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. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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Chicago White Sox

White Sox general manager Ken Williams basked in the glow of a World Series title in 2005, the only one on either side of Chicago in the last 83 years. His maneuvering in 2004 and '05 played a huge role for that championship team, as he added players such as Jose Contreras, Jermaine Dye, Freddy Garcia and A.J. Pierzynski with money freed up by the discarding of Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordonez.

But 2005 is a long time ago.

In 10 seasons as GM, Williams has gotten the White Sox into the playoffs twice. His 2010 team featured just two truly homegrown regulars, Mark Buehrle and Gordon Beckham. Beuhrle and Paul Konerko, the franchise's two cornerstone players during Williams' decade at the helm, already were in the organization when he replaced Ron Schueler after a 95-win season in 2000.

An old-school type, Schueler believed in the importance of scouting and player development. When the White Sox made the White Flag trade in 1997 and then let Albert Belle and Robin Ventura leave after 1998, Schueler reinvested those salaries in amateur talent (an admirable strategy, even if Joe Borchard did get $5 million). By contrast, Williams has shown little patience as a GM, constantly borrowing from tomorrow for today.

As a result of Williams' willingness to trade prospects for veterans and the team's bungled efforts in Latin America, Chicago has one the weakest farm systems in baseball. While Williams has dealt away 53 players (and counting) who have been ranked on Baseball America's annual White Sox Top 30 Prospects lists, few have come back to bite him—though righthander Daniel Hudson did go 7-1, 1.69 in 11 starts after being shipped to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson in July.

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf rarely lets his team exceed Major League Baseball's bonus recommendations in the draft, a philosophy that has also hurt the farm system. The White Sox gave out just $3.9 million on bonuses in the 2010 draft, the fifth-lowest total in the majors, though first-round pick Chris Sale emerged as their closer by season's end. Chicago ranks last over the last five years with a total of $18.5 million in bonuses.

The one area in which Chicago has invested heavily is in Cuban players. The White Sox are happy with the return on the $4.75 million major league contract they gave Alexei Ramirez in December 2007, and still have high hopes for slugging prospect Dayan Viciedo, who got a $10 million big league deal a year later.

Williams remains popular with much of the White Sox's fan base, as it's easy to buy into his attempts to win as many games as possible every season. Critiques of his performance generally focus on his tempestuous relationship with manager Ozzie Guillen, which could get worse if several holes can't be filled on the big league roster.

Three of the nine regulars in Chicago's 2010 lineup became free agents, most notably Konerko, and the farm system doesn't offer a wealth of internal options. Brent Morel is a candidate to start at third base and Viciedo is a possibility at first base or DH, but the White Sox will have to look outside the organization for a catcher if Pierzynski leaves and Konerko could be badly missed if he walks.

1.  Chris Sale, lhp   Born: March 30, 1989B-T: L-LHt: 6-6Wt: 172
 Drafted: Florida Gulf Coast, 2010 (1st round)Signed by: Joe Siers
Chris SaleBackground: Sale not only became the first player from the 2010 draft to reach the big leagues, but he also overpowered the likes of Joe Mauer and Jim Thome and finished the season closing games for a contender. His quick rise couldn't have been forseen when he came out of Lakeland (Fla.) High. The Rockies selected him in the 21st round of the 2007 draft, but he failed to attract interest from Florida's college powers and wound up at Florida Gulf Coast, which started its program in 2003. He got off to a rough start, with an awful fall ball season where his only usable pitch was his changeup. He worked out of the bullpen as a freshman, then lowered his arm slot that summer and improved the velocity and life on his pitches. He exploded as a prospect by ranking as the top talent in the summer Cape Cod League after his sophomore season, then went 11-0, 2.01 with 146 strikeouts in 103 innings last spring. Some clubs rated him as the best college pitching prospect in the 2010 draft, but teams also worried about his asking price, making him available to Chicago with the No. 13 overall pick. The White Sox adhere to MLB's bonus guidelines more than any club, and they signed Sale for the slot recommendation of $1.656 million—along with the promise that he'd get every opportunity to race through the minors. He made his big league debut on Aug. 6, faster than any draftee since the Reds' Ryan Wagner in 2003.

