news was that the organization showed signs of getting back to its roots in scouting and player development.

The last two No. 1 prospects on this list, Chris Sale and Addison Reed, emerged as building blocks for the pitching staff. Sale went 17-8, 3.05 in his first year as a starter, while Reed converted 29 of 33 save opportunities as a rookie. Hector Santiago, a 30th-round draft-and-follow in 2006, opened the season as the closer and ended it as a probable member of the 2013 rotation. The White Sox added another quality young arm in Jose Quintana, a minor league free agent recommended by scouts Joe Siers and Daraka Shaheed. Quintana hadn't pitched above high Class A before 2012, but he proved to be a lifesaver when John Danks injured his shoulder.

For once, Williams resisted the urge to trade top prospects. He bolstered the big league club by dealing for Francisco Liriano, Brett Myers and Kevin Youkilis without giving up any youngsters who will be missed.

One nagging issue for the franchise was a sixth consecutive season of decreased attendance at U.S. Cellular Field. Chicago drew 1,965,955 fans to rank 24th in the majors. Williams, whose new job title is executive vice president, will try to help owner Jerry Reinsdorf turn around that troubling trend.

The club did reverse another negative by investing more heavily in the draft. After spending less money on bonuses ($18.3 million) than any team during the 2007-11 drafts, the White Sox paid $6.5 million for their 2012 draftees. That included $2.475 million—the third-highest draft bonus in franchise history—for 13th overall pick Courtney Hawkins.

After a decade of relative inactivity in Latin America, the White Sox also began rounding up talent more aggressively under Marco Paddy, who left the Blue Jays to take a job as special assistant to the GM in charge of international operations. Paddy's most significant signing in 2012 was power-hitting Dominican third baseman Luis Castillo for $450,000.

Two of the White Sox's three highest affiliates finished as runners-up in their playoffs. Triple-A Charlotte went to the International League finals, featuring a lineup that included three of the system's best position players in outfielders Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson and shortstop Carlos Sanchez. High Class A Winston-Salem had the Carolina League's best regular-season record at 87-51 and made its playoff run with Chicago's top picks in the last two drafts (Hawkins and outfielder Keenyn Walker) and two of its best pitching prospects (Erik Johnson and Scott Snodgress).
1. Courtney Hawkins, of Born: Nov 12, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 220
Drafted: Carroll HS, Corpus Christi, Texas, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Keith Staab
Courtney HawkinsBackground: The White Sox didn't need Courtney Hawkins to do a backflip to show off his athleticism, but he did one anyway for the MLB Network after the Sox took him with 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He's a Texan with the speed and strength to be a football star, but he chose baseball and quickly became a standout. He has been a favorite of scouts since helping Carroll High of Corpus Christi win the Texas 5-A title as a sophomore in 2010, when he earned MVP honors in the clincher as a starting pitcher. The White Sox got to know Hawkins in the summer of 2011 during the Double Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field, an event honoring the history of Negro League baseball in Chicago. Hawkins helped Carroll get back to the 5-A final as a senior before signing for $2.475 million, the third-highest draft bonus in franchise history. He played well at three levels of pro ball, finishing the season at high Class A Winston-Salem and homering twice in the Carolina League playoffs. Hawkins has the kind of talent Chicago's system has lacked over the last decade, and the club might not have risked drafting him if not for the new restrictions on bonus spending, which White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf helped push through. Chicago hadn't taken a high school player in the first round since Kris Honel in 2001.

Scouting Report: Hawkins has tremendous bat speed, strength and leverage, which combine to give him well above-average power. As a 16-year-old, he launched a monster shot into the upper deck at Round Rock's Dell Diamond in the 2010 state playoffs. Though the White Sox pushed him aggressively in his pro debut, he homered 10 times in 66 games, counting the postseason. Hawkins' swing can get long, which contributes to his tendency to strike out a lot. He could improve as a hitter if he cut down on the effort in his swing, as his bat stays in the hitting zone for a long time. He needs to do a better job recognizing pitches. Chicago is confident that he'll be able to make those adjustments. Hawkins has solid speed and currently runs well enough to play center field, though he may lose a half-step as he continues to mature physically, which would push him to an outfield corner. He won't be a significant basestealer but runs the bases well. His fastball sat in the low 90s as a pitcher and that arm strength is a major asset in the outfield.

