2013 Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects Chat With Phil Rogers





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.

    Frank (Chicago): Between this year's top 10 and last year's, which has the higher ceiling overall and why? Thanks.

Phil Rogers: Thanks for the patience. Took us a bit to get set up. I'll start with an easy one. The White Sox's top 10 is much improved this year. They've added high ceiling players across the board, with Hawkins the most apparent. I like Beck a lot too, and Erik Johnson has shown why he was a high-ceiling pick when he came aboard.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Hi, Phil. Thanks for the chat. Who would you say has better plate discipline between Thompson and Mitchell at this point?

Phil Rogers: Hey Jaypers. Neither are exactly the second coming of Dustin Pedroia. I might give Mitchell the edge but he's got holes in his swing that make him vulnerable, especially against left-handers. I think Thompson is going to do a better job making contact when he swings at good pitches.

    Sammy (DC): Between Nestor Molina and Simon Castro, who came closer to breaking into your top 10? Thoughts on their seasons?

Phil Rogers: Hey Sammy. Both of those guys had tough seasons, and neither was real close to the top 10, but I know the White Sox are still excited about both of them. I still put Molina a tick above Castro because he throws so many strikes but Castro has better stuff. So I'd say Castro has a higher ceiling but Molina has a better chance to get to Chicago. Not a lot of difference between the two.

    Ben (Leland Grove): While we realize you don't contribute to BA's top 100 prospects list, how many of your top 10 do you believe are worthy?

Phil Rogers: Hey Ben. I know Courtney Hawkins is going to be a top 100 and I'll be surprised if Carlos Sanchez isn't. He might not been seen as a high-ceiling guy but he has been such a good hitter the last year and a half that I don't know how he isn't included. That's probably it although Erik Johnson or Chris Beck could jump onto it next year. So could Keon Barnum.

    Ty (Morristown NJ): Your opinions of Brandon Brennan?

Phil Rogers: Very interesting guy. He did not miss the top 10 by a whole lot. His fastball was 91-93 in the Pioneer League. Beck has a better changeup than any of Brennan's secondary stuff, which gives him an edge now, but I know Curt Hasler and other White Sox coaches were very happy with Brennan and Beck after Instructional League. Interesting guy to watch next year.

    Grant (NYC): What did scouts have to say about Tyler Saladino's year and his overall game?

Phil Rogers: Hey Grant. Lots of questions about what happened to Saladino's bat. He seemed ready for a big leap forward and instead went backward a little. I don't know if many people project him as a possible regular at this point but his versatility gives him a chance to be a utility guy. Carlos Sanchez flew by him, and I'm not sure Saladino knew how to handle that.

    Paul (Tampa FL): I noticed none of the pitchers in the top 10 made your 2016 lineup card. Could you elaborate on this for us? Thanks, Phil.

Phil Rogers: Thanks for the question, Paul. I just did some research and you're right. I can say that I had Erik Johnson and Andre Rienzo on my list when I sent it in but Gavin Floyd and Jake Peavy were added in. Seems highly unlikely those guys will be around — Floyd especially — but BA's guideline is that you can't drop a guy off because of upcoming free agency. Makes it a weird list to put together.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Did Jake Petricka's stock take a fall for you? Is he still in your top 30, and could he be a Major leaguer someday?

Phil Rogers: Hey Jaypers. I'll go with yes, yes, and yes. But I feel the shakiest about the third yes. His stock tumbled, in part because he had didn't do the greatest job handling a lack of success, but he was clearly still a top 30 guy and there's no reason he can't bounce back to get on course. It was a disappointing year for him but not the end of the road, by any means.

    southside cliffy (chicago,il): Do the Sox have any 3rd base prospects? I can't get excited about Sanchez or Ravelo due to a complete lack of power. Anyone at all?

Phil Rogers: Hey Cliffy. I saw Sanchez at the Futures Game and he sure looks like a middle infielder. I have my fingers crossed that Salt River Rafters make the AFL championship game so we can all watch him on the MLB Network. He's a little guy. But if you get power elsewhere, you could fit him into third base. I do think he winds up at shortstop or second. The only other guy is Juan Silverio. He's been around forever but is still young. He's a top 30, for me.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the pitchers moving from Bristol to Kannapolis, which impress you the most?