Scouting Report: Sale has the stuff and lanky build to be a facsimile of future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, throwing three plus pitches from a low three-quarters delivery. His fastball ranged from 90-95 mph with outstanding late life when he worked as a starter in college, and he averaged 96 mph coming out of the bullpen in the majors. He hit 100 mph three times in one game against the Royals. Chicago considered his changeup his best pitch when it drafted him—GM Ken Williams compares it to Mark Buehrle's—but he didn't use it much while working out of the bullpen. Sale used his slider more as a reliever, and it also played up, sitting in the high 80s and topping out at 90. That was important as his slider was questioned coming into the draft. His command is solid, though his arm angle leads to times when he doesn't stay on top of his pitches and leaves them up in the zone. Sale is unusually poised, capable of making adjustments on the fly and pitching out of trouble. It would have been understandable if he had arrived wide-eyed in the big leagues, but like a young Buehrle, he seemed oblivious of his surroundings. Some scouts wonder how durable Sale will be because of his skinny frame, arm action and low slot. He has no history of arm problems, however.

The Future: Despite his immediate impact on their bullpen, the White Sox plan on developing Sale as a starter. He'll get the chance to make their rotation out of spring training, though it's more realistic to expect him to open the season at Triple-A Charlotte. If he stays healthy, he has the stuff to be a frontline starter or a closer.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Winston-Salem (Hi A) 0 0 2.25 4 0 0 0 4 3 0 2 4 .200
Charlotte (AAA) 0 0 2.84 7 0 0 0 6 3 2 4 15 .136
Chicago (AL) 2 1 1.93 21 0 0 4 23 15 2 10 32 .185
2.  Brent Morel, 3b/ss   Born: April 21, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 220
 Drafted: Cal Poly, 2008 (3rd round)Signed by: Gary Woods/Derek Valenzuela
Brent MorelBackground: A mature player who has handled every test in three pro seasons, Morel spent September as Chicago's third baseman. He hit .435 to win the Arizona Fall League batting title in 2009, then .322 last season.

Scouting Report: Morel has a compact, line-drive swing and does an excellent job recognizing pitches and adjusting to how pitchers are working against him. He covers the plate well and doesn't get overly anxious with two strikes, though he sometimes expands the strike zone, which limits his walk totals. He has shown more doubles than home run power, and some scouts question how much pop he'll have in the big leagues unless he adds more loft to his swing. Morel is an intelligent fielder with first-step quickness and a solid arm. He had strictly been a third baseman until moving to shortstop when Dayan Viciedo returned to Charlotte in August, and played errorless defense in 17 games there. He's a below-average runner.

The Future: Morel has a shot at winning the White Sox's third-base job in 2011. Other options include Mark Teahen, Viciedo and Omar Vizquel, but Morel has more all-around upside than any of them.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Birmingham (AA) .326 .376 .440 184 25 60 13 1 2 30 14 36 5
Charlotte (AAA) .320 .348 .503 306 40 98 24 4 8 34 13 50 3
Chicago (AL) .231 .271 .415 65 9 15 3 0 3 7 4 17 2
3.  Dayan Viciedo, 1b/3b   Born: March 10, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 240
 Signed: Cuba, 2008Signed by: Doug Laumann/Jose Ortega
Dayan ViciedoBackground: An organizational favorite who has never let a $10 million big league contract affect his work ethic and interaction with teammates, Viciedo shook off a lackluster 2009 pro debut to hit 25 homers last season. That included five longballs in the majors during a midseason trial while Mark Teahen was on the disabled list. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen nicknamed him "The Tank."

Scouting Report: Viciedo's strength, bat speed and hand-eye coordination give him game-changing power. But he rarely sees a pitch he doesn't like—he didn't draw a big league walk until his 83rd plate appearance—and pitchers can exploit his lack of patience. He has a strong arm and has worked hard on his defense at third base, but he's a well below-average athlete and runner who lacks quickness. He's not nearly as good a defender as Brent Morel and projects more as a first baseman or DH. He has done a good job with his conditioning since arriving overweight when he signed, but he could balloon if he loses focus.

The Future: Given Viciedo's production as a rookie, not to mention Chicago's financial commitment, he could get a chance to earn a regular spot in the big league lineup in 2011, either at DH or on an infield corner. His lack of plate discipline could hold him back, however, and he could use some Triple-A time to work more on his defense.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Charlotte (AAA) .274 .308 .493 343 42 94 15 0 20 47 11 78 1
Chicago (AL) .308 .321 .519 104 17 32 7 0 5 13 2 25 1
4.  Jared Mitchell, of   Born: Oct. 3, 1988B-T: L-LHt: 5-11Wt: 192
 Drafted: Louisiana State, 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Warren Hughes
Jared MitchellBackground: Mitchell won national championships in football and baseball at Louisiana State, winning MVP honors at the College World Series shortly before signing for $1.2 million as the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft. He was the most electric player in the White Sox' big league camp early last spring, but tore a tendon in his left ankle after colliding with the outfield wall in a game against the Angels. The injury cost him the entire 2010 season.