The Future: Hawkins has the potential to become the best all-around outfielder the White Sox have produced since Mike Cameron, in part because he has shown the ability to grasp the subtleties of the game. Hawkins has the makings of a middle-of-the-order hitter and solid right fielder, with an outside chance of staying in center. He'll probably return to Winston-Salem to begin his first full pro season. It will be interesting to see whether an organization starved for homegrown impact players will allow him a full season at each minor league level or shortcut his development to write him into the picture in 2015, an option year in Alex Rios' contract.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Bristol (R) 147 25 40 8 1 3 16 7 37 8 2 .272 .314 .401
'12 Kannapolis (LoA) 65 11 20 5 2 4 15 4 17 3 2 .308 .352 .631
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 17 3 5 2 0 1 2 0 2 0 1 .294 .294 .588
Minor League Totals 229 39 65 15 3 8 33 11 56 11 5 .284 .324 .480

2. Trayce Thompson, of Born: Mar 15, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Santa Margarita Catholic HS, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., 2009 (2nd round). Signed by: George Kachigian
Trayce ThompsonBackground: A rare above-slot signing for the White Sox, Thompson got $625,000 as a second-round pick in 2009. After repeating low Class A in 2011, he took off in 2012, leading the Carolina League in homers (22), extra-base hits (55) and RBIs (90) and reaching Triple-A Charlotte. He's the son of former NBA No. 1 overall pick Mychal Thompson and the brother of NBA players Klay and Mychel Thompson.

Scouting Report: Thompson offers a combination of power and speed along with the ability to play center field at a high level. He has worked hard to shorten a long, uppercut swing and use the entire field. He still strikes out too much, in large part because he gets fooled on a lot of breaking pitches. Thompson used his solid speed to steal a career-high 21 bases in 2012 and improved his reads and jumps in center field. He has solid arm strength.

The Future: Farm director Nick Capra says Thompson has a chance to be a superstar but he also has to continue to get better. The key will be making more consistent contact after fanning 338 times in the last two seasons. He'll be tested in Double-A Birmingham in 2013 and could receive big league consideration the following year.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Bristol (R) 85 8 16 3 1 0 10 4 33 2 0 .188 .247 .247
'09 Great Falls (R) 21 2 5 0 0 0 0 3 8 1 0 .238 .333 .238
'10 Kannapolis (LoA) 210 28 48 13 3 8 31 21 69 6 4 .229 .302 .433
'11 Kannapolis (LoA) 519 95 125 36 2 24 87 60 172 8 4 .241 .329 .457
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 449 77 114 28 5 22 90 45 144 18 3 .254 .325 .486
'12 Birmingham (AA) 50 10 14 1 1 3 6 8 16 2 0 .280 .379 .520
'12 Charlotte (AAA) 18 1 3 2 0 0 0 2 6 1 0 .167 .250 .278
Minor League Totals 1352 221 325 83 12 57 224 143 448 38 11 .240 .319 .446

3. Carlos Sanchez, ss/2b Born: Jun 29, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175
Signed: Venezuela '09 Signed by: Amador Arias
Carlos SanchezBackground: While the White Sox were falling behind internationally, Venezuelan scout Amador Arias still found infielder Eduardo Escobar (since traded to the Twins for Francisco Liriano) and Sanchez. The latter won the Carolina League batting title (.315) in 2012, then hit .370 in Double-A. He has played all over the infield, including an appearance at third base in the 2012 Futures Game.

Scouting Report: Sanchez first stood out with his glove in pro ball. In 2011, Kannapolis manager Tommy Thompson said Sanchez was as good defensively as any second baseman he has ever seen. He has enough arm to play on the left side and the Sox haven't ruled him out as a shortstop. He has quick hands that are good on the double-play pivot and a quick first step. Offensively, Sanchez features a short swing and good bat speed, hitting line drives from both sides of the plate. He offers little power and needs to walk more often. He has average speed and runs the bases aggressively.

