Chicago White Sox 2021 Top MLB Prospects Chat
Josh Norris: It is White Sox chat time, so let us chat about the White Sox.
- What's your projection for Jonathan Stiever? Any chance he works his way into the rotation in '21?
Josh Norris: Probably about 50-50 starter-reliever at this point. Going to need one of either of his slider or changeup to come a little bit further in its development to give him a solid third offering to go with the FB/CB combo to make it there. Although he was in the big leagues this year, he still has plenty of developing to do. Remember: 2019 was only his first full year as a pro.
- What's your (or the Sox's) take on Bryan Ramos? When do you anticipate that he will make his full season debut, assuming a somewhat normal season? Thanks.
Josh Norris: First, I do not expect a normal season. Suspending disbelief, though, I could see the White Sox getting Ramos to low Class A in the middle of the year. He's one of their higher upside prospects and got pretty good (but not great) reviews at instructs. He'll be in the 11-15 range of the system.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- I certainly appreciate your work on these lists but how on earth is Kopech ranked so high after what he’s gone through over the past two seasons?
Josh Norris: He looked really good in his big league debut, looked excellent again and then sat out because of COVID. I certainly didn't expect to rank him (or Madrigal) this year, but 2020 is weird. That said, I saw no significant reason to change his ceiling at all.
Bill B (Glen Allen, VA):
- Jake Burger... "over cooked"... or best chance to be "flipped" to another team for a fresh start?
Josh Norris: I would not expect them to flip him, simply because they just added him to the 40-man, which tells me they still believe in his abilities despite two unfortunate injuries. Unsurprisingly, 2021 will be a big year for him.
- Was Crochet considered for "Best Fastball" or was it an easy decision to pick Kopech for that title?
Josh Norris: This seems to be a bit of technical glitch. Crochet did in fact win Best Fastball.
Warren (New London):
- Bryce Bush looked like a steal in 2018, but struggled in 2019. Are there any updates on him? Is he still in the 30? I was surprised not to see him in mlb's top 30.
Josh Norris: Like so many young minor leaguers, 2020 was going to be a big test for Bush. He has plenty of tools, but a long way to go to turn them into skills. (Yes, he'll be in the 30). At instructs, the White Sox worked with him on improving his plate discipline and getting him to step toward the pitcher instead of into the bucket.
- How much of a separation was there between the low minor arms of Kelley, Thompson, and Dalquist? The write ups on all three were encouraging, as all seemed to make strides after being drafted/from 2019. Does Kelley's upside put him in a tier above Thompson and Dalquist?
Josh Norris: Not a whole lot of separation, honestly. Those guys could all be very, very good. Once the time comes, I will be very excited to see them at either low Class A or high Class A (depending on where they are when I get that sweet, sweet vaccine in my arm)
- Was there a reason the White Sox MLB debuted 12 players in 2020 for only an at bat or two or very few IP? Why start the clock on these guys?
Josh Norris: A lot of teams debuted a ton of guys this year out of need (by my count, 201 players made their debuts in a 60-game regular year). Just the mechanics of a weird, weird year.
- Awesome list!! Do you expect Crochet to be on the opening day roster? If yes, as a starter or reliever? Will the White Sox not have a competitive balance pick this year because comp a and b alternate each year and they didn’t have one in 2020? Thanks! Do u now when the comp picks will be announced??
Josh Norris: Depends, I guess. If they want to keep him in the bullpen, he probably can go right back to the Opening Day roster