Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Prospects

1. Ryan Sweeney, of
2. Josh Fields, 3b
3. Lance Broadway, rhp
4. Kyle McCulloch, rhp
5. Charlie Haeger, rhp
6. Aaron Cunningham, of
7. Adam Russell, rhp
8. Lucas Harrell, rhp
9. Matt Long, rhp
10. Chris Carter, 1b
Best Hitter for Average Ryan Sweeney
Best Power Hitter Josh Fields
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Ricardo Nanita
Fastest Baserunner Paulo Orlando
Best Athlete Jerry Owens
Best Fastball Adam Russell
Best Curveball Lance Broadway
Best Slider Kanekoa Texeira
Best Changeup Kyle McCullough
Best Control Heath Phillips
Best Defensive Catcher Chris Stewart
Best Defensive Infielder Robert Valido
Best Infield Arm Angel Gonzalez
Best Defensive Outfielder Ryan Sweeney
Best Outfield Arm Christian Marrero
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski
First Base Josh Fields
Second Base Tadahito Iguchi
Third Base Joe Crede
Shortstop Juan Uribe
Left Field Jermaine Dye
Center Field Brian Anderson
Right Field Ryan Sweeney
Designated Hitter Paul Konerko
No. 1 Starter Mark Buehrle
No. 2 Starter Brandon McCarthy
No. 3 Starter Freddy Garcia
No. 4 Starter Jon Garland
No. 5 Starter Lance Broadway
Closer Bobby Jenks
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Mike Cameron, of Mets
1998 Mike Caruso, ss Out of baseball
1999 Carlos Lee, 3b Rangers
2000 Kip Wells, rhp Rangers
2001 Jon Rauch, rhp Nationals
2002 Joe Borchard, of Marlins
2003 Joe Borchard, of Marlins
2004 Joe Borchard, of Marlins
2005 Brian Anderson, of White Sox
2006 Bobby Jenks, rhp White Sox
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Jason Dellaero, ss Out of baseball
1998 Kip Wells, rhp Rangers
1999 Jason Sturmm, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Joe Borchard, of Marlins
2001 Kris Honel, rhp White Sox
2002 Royce Ring, lhp Mets
2003 Brian Anderson, of White Sox
2004 Josh Fields, 3b White Sox
2005 Lance Broadway, rhp White Sox
2006 Kyle McCulloch, rhp White Sox
Joe Borchard, 2000 $5,300,000
Jason Stumm, 1999 $1,750,000
Royce Ring, 2002 $1,600,000
Brian Anderson, 2003 $1,600,000
Lance Broadway, 2005 $1,570,000
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Chicago White Sox

General manager Ken Williams, the architect of the White Sox’ World Series championship in 2005, likes to say he enjoyed that success for about 24 hours before getting to work on a repeat. He appeared to strengthen the roster with a series of offseason moves funded by a significant increase in payroll, including the additions of Jim Thome and Javier Vazquez, but Chicago ultimately fell short of returning to the playoffs.

A pitching staff built around a veteran rotation couldn’t duplicate its 2005 performance, with the staff ERA climbing from 3.61 to 4.61. The lineup picked up the pace early, helping the White Sox to a 56-29 start, but wore down late in the season. A 33-36 second half caused Chicago to slide into third place in the deep American League Central, missing the postseason despite delivering back-to-back 90-win seasons for the first time since the Sox had three straight from 1963-65.

While going backward in the standings, the White Sox flexed some new muscle in the Chicago market. They filled U.S. Cellular Field with regularity, drawing a record 2.96 million fans, nearly as many as the crosstown rival Cubs. Ratings showed that more people followed the Sox on television than the Cubs. Both of those developments were amazing considering the perception of the two franchises and their home ballparks over the last two decades.

Williams has helped change the outlook of his franchise with his aggressive approach, almost always joining the pursuit of high-profile players on the market. He doesn’t mind trading prospects for proven talent and hasn’t seen many of his deals come back to bite him. The Vazquez trade could be an exception, as he sent promising center fielder Chris Young to the Diamondbacks. Trying to improve a thin bullpen, Williams sent two other promising pitching prospects, lefthander Tyler Lumsden and righthander Daniel Cortes, to the Royals for Mike MacDougal in July.

The White Sox eventually may suffer for draining so much talent away from the farm system. Their big league club was older than all of its AL Central rivals except for the Tigers in 2006, and its window for contending may not remain open for too much longer.

Chicago did break in some young players last season, with Brian Anderson taking over in center field, Bobby Jenks saving 41 games in his first full year in the majors and Brandon McCarthy serving in middle relief while awaiting an opening in the rotation. Most of the system’s top prospects are at the upper levels, led by outfielder Ryan Sweeney and third baseman Josh Fields, who starred in Triple-A and are ready for jobs with the Sox.

But at the lower levels, there’s an alarming lack of talent. The bottom three clubs in Chicago’s system combined for a .333 winning percentage. The White Sox have leaned toward safer, more easily projected prospects in recent drafts, leading to a shortage of high-ceiling talent. They also haven’t been productive at mining international talent, prompting manager Ozzie Guillen to prod Williams for an increased effort at finding and developing players from Latin America, particularly Guillen’s native Venezuela.