The Future: While Alexei Ramirez (2015) and Gordon Beckham (2016) are under White Sox control for several years, Sanchez could make one of them trade bait. A potential Gold Glover, he could play shortstop in Triple-A in 2013 before making a push for the big leagues.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 White Sox (R) 32 7 5 0 0 0 3 8 10 1 0 .156 .341 .156
'10 White Sox (R) 156 26 42 5 2 1 18 41 26 7 3 .269 .431 .346
'11 Bristol (R) 16 4 4 1 0 0 3 5 2 1 2 .250 .500 .313
'11 Kannapolis (LoA) 264 44 76 10 1 1 27 15 49 7 8 .288 .341 .345
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 365 58 115 14 6 1 42 31 64 19 10 .315 .374 .395
'12 Birmingham (AA) 119 17 44 9 1 0 13 10 22 7 5 .370 .424 .462
'12 Charlotte (AAA) 39 4 10 2 0 0 1 0 6 0 0 .256 .256 .308
Minor League Totals 991 160 296 41 10 3 107 110 179 42 28 .299 .379 .369

4. Erik Johnson, rhp Born: Dec 30, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 240
Drafted: California, 2011 (2nd round).  Signed by: Adam Virchis
Erik JohnsonBackground: White Sox coaches were thrilled when Johnson arrived at their Arizona complex in 2011, with one saying, "This is what we're looking for." After he recovered from shoulder fatigue in spring training that delayed his 2012 season until June, Johnson posted a 2.53 ERA in 17 regular season starts and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the first round of the Carolina League playoffs.

Scouting Report: Johnson uses his strong build to throw a low-90s fastball that peaks at 96. His slider is a potential plus pitch with depth and bite, and his curveball is nearly as good. He's still learning to add and subtract from his changeup, which lags behind his other pitches. He worked diligently on his changeup during instructional league, with club officials encouraged by the results. Johnson has refined his mechanics since signing, which has paid off with some extra velocity and improved control late in the 2012 season. He still needs to prove he can hold up over the course of a full season.

The Future: White Sox scouts compare him to Curt Schilling, though realistically Johnson's ceiling is more as a No. 3 starter. A lack of pitching depth was an issue for Chicago down the stretch in 2012, and it has no starting pitching prospect with as much upside as Johnson. He could open 2013 in Double-A and compete for a big league rotation spot in 2014.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Great Falls (R) 0 0 4.50 2 0 0 2 4 1 1 0 1 2 .400
'12 Kannapolis (LoA) 2 2 2.30 9 9 0 43 39 15 11 3 19 39 .232
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 4 3 2.74 8 8 0 49 43 19 15 0 10 48 .225
Minor League Totals 6 5 2.59 19 17 0 94 86 86 27 3 30 89 .234

5. Keenyn Walker, of Born: Aug 12, 1990 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Central Arizona JC, 2011 (1.5 round).  Signed by: John Kazanas
Keenyn WalkerBackground: A star defensive back in high school, Walker drew football interest from Boise State and some Pacific-12 Conference programs. He chose to play baseball at Central Arizona JC, where he led national juco players with 70 steals and became Chicago's top pick (supplemental first round) in 2011. Signed for $795,000, he topped the system with 56 swipes in his first full pro season.

Scouting Report: Walker's plus-plus speed allows him to run wild on the bases and cover a lot of ground in center field. He likes to play shallow and has a solid arm. His quickness also allows him to collect infield hits, and his ability to draw walks gives him strong on-base skills. However, Walker strikes out too much from both sides of the plate. The White Sox have worked with him on widening his stance and improving his pitch recognition. He doesn't have much power from either side but is a little more dangerous as a lefty.

The Future: Walker struggled when he got to high Class A in mid-July, so he'll probably return to Winston-Salem to begin 2013. He'll need time to develop and may not be ready for the majors until the end of 2015. If he can make adjustments at the plate, his speed and on-base ability would fit nicely in Chicago's lineup.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'11 Great Falls (R) 60 16 20 7 1 0 9 7 17 11 5 .333 .431 .483
'11 Kannapolis (LoA) 162 25 37 1 2 0 15 14 64 10 4 .228 .296 .259
'12 Kannapolis (LoA) 266 53 75 15 5 1 39 50 93 39 11 .282 .395 .387
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 143 31 34 7 1 3 16 24 50 17 4 .238 .345 .364
Minor League Totals 631 125 166 30 9 4 79 95 224 77 24 .263 .363 .358

6. Scott Snodgress, lhp Born: Sep 20, 1989 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Stanford, 2011 (5th round).  Signed by: Adam Virchis
Scott SnodgressBackground: Snodgress never put the pieces together at Stanford, going 4-7, 5.47 in three seasons. Nevertheless, the White Sox loved his size and arm strength enough to draft him in the fifth round in 2011, and he has had much more consistent success as a pro. He finished his first full pro season with eight strong starts in high Class A.