Phil Rogers: Absolutely, Karl. I'm told his changeup was very good in Instructional League. He has also smoothed out his delivery. He's a guy that could take a big leap next year.

    The Office Manager (Lumberyards): Will the promotion of Rick Hahn to GM and Kenny Williams to EVP effect draft and player development? Or is this not really a responsibility change and only a title change?

Phil Rogers: Hey OM. It's open for interpretation but I do believe that Rick Hahn has taken over and that KW will be in a secondary, advisory capacity. If that's the case, I think it's a huge step forward for player development. I do not think Rick will be as quick to trade young guys and he will support his scouts better, in my opinion. I thought it was a very good sign that Rick said last week he is hiring five or six scouts immediately, with at least four in Latin America. KW improved the situation in his last year as GM but it seemed very odd to me that he ignored the foundation while constantly throwing money at big-league free agents and veterans. He was not a builder. I think Rick will be.

    Grant (NYC): Is C Kevan Smith a viable prospect to you, and how do his defensive skills rate?

Phil Rogers: Smith is a good athlete but people I talk to wonder about his quickness behind the plate. He has an average arm. He will probably sink or swim with his bat but he could improve. Not sure anyone would see him with the ceiling of a big-league starter, though. The guy the Sox have who could do that is Sammy Ayala, from the 2012 draft.

    Dave (Atlanta): Do you think Deunte Heath will be in the White Sox' bullpen next season? Why did he not get more of a shot in 2012?

Phil Rogers: I would expect Heath to get a chance, assuming he stays on the 40-man. He'd be Rule 5 material if he was dropped off. I think when Brian Omogrosso pitched well it kind of filled the need that Heath would have been given a shot to fill. I know some guys with the White Sox still like him a lot. So do Baseball America types. His age works against him on these lists, as it does Omogrosso and Donnie Veal.

    Not Jaypers (Wisconsin): Phil, is the ETA on Trayce Thompson late 2013, or more llikely 2014?

Phil Rogers: I'll say late 2013. His defense in center is an edge and his power means he could get a shot if a regular goes down.

    The Office Manager (Lumberyards): What players in the top ten do you think could make significant contributions to the fighting Ventura's in 2013?

Phil Rogers: Carlos Sanchez, for sure. I think he's a very good fit as the White Sox look for higher on-base guys with more speed. The question is whether to sort of force fit him at third base or listen to trades for Alexei Ramirez and/or Gordon Beckham. I think either of those guys could be moved to open a spot for Sanchez. His showing at Double-A down the stretch and in the Fall League has guys in the Sox system convinced he is just about ready, if not completely ready. I'm intrigued. Beyond him, I think Rienzo could be a guy at some point. Thompson only in a pinch and I think Mitchell is further away than that.

    Patrick (Sandpoint, Idaho): The Sox system has been notoriously weak in recent years. What are the MLB projections for Trayce Thompson? If he's #2 in this system, then he's #? in an average system?

Phil Rogers: Hey Patrick. Thompson just barely made No. 2 on my list. I easily could have gone Carlos Sanchez above him. But the speed-power combination gives Thompson a higher ceiling. The strikeouts are a big problem, which is why the basic MLB projection on his is as the dreaded second-division regular. He has improved a little bit every year, though, and has a good work ethic. He could play his way into a long big-league career. He has really developed nicely and still has a ways to grow. He might benefit a lot from repeating a level again at some point, like he did Kannapolis in 2010-11.

    Jean-Yves Hebert (Montreal): Carlos Sanchez is listed as a future 3B here....is that just BA fitting in the pieces or do you expect some real pop out of his bat? How does his power and bat grade out?

Phil Rogers: He doesn't fit the eye as a third baseman but he drives the ball. It jumps off his bat. He could be like Chone Figgins when he was a contributor as a third baseman. But I think everyone believes he'd have more impact in the middle infield, if there was someone else to play third.

    Jon (Peoria): Hi Phil: I know that we need to take the future lineups with a grain of salt. With that said, is there anyway that Carlos Sanchez can come close to profiling there in the future?

Phil Rogers: I'm gonna take one more on this one because I think it's an interesting topic. Why couldn't you have a high OBP, speed guy as the third basemen? You've got to get power elsewhere, obviously, but I think he could contribute as a third baseman. I'm not sure that's the best thing to do to him, however, because he might be an All-Star if he hits .300 in the middle infield.