Scouting Report: Mitchell is a tremendous athlete with good baseball aptitude despite his two-sport background, but he also has more learning to do. He's a promising hitter with an idea of the strike zone. He has some unnecessary movement in his approach, which Chicago has worked to smooth out. Before he got hurt, Mitchell showed the plus-plus speed to steal bases and cover the gaps in center field, though he's still honing his instincts in both areas. He doesn't have a lot of power, and it's possible that his below-average arm could relegate him to left field.

The Future: The White Sox considered sending Mitchell to Double-A before he got hurt, and now they'll move him less aggressively. He returned to action in the Arizona Fall League but his speed hadn't fully returned, which is crucial to his game. Chicago believes he'll be back to 100 percent by spring training and ready to open 2011 at high Class A Winston-Salem.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Did Not Play—Injured
5.  Eduardo Escobar, ss   Born: Jan. 5, 1989B-T: B-RHt: 5-10Wt: 150
 Signed: Venezuela, 2006Signed by: Amador Arias
Eduardo EscobarBackground: Escobar is a highly skilled fielder who could be the next in the long line of White Sox shortstops from Venezuela (Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Guillen, Omar Vizquel). He enjoyed his best season at the plate in 2010, driving the ball better than in the past and totaling 43 extra-base hits, one shy of his total in four previous pro seasons. He was off to an excellent start in the Arizona Fall League, hitting for surprising power.

Scouting Report: Escobar is a technically solid shortstop with plus range and a quick release that helps him get outs with an average arm. He sometimes tries to force plays, though he made just 25 errors in 136 games last season, a respectable amount for a 21-year-old shortstop. His bat remains a question mark, especially from the left side of the plate. He does have some strength that he has started to tap into, but power won't be a big part of his game and he needs to focus on doing a better job of controlling the strike zone. He has good speed but hasn't developed into a basestealing threat.

The Future: The White Sox are pleased with Alexei Ramirez at shortstop, but Escobar could provide an alternative if he continues to make strides at the plate. He'll likely begin 2011 back at Double-A Birmingham but could earn big league consideration during the season.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Winston-Salem (Hi A) .285 .327 .402 368 57 105 18 8 3 39 23 76 8
Birmingham (AA) .262 .294 .376 202 22 53 8 3 3 22 9 35 3
6.  Gregori Infante, rhp   Born: July 10, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 185
 Signed: Venezuela, 2006Signed by: Amador Arias
Gregori InfanteBackground: Nearly 19 when he signed in 2006, Infante was old for a Latin American prospect entering pro ball. In his first four pro seasons, primarily as a starter, Infante lacked consistency and developed blisters late in games. The White Sox decided to try him as a full-time reliever in 2010, and he shot from high Class A to the the big leagues. He didn't allow a run in five September appearances for Chicago.

Scouting Report: Infante can light up a radar gun as much as anyone in the system, working at 94-98 mph and capable of breaking triple digits, though he doesn't always know where his fastball is going. His secondary pitches need work, but he does have a power curveball that can buckle knees when it's on. He also has a mid-80s changeup, though he doesn't need it much in relief. He gets a lot of groundballs and didn't allow a home run in 2010.

The Future: Infante could push to make the White Sox with a strong spring training. He has pitched just 31 innings above Class A and none in Triple-A, so he might be better off with some time in Charlotte. His raw power stuff gives him a ceiling as a closer, though his ultimate role will depend on how much command he develops.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Winston-Salem (Hi A) 1 2 3.48 31 0 0 9 34 32 0 15 35 .250
Birmingham (AA) 2 2 3.42 24 0 0 3 26 23 0 12 34 .235
Chicago (AL) 0 0 0.00 5 0 0 0 5 2 0 4 5 .133
7.  Jacob Petricka, rhp   Born: June 5, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-5Wt: 170
 Drafted: Indiana State, 2010 (2nd round)Signed by: Mike Shirley
Jacob PetrickaBackground: The White Sox drafted Petricka in the 38th round out of a Minnesota high school in 2006, but had to wait four years to sign him. He had Tommy John surgery as a freshman at Iowa Western CC, and his velocity began to rise when he was a redshirt sophomore at Indiana State in 2009, when the Yankees drafted him in the 34th round. Petricka returned to the Sycamores, continued to add velocity and signed for $540,000 as a second-round pick in June.

Scouting Report: Petricka has a powerful, relatively low-mileage arm. He usually pitches at 92-96 mph with his fastball, and Chicago clocked him at 100 during his first pro summer. He holds his velocity deep into games. He has developed a solid breaking ball as his No. 2 pitch and he flashes a serviceable changeup. To keep his innings down, he moved to the bullpen after a promotion to low Class A Kannapolis. Relief may be his best role, because he has just one plus pitch and sometimes has difficulty repeating his delivery, which costs him command.