Scouting Report: Snodgress has improved his delivery and experienced a jump in velocity since signing, now operating at 91-93 mph and hitting 95 with his fastball. His curveball and his changeup also have gotten better, though the latter still needs more work. He no longer telegraphs his changeup by slowing his arm speed but still doesn't throw it for strikes consistently. Snodgress' overall command and composure are two more areas in which he has made strides as a pro. He has some natural deception in his delivery, which allows him to be effective against righties as well as his lefties.

The Future: Snodgress should get to Double-A at some point in 2013. He still needs to throw more strikes, but if he continues to make strides toward mastering a three-pitch mix, he could develop into a No. 3 starter. At worst, he should have late-inning value as a lefthanded reliever.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Great Falls (R) 3 3 3.34 16 12 0 59 61 32 22 5 17 68 .255
'12 Kannapolis (LoA) 3 3 3.64 19 19 0 99 86 49 40 4 49 84 .225
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 4 0 1.50 8 8 0 42 26 10 7 2 15 44 .171
Minor League Totals 10 6 3.11 43 39 0 200 173 173 69 11 81 196 .224

7. Andre Rienzo, rhp Born: Jul 5, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 160
Signed: Brazil '06 Signed by: Orlando Santana
Andre RienzoBackground: Left off Chicago's 40-man roster following a disappointing 2011 season, Rienzo didn't endear himself to the club when he got hit with a 50-game suspension in April for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Once he returned, he pitched well in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. Brazil tabbed him to pitch for its World Baseball Classic team, and he could be the first pitcher from his nation to reach the majors.

Scouting Report: Rienzo's fastball usually sits it the low 90s and touches 95, running in on lefthanders. But it was his improved secondary pitches that helped him hold opponents to a .206 average in 2012. He throws his overhand curveball in the upper 70s, getting swings and misses. He has started to use his low-80s cutter more often, and it too has been effective. Rienzo hasn't added much size or strength since signing, and his ultra-thin build doesn't fit the profile of a big league starter. Neither does his lack of command or an effective changeup.

The Future: Rienzo is knocking on the door of the big leagues. His work in Triple-A in 2013 will determine whether he arrives as a starter or reliever. His most realistic ceiling is as a set-up man, but he also could be a No. 4 starter.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'07 White Sox2 (R) 1 1 7.63 7 3 0 15 16 15 13 1 11 22 .258
'08 White Sox 2 (R) 2 1 1.64 5 4 0 22 17 5 4 0 6 22 .205
'08 White Sox 1 (R) 3 0 0.96 3 3 0 19 15 3 2 0 3 22 .211
'09 Bristol (R) 2 6 4.14 13 9 0 54 55 28 25 4 13 49 .252
'10 Kannapolis (LoA) 8 4 3.65 20 18 0 101 95 45 41 5 32 125 .239
'11 Winston-Salem (HiA) 6 5 3.41 25 22 0 116 108 50 44 4 66 118 .237
'12 Winston-Salem (HiA) 3 0 1.08 4 4 0 25 17 3 3 0 7 31 .185
'12 Birmingham (AA) 4 3 3.27 13 13 0 72 56 31 26 2 33 72 .207
'12 Charlotte (AAA) 0 0 0.00 1 1 0 7 5 1 0 0 2 10 .200
Minor League Totals 29 20 3.30 91 77 0 431 384 384 158 16 173 471 .229

8. Keon Barnum, 1b Born: Jan 16, 1993 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 225
Drafted: King HS, Tampa, 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Joe Siers
Keon BarnumBackground: The White Sox haven't developed many power hitters in recent years, so they looked to change that by taking Courtney Hawkins with their first pick and Barnum with their second in the 2012 draft. Signed for $950,000, he has drawn comparisons to Ryan Howard and Fred McGriff. Barnum homered three times in his first five professional games, but then missed six weeks with a shoulder injury and wasn't the same after he returned to the field.

