2023 Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects Chat

Bill Mitchell answered questions regarding the White Sox system. You can read the transcript here.

Bill Mitchell: Welcome to the annual White Sox prospect chat. This is my second year covering their system, and I believe we have a better story to tell this year as you’ll see when I take the first question in the queue. Let’s get started!

Don (Illinois):

     Has the White Sox minor league system improved enough to rank in the middle of the pack in Major League Baseball?

Bill Mitchell: Don, the system has definitely improved from the last few years, with the strength and development of the righthanded pitching most impressive. I don’t believe the depth is there to push the organization into the middle of the pack, but instead more around the mid-20s. But it’s certainly trending in the right direction.

Toy (New York):

     Jared Kelley and Peyton Pallette were two highly rated arms that are not accounted for in your projected 2026 lineup, what is a realistic upside for them at this point given Kelley’s performance thus far and Pallette’s injury risk.

Bill Mitchell: Toy, I will start with my usual caveat not to read too much into the projected future lineups. It’s a fun exercise that the readers like, but not to be taken too seriously. With that said, with the aforementioned depth in righthanded pitching along with the current big league starters, there wasn’t room for everyone who could be in the rotation in three or four years. I’m eager to see Pallette when he’s healthy because his pre-injury college reports were really, really good. Kelley took steps forward this year, with development still ahead to improve his pitchability and command. There is still a pretty good chance that he provides more value as a back-end reliever, but for now he’s being developed as a starter.

Patton (Chicago, IL):

     In what is arguably one of the worst farm systems in the game, it is surprising to see that Yoelqui Cespedes can’t event crack the White Sox top ten. His stock plummeted from #2 in BA 2022 list to #9 in the mid-season list. Is there any chance he can become an everyday major leaguer?

Bill Mitchell: Patton, thanks for asking about Cespedes. He’s got the tools, but his aggressive approach at the plate leads to plenty of swings-and-misses, both up in the zone on good fastballs and down and away on breaking balls. The most glaring numbers are the 154 strikeouts to just 29 walks. That’s his biggest area for improvement. For now, the consensus is that he profiles as a 4th outfielder capable of handling all three OF positions.

Warren (New London):

     Colson Montgomery has always reminded me of Scott Rolen, because of his size, basketball background, and being from the same part of Indiana. I didn’t see him at that level a year ago, but after his excellent 2022 season it now seems possible. I don’t remember anyone suggesting that Rolen should play shortstop 20 years ago, although maybe he would in today’s game. Do you think Montgomery can stay lean enough to remain at shortstop, or will the presence of Tim Anderson lead him to bulk up a little more?

Bill Mitchell: Warren, the Rolen comp is an interesting one and I’m sure the White Sox would be ecstatic if Montgomery has that kind of career. Montgomery is up to around 220 pounds now and there are few doubts that he can stay at shortstop. Where the body goes from here is up to Montgomery and the White Sox strength & conditioning staff. I don’t see that he’ll bulk up just because he might need to change positions. He could play anywhere in the infield at his current size.

J.P. (Illinois):

     Hi Bill, thanks for the chat. What’s your opinion of Wilfred Veras, specifically his ceiling and future position (first or third)?

Bill Mitchell: Hello J.P., as to your question whether Veras will play first base or third, the answer is neither. He was switched to the outfield in instructional league and is mostly playing left field in the Dominican Winter League. That’s likely his position moving forward, with perhaps a chance in right field if he improves both his arm strength and accuracy of his throws. Regardless, it’s all about the bat for Veras, and he projects to hit enough for any position. It’s middle-of-the-order raw power. You’ll be able to read more about him when the Prospect Handbook arrives in your mailbox.

Wes Kath (Home):

     What went wrong with me this season, and what do I need to improve upon to get back onto your top 10?

Bill Mitchell: Kath, the White Sox 2nd round pick after Montgomery in 2021, needs to follow a slower development path. The best news was how responded to a down season late in the year when he posted a .926 with six of his 13 home runs during the month of August in Low-A. He needs to improve his pitch recognition and also work on the body to get more twitchiness and quickness. Be patient with this one.

Trent (Springfield):

     Jared Kelley had a decent amount of buzz when drafted, but injuries and not great performance seem to have led to have descending on the White Sox prospect list. Has his future outlook changed significantly or is there still a decent hope that, being still very young, he will pop and become an impact pitcher down the road?

Bill Mitchell: Trent, there’s still plenty of hope for Kelley. After battling injuries in 2021, he had a nice bounceback season in 2022. He got back to using his changeup more and increased the use of his two-seamer to get groundballs. This really was Kelley’s first full season, coming after the COVID year in 2020 and throwing less than 25 innings in 2021. He needs to continue to work on conditioning his big body and improve his pitchability.

James (NC):

     Is Colson Montgomery an actual clone of Corey Seager? How much stock should we put into his poor numbers at AA? Do we chalk it up to small sample size or is there any cause for concern? I guess that was 3 questions. Thanks!