The Future: The White Sox lack starting-pitching depth, so Petricka will remain in the rotation for now. He's still learning how to use his stuff and shouldn't be expected to move as quickly as recent Chicago draft picks Daniel Hudson and Chris Sale. Petricka should open 2011 in high Class A.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Bristol (R) 2 4 2.86 8 8 0 0 35 25 1 7 38 .197
Kannapolis (Lo A) 0 1 3.72 9 0 0 0 10 13 0 8 10 .295
8.  Brandon Short, of   Born: Sept. 9, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 175
 Drafted: St. John's River (Fla.) CC, 2008 (28th round)Signed by: Joe Siers
Brandon ShortBackground: "Irrepressible" might be the word that best fits Short, who signed for $20,000 as a 28th-round pick in 2008. He made a positive impression on White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen when brought over to big league camp during spring training, then hit .352 in the first two months of the 2010 season before cooling off. He missed the final two weeks of the season with a strained oblique.

Scouting Report: Short has shown steady development as a hitter in each of his three pro seasons. His edge comes from unusually quick hands that allow him to let pitches get in deeper on him before he commits. He's able to fight off good pitches and punish hangers. He's learning to drive the ball more consistently. He likes to hack and seldom works walks. Short has average speed and a below-average arm and split time between right and center field in 2010. His baserunning instincts are a liability, and he hasn't learned to read pitchers.

The Future: Short is on the same career path that John Shelby III was on a couple of years ago, and 2011 will show if he can avoid stalling in Double-A like Shelby did. He may be a tweener, lacking the range to be a regular center fielder and the true power to be an everyday player on an outfield corner in the big leagues.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Winston-Salem (Hi A) .316 .365 .491 491 77 155 31 5 15 79 28 107 7
9.  Trayce Thompson, of   Born: March 15, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 200
 Drafted: HS—Santa Margarita, Calif., 2009Signed by: Mike Baker
Trayce ThompsonBackground: The son of former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Mychal Thompson, Trayce is one of just three players to receive an over-slot bonus from the White Sox in the last five drafts, joining Gordon Beckham and outfield prospect Jordan Danks. Signed for $625,000 as a second-round pick in 2009, Thompson got off to a slow start in his first full pro season before a pitch shattered his right thumb in late May, sidelining him for nearly three months.

Scouting Report: As an athletic slugger from Southern California's high school ranks, Thompson drew some comparisons to Mike Stanton as an amateur. He's definitely a high-ceiling player with enormous power potential, but filling Stanton's spikes will be tough. He has hit just .218 as a pro, in large part because he chases breaking pitches out of the strike zone. He has a long swing that leads to high strikeout totals. He's young, however, and has shown an ability to make adjustments. He has solid range and speed to go with average arm strength, but needs to be more aggressive in the field and on the bases.

The Future: Thompson will return to low Class A in 2011. He'll need time to develop, but few White Sox prospects can match his potential. He wants to stay in center field but seems destined for a corner spot.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Kannapolis (Lo A) .229 .302 .433 210 28 48 13 3 8 31 21 69 6
10.  Anthony Carter, rhp   Born: April 4, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 180
 Drafted: Georgia Perimeter JC, 2005 (26th round)Signed by: John Tumminia/Alex Slattery
Anthony CarterBackground: Like Gregori Infante, Carter took off in 2010 after moving to the bullpen in his fifth pro season. He had instant success, tying for the Double-A Southern League lead with 22 saves. He followed that with a successful stint with Team USA in the fall, making four scoreless appearances and earning a save against highly-regarded Cuba in the Pan Am qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.

Scouting Report: Carter can get outs in the late innings with his fastball, which sits at 93-94 mph and spikes as high as 97, though he gets into trouble when he leaves it up in the strike zone. He complements his heater with an 80-84 mph slider that grades as a plus pitch at times. He also can fool hitters with a changeup on occasion. His high three-quarters delivery provides some natural deception. In order to succeed at higher levels, he'll need to be more consistent with his control and command. He handled lefthanders easily in 2010 (.154/.245/.264) but surprisingly struggled against righties (.282/.338/.479).

The Future: Carter figures to open 2011 as Charlotte's closer, but the White Sox are revamping their bullpen and will give him a long look in spring training. He could make his big league debut later in the year. His realistic ceiling is as a set-up man.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Birmingham (AA) 1 4 3.92 46 2 0 22 57 47 6 22 58 .226

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Photo Credits:
Ron Vesely (Sale)