    Greg (Ohio): Why do the Sox seem to like these reclamation project college pitchers like erik johnson, snodgress, and now chris beck?

Phil Rogers: Hey Greg. I think it's trying to get top value for a pick out of the top 25 or so, where the studs go. The Beck pick this year illustrates it. The White Sox had very good reports on Florida lefty Paco Rodriguez, who wound up pitching for the Dodgers down the stretch, but they took Beck over him because Beck has a higher ceiling. Lots of teams like these type of guys.

    Bob (Santa Monica, CA): Phil, With Kenny Williams at least theoretically Rick Hahn's boss, do you expect a material change in the Sox's treatment of it's minor league system (at least below first rounders) as mainly a vehicle for trading for veterans? You have properly criticized trades like those of Gio Gonzales, Dan Hudson, and some of the other top young talent in the organization. What reason is there to think the Hahn era will be any different?

Phil Rogers: Hey Bob. I think the transition of the White Sox is interesting. None of us know how this will play out. But I don't think Rick is as impatient and impulsive as Kenny could be. I know Rick will talk to his scouts more and really listen when he does talk to them. Rick, in my opinion, really held the organization together after 2005 as Kenny just wanted to go for the jugular every year. Rick and Buddy Bell are really key guys for player development. Rick is going to trust Buddy a lot. But Rick has told me he's going to consider the same kind of tomorrow-for-today trades that I think helped sink Kenny. But to be clear, my feelings about the White Sox under Kenny weren't just trades. I think he paid lip service to the idea of building and somehow survived by spending a ton of Jerry Reinsdorf's money. I'm not sure that was real good management. He inherited a very strong farm system and didn't leave his successor his fair share in the cupboard.

    Steve (Los Angeles): Phil, How high do you expect Marcus Semien to go in the Top 30? Do you see either he or Tyler Saladino succeeding Alexei if/when Alexei gets too expensive to keep? Thanks for the time you put into this each year. For many of us, it's a highlight of the winter! Steve

Phil Rogers: Hey Steve. Thanks for the kind words. It's fun for me to do (but I'd suggest skiing if this is really a highlight). Semien should slot into the top 30 around 20, and would go higher if the White Sox had editorial control. Their organization is higher on him than the broad view. I'm not sure he's an everyday shortstop but he could become one. He has a big platoon difference as a hitter, pounding left-handed pitchers, so I think he could be a useful guy if he develops a little more versatility, even if he isn't a regular. I think Carlos Sanchez is the guy who takes over at shortstop (unless he becomes the regular second baseman and Alexei stays).

    Paul (Chicago): Phil, thanks for the chat. How close was Beck for the 10th spot on the list? I have read some skeptical comments about him wondering if this is as much a reflection of CHISOX depth as a reflection of his potential.

Phil Rogers: Hey Paul. I pushed for Beck in the top 10 so I'm glad he stayed. He definitely has the ceiling to be here but is a project. I doubt there are a lot of other systems where he would have been top 10 but I do think this is a better top 10 than it was a year ago.

    @SoxNerd (HomeOfficeUSA): Who is closer to being big league-ready: Shirek or Leesman?

Phil Rogers: Leesman for sure. Assuming he recovers well from the knee surgery he had after getting injured in the International League championship game, he could get to Chicago in a hurry. The surgery could hamper him in the spring, however, forcing him to wait until mid-season or so to again become a big-league consideration. But he's on the threshold. Shirek popped onto the radar with a jump in velocity last year. He could sneak into the picture as a bullpen arm, maybe, but I think Leesman is still a safer bet.

    JD (AZ): Phil, Sox went overslot for power hitting catcher Sammy Ayala and he struggled a bit offensively. Wondering what you have heard about him and whether he will find his way onto the top 30.

Phil Rogers: Yeah, how about that? The new CBA allowed the White Sox to take some more guys like Ayala — over slot types — and I think he's a decent gamble. He seemed headed for college but they got him and are thrilled that they did. He may be over his skis a little at the start of 2013 — most young catchers are — but he's ultra athletic and is expected to catch on quickly. Some people think he may have to move to another position eventually but good left-handed hitters behind the plate are awfully valuable. He's going to be in the top 20 this year and could be a real consideration for the organization's top 10 next time around. Good name.

