Tracking The Affiliation Shuffle
The affiliation shuffle kicks off Sept. 16 and begins a two-week period when clubs can negotiate agreements with unattached affiliates. Consider it free agency for minor league teams. Teams had […]
Top Ten Prospects: Chicago White Sox
Complete Index of Top 10s
By 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. Ages are as of April 1, 2005.
Winning now is the goal for the White Sox. That’s why general manager Ken Williams traded for veterans Carl Everett and Roberto Alomar in midseason deals in both 2003 and 2004.
That’s right, two years in a row Williams has added Everett and Alomar. To acquire Everett twice, the White Sox have given up five prospects, including righthanders Frankie Francisco and Jon Rauch, to the Rangers and Expos.
Williams didn’t stop there. He made one of baseball’s biggest deals in 2004, acquiring Freddy Garcia from the Mariners for catcher Miguel Olivo and two of Chicago’s top prospects, outfielder Jeremy Reed and shortstop Michael Morse. Williams has traded 17 players who have ranked among the team’s top 30 prospects in the last three years.
And he’s not about to apologize for it.
“Two words: nineteen seventeen,” Williams said, referring to the last year the White Sox won the World Series. “How many more generations of fans are going to have to wait? I don’t want to wait.’’
It’s a risky course of action for an organization that operates on a tight budget. Yet Williams feels he has little choice but to aggressively pursue trades because he hasn’t been successful in signing free agents.
The White Sox have moved Joe Crede, Willie Harris and Aaron Rowand from their farm system to their lineup, while Jon Adkins and Neal Cotts have claimed bullpen roles. But Chicago expected a bigger harvest, only to see high hopes for outfielder Joe Borchard and pitchers Kris Honel, Corwin Malone and Rauch dashed by injuries and inconsistency.
Borchard, who signed for a record $5.3 million in 2000, had another disappointing year in 2004. He started the season at Triple-A Charlotte and batted .174 in 63 big league games after being promoted to replace the injured Magglio Ordonez. His strikeout woes extended into the offseason, when his Mexican Pacific League club released him because of his lack of production. Honel made just two starts because of a sore shoulder, while Malone had Tommy John surgery before the season started. Rauch angered Williams by leaving U.S. Cellular Field early after getting hit hard in a May start, then was exiled to Montreal two months later.
There were some positive developments, however. Righthanders Brandon McCarthy and Sean Tracey took huge steps forward. McCarthy led the minors with 202 strikeouts in 172 innings, while Tracey started to harness the best fastball in the system.
Chicago’s last two drafts have provided an infusion of talent. Outfielders Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney, the club’s first two picks in 2003, played well in big league camp and then had solid 2004 seasons. Anderson advanced to Double-A and may not be that far away from contributing in the majors.
Third baseman Josh Fields, the No. 18 overall pick in 2004, contributed immediately in high Class A. The White Sox had six picks in the first two rounds and used four of them to stock up on lefthanders. Gio Gonzalez made the top 10 list, while Tyler Lumsden, Wes Whisler and Ray Liotta weren’t far behind.
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