Bill Mitchell: James, don’t worry about Montgomery’s numbers in Birmingham. It’s a small sample in what was a rather unique development environment with their “Project Birmingham,” in which many of the better prospects and most of their minor league instructors were gathered in a different kind of instructional environment. While Montgomery gets compared to Seager as a big, strong growing shortstop, I would never call him a clone. The power is starting to emerge, but we don’t know that he’ll be another Seager. We will just wait to see what will be the best version of Colson Montgomery.

James (Chicago):

     Bill, do you have outfielder and recent 11th rounder Jacob Burke ranked in the 11-30 range? Thanks.

Bill Mitchell: James, the final 11-30, plus the extra bonus of the 31-40 list, will be finalized before the Handbook goes to press, but Jacob Burke should be in there somewhere. Drafted his past year out of Miami and paid an over-slot bonus, the comment I got on Burke is that he plays like his hair’s on fire. A very interesting guy.

Warren (New London):

     Although he struck out an awful lot and didn’t hit for average, Wes Kath still showed substantial improvement in 2022. What’s your view of him at this point? In a system this weak, especially in position players, surely he must still be in the 30?

Bill Mitchell: Warren, I covered Kath in a previous question. I’ll add that he is still in the top 30.

Casey (Bothell, Wa):

     Thanks for doing this. Have you seen Jose Rodriguez play? Is he viable as a defensive SS? What does his potential impact in the big leagues look like to you?

Bill Mitchell: Casey, Rodriguez had a slow start but recovered and put together a nice season before he got hurt, with more power emerging late in his season. He can play shortstop, as well as moving around to other infield positions. If he keeps developing, there should be enough bat for a regular role, but I could see him thriving and having a long career in a utility role.

Don (Illinois):

     What causes some scouts to think Jose Rodriguez of the White Sox is more a utility players as oppose to a starting player at SS/2nd base since he is young for every league he has been in ?

Bill Mitchell: Don, see my answer to the previous question. It’s more a question of bringing together the total game on a daily basis. Scouts notice that he’s sometimes nonchalant on defense and he needs to keep developing his hittability, so there’s still room for growth. But as you said, he’s been young for every level so keep monitoring him as he develops.

Noah (LA):

     Hi there, Where are you at on Jordan Sprinkle? Will he hit enough to be a first division regular?

Bill Mitchell: Noah, we need to see which version of Sprinkle emerges after more time as a pro. Will it be the hitter from his sophomore year at UC Santa Barbara, when he was getting first round buzz, or what he looked like in his junior year when his power went backwards. There may be some swing adjustments that can help him get back to the power that he showed earlier in his college career. He’s got tools and can be a plus defender at shortstop, so there’s a lot to be optimistic about with Sprinkle. Give him time to settle in as a pro and work with the White Sox hitting development staff.

Sean (Boston):

     I’m surprised to see Lenyn Sosa at #10, and not higher. What concern do scouts have? I feel like his year was underrated, particularly given how strongly he finished in AAA.

Bill Mitchell: Sean, 2022 was a good growth season for Sosa, especially with the extra work he put in prior to the season, getting him onto the org top ten. It’s more high floor than ceiling for Sosa, with the only above-average tool being his defense at second and third base. He should have a nice major league career, just perhaps not as an every day guy but rather a valuable player off the bench in a utility role.

Sleepy Harold (IL):

     Who would be your candidate for a breakout “under the radar” prospect in the 2023 season?

Bill Mitchell: Harold, thanks for a question that allows me to talk about several lesser-known prospects. For a player still ranked pretty highly, there’s Tanner McDougal coming off TJ surgery. He got stronger during his rehab period and the fastball is already back to 96 mph. Further down the system is 6th round pick Eric Adler. His numbers in his last year at Wake Forest were ugly but he had a good Cape Cod stint the summer before. If he can harness his control and command, he’s got an electric fastball and closer-caliber stuff. Even more obscure is non-drafted RHP Drew McDaniel, signed out of Ole Miss. He’s a four-pitch starter, with good carry on a 94-mph fastball and lots of spin on his curveball.

Don (Illinois):

     Is Lynn Sosa good enough defensively and offensively to be a starting second baseman in the majors ?

Bill Mitchell: Don, in a previous question I said that Sosa projects as an above-average defender at second. There may be enough bat there for a regular role, but as scouts often say about fringe regulars, the team would always be looking for someone better. Let’s see how Sosa builds on his strong 2022 season before we finalize his projection.

Bill Mitchell: That’s all for today’s White Sox prospect chat. Stay optimistic, ChiSox fans — the system is getting better. Emily Waldon will be here tomorrow to talk about the Tigers list. In the meantime, be sure to get your order in for the Prospect Handbook, coming early next year. It’s an essential purchase for all of our Baseball America loyal supporters. Thanks again for the great questions. I’ll be back next week with the Royals chat session.

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