    Joe (Riverside, Ca): It appears like the Sox have a well balanced group of young players. With the recent drafts of Marcus Semien and Joey Demichele up the middle, is this something we should be excited about and is there reason to think the Sox are finally trending upwards?

Phil Rogers: The White Sox have definitely reversed their slide in player development. DeMichele is an interesting hitter, for sure. He could be a high OBP guy and maybe a double-figure home run guy but the question is about his defense, and whether he can stay at second base. The Sox were encouraged after Instructional League.

    Larry (Chicago): What's the status of Rangel Ravelo? He left Kannapolis in early July, rumored to be related to a family emergency, and he never returned.

Phil Rogers: Good question. He did disappear and is currently on the restricted list. The White Sox expect him back next spring.

    John (Portland): What is Keon Barnum's ceiling? You said that you have heard comparisons to Ryan Howard, do you belief that is a reasonable comparison?

Phil Rogers: Here's a viewpoint: If Barnum does have Howard's ceiling, will the White Sox have the patience to let him get to the big leagues? Howard took forever to develop, and the Sox haven't done that with many guys. He does draw those type of comparisons, although it's probably not fair to him. I can't wait to see what he does in a full season.

    Bob (Santa Monica, CA): Nestor Molina and Simon Castro were supposed to coups for Kenny Williams, the next two starters to crack our rotation. They've both been underwhelming, to say the least, in their first years in the Sox organization. What happened?

Phil Rogers: Neither was 100 percent last year, but I'm not sure you ever read where I called them coups. Here's a funny thing about the Molina trade. I wrote this in the Chicago Tribune at the time but I'm not sure it got a lot of play. Williams said that Molina was pitching well in winter ball — RIGHT NOW! — when he announced the trade, and the Sox distributed Molina's winter ball stats, to back up what a good prospect he was. The trouble was that the Blue Jays wouldn't let him go to winter ball last season, and the winter ball performance they were trumpeting was from 12 months earlier. I think Kenny had his facts wrong when he made the trade. He has said he misspoke, but I think he might have been covering himself.

    chisoxer (St. Charles, IL): Hi Phil, Was the performance by Carlos Sanchez after being promoted to AA just a late season blip or another sign that he is coming very fast? May the Sox consider him for a Major League utility role in 2013?

Phil Rogers: Based on how Sanchez has hit this winter, I wouldn't call it a blip (although .370 is going to be tough to repeat). I've seen balls jump off his bat. He's a better hitter than a utility guy. He might be a .300-plus hitter in the big leagues, and those guys play every day. Everyone who sees Sanchez likes him as a player, but it's not clear where the Sox are going to play him. That will be one of the most interesting questions they face next spring and in the months leading to it.

    @SoxNerd (North of the oorder): Which of the farm system's catchers are closest to contributing?

Phil Rogers: Josh Phegley will be in the big leagues in 2013 after winning a Minor League Gold Glove last year. He could back up Tyler Flowers if the Sox don't go get a catcher or re-sign A.J.P. The question with Phegley is whether he'll be overmatched at the plate.

    greg (ohio): is it just me or does Andre Rienzo look like Joey Votto's long lost twin brother?

Phil Rogers: Hmmmm. I'll have to consider that one. I do agree with an old friend of mine who said that his name songs like that of an opera singer. So when I refer to him now, I call him the Opera Singer.

    Paul (Illinois): Thompson's fall league manager compared him to Stanton, but with the ability to play a excellent centerfield. Could a Matt kemp type player be in the future if he cuts down the k's like he did in AA?

Phil Rogers: He's an intriguing player but Matt Kemp? I'm not even sure Justin Upton can be Matt Kemp, at this point. What if Thompson could be Chris Young, with fewer strikeouts? That would be a very good center fielder.

    Noel (Portland, OR): Is it safe to assume Hawkins is the only one on the list who makes BA's top 100?

Phil Rogers: BA hasn't been high on White Sox players lately, for sure. But I think Sanchez might be able to hit his way into the top 100. Last time I bugged Jim Callis he said he hadn't yet submitted his list. It will be interesting to see.

    @SoxNerd (Wisconsin): What are the realistic chances of Carlos Sanchez starting at third base for the 2013 White Sox?

Phil Rogers: Very. The tight payroll and his recent surge suggests he's a guy you could look at somewhere in the infield, and third is where the opening is.