Scouting Report: Barnum has more raw power than Hawkins, using his long arms to hit balls hard and with enviable loft. He can crush all but the very best fastballs and has the strength to get hits even when he's jammed. But a lot of scouts consider him a one-trick pony. Barnum struggles to control his oversized strike zone, easily gets fooled by breaking balls and can look clueless by chasing bad pitches. Chicago wants to shorten his swing, which can get loopy at times. He has fringy speed and solid arm strength. His defense at first base needs work, and he may be able to give left field a try.

The Future: Barnum likely will open his first full pro season at low Class A Kannapolis. His plus-plus raw power could play very well at U.S. Cellular Field, but he could need 2,000 pro at-bats before he's polished enough to be ready to play there.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Bristol (R) 43 6 12 1 0 3 8 5 13 0 0 .279 .347 .512
Minor League Totals 43 6 12 1 0 3 8 5 13 0 0 .279 .347 .512

9. Jared Mitchell, of Born: Oct 13, 1988 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Louisiana State, 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: Warren Hughes
Jared MitchellBackground: Mitchell was an electrifying athlete who won national championships in baseball and football (as a wide receiver) at Louisiana State. The 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft, he signed for $1.2 million and immediately ranked as the organization's top prospect. But he hasn't been quite the same player since he crashed into an outfield fence in spring training in 2010, tearing tendons in his left ankle that resulted in him missing the entire season.

Scouting Report: Mitchell has a quick bat, the willingness to work counts and solid speed, so he should be able to hit for average. But he's patient to a fault, often falling behind in the count and struggling when he does so. He has struck out 362 times in his two full pro seasons. He has a lot of holes in his long swing and is especially ineffective against lefthanders. He has average raw power. Mitchell is still aggressive on the bases, though he's no longer the plus-plus runner he was before his injury. He was less tentative in center field in 2012 than he was the year before. He's a solid defender with an average arm.

The Future: Unless he can make some major adjustments at the plate, Mitchell may not be more than a platoon player in the big leagues. He's ticketed for a full year in Triple-A in 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Kannapolis (LoA) 115 13 34 12 2 0 10 23 40 5 3 .296 .417 .435
'11 Winston-Salem (HiA) 477 74 106 31 8 9 58 52 183 14 6 .222 .304 .377
'12 Birmingham (AA) 334 51 80 13 12 10 54 62 126 20 5 .240 .368 .440
'12 Charlotte (AAA) 121 18 28 11 1 1 13 16 53 1 1 .231 .329 .364
Minor League Totals 1047 156 248 67 23 20 135 153 402 40 15 .237 .341 .402

10. Chris Beck, rhp Born: Sep 4, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Georgia Southern, 2012 (2nd round).  Signed by: Kevin Burrell
Chris BeckBackground: After a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, Beck projected as a top 10 overall selection for the 2012 draft. But his stock dropped as he lost his arm slot and much of his command during the spring, and the White Sox signed him for $600,000 as the No. 76 choice. Their pick came down to him and Paco Rodriguez, who went at No. 82 and reached the big leagues in September with the Dodgers.

Scouting Report: When he's right, Beck has a classic pitcher's frame and the stuff to go with it. He worked at 91-94 mph and touched 96 mph in 2011, though he operated at 89-93 mph throughout 2012. His mid-80s slider/cutter is filthy at times albeit also inconsistent, and his changeup shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch. Chicago believes Beck's problems stemmed from being overweight and lowering his release point. He has to work to keep his mechanics and command in order. He seemed to find a better arm slot working with White Sox coaches but needs innings to refine the changes and do a better job of repeating his pitches.

The Future: Beck will open his first full pro season in low Class A. He'll advance quickly if he stays in shape and develops more consistency, with the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter if it all comes together.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Great Falls (R) 4 3 4.69 15 6 0 40 51 27 21 3 12 36 .297
Minor League Totals 4 3 4.73 15 6 0 40 51 51 21 3 12 36 .298