    Bob (Los Angeles): Phil, It's obviously too early to judge the 2012 draft, but other than the top couple picks, none of the picks in the first 8 rounds (and very few in the entire draft) performed well in their first professional seasons. And only two of the 2011 draft picks are in your Top 10. I know he has only been in charge for 4 drafts, but, with the Sox's minor league system still generally panned (including by BA), is Doug Laumann secure in his position with Rick Hahn now in charge?

Phil Rogers: I'd have to say that Doug is secure, as I haven't heard anything to suggest otherwise. Until 2012, the White Sox scouts had their hands tied by the organizations' unwillingness to spend in the draft — they were No. 30! I think you are right to wonder how much things will change with a new GM but Rick worked closely with KW, so I wouldn't expect much visible change.

    Rick (Boston): I love Courtney Hawkins. If he were to reach his ceiling what type numbers would you project for him?

Phil Rogers: Well, I'm no Nate Silver, but how about .285/.360/.460? That would be a good big-league over-under for him five years into his career, and you could find people to take the over. He looks very good at this point.

    D'arcy (Cincy): Thompson sounds quite intriguing. If the hit tool doesn't improve, what's his most likely scenario, still a solid regular with power/speed, or more likely something else?

Phil Rogers: If he fulfills the defensive projections in center he could stick as a big-league regular without huge contact. Devon White, maybe? Drew Stubbs?

    Aaron (West Palm Beach): Under Kenny Williams, there was a preference to trade even their top prospects for players who might be able to improve the team, like Jake Peavy, Freddy Garcia, etc, unless they could help the team immediately like (Addison) Reed. Will this change under Rick Hahn, and also, are there any current minor leaguers who the White Sox confidently project onto their future roster?

Phil Rogers: Covering old ground and I'll probably skip questions on both topics from now on but yes, I am pretty sure this will change. The White Sox will build more patiently and be less likely to trade Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson (oof!) with Rick in charge. Sanchez is the guy who projects most confidently onto the 2013 White Sox roster.

    southside cliffy (chicago,il): KW had a real love for footballers who played baseball. Do you think Rick Hahn will go away from this? It hasn't really worked out all that well. Thanks!

Phil Rogers: Back-handed answer: Did you see James Casey playing for the Texans last night? He was the guy closest on the play that was incorrectly blown dead. Good player for the Texans, and former White Sox minor-league pitcher. Seventh round from a Texas high school and released after three years in rookie balls. Great kid who pitched independent ball with Luke Hochevar and then tried football at Rice.

    @SoxNerd (Wisconsin): I heard reports of Jeff Soptic consistently hitting 100 mph at Kannapolis. What are his long term prospects?

Phil Rogers: He can hit triple-digits. He threw more strikes last year than the year before, when he was drafted, and that along with his secondary pitches will determine his development. I'm told they're going to continue starting him but you'd figure he will get to the bullpen — maybe sooner rather than later — if he throws high-90s strikes. Could be a guy like one of the many the Royals have in their bullpen.

    chisoxer (St. Charles, IL): Phil, what can you tell us about guys who just missed your top 10?

Phil Rogers: One guy we haven't said a word about is Andy Wilkins, who has had a good Fall League. He has showed power at every level he's played and could be in line for consideration if Paul Konerko really does retire after 2013. He's not the kind of tools guys scouts rave about but he's a productive hitter. We might look back one year and wonder why he wasn't a bigger prospect.

    @SoxNerd (The Planet LoveTron): Is Joe DeMichele 2012speak for Chris Getz?

Phil Rogers: Nice call. Getz's name does come up with DeMichele. In the top 30 capsule I put together I used another comparison — Adam Kennedy.

    @SoxNerd (Strawberry Fields): Speaking of football players, what is the book on Mitch Mustain? Also, thanks for doing this chat. Appreciate it!

Phil Rogers: Mustain had sort of a rough transition getting back to baseball. Seems like White Sox coaches are working to get him to trust himself and think of himself as a pitcher rather than just trying to overpower hitters. He got a taste of baseball this year and will get the real test next year.

Phil Rogers: I guess that's going to wrap it up here. Thanks to everyone who asked questions. I really do enjoy doing this. It's fun to see guys starting out and imagine where they're going to wind up. One last thing: If you have the MLB Network, set the DVR for the AFL championship game this weekend. Looks like the Rafters are going to be there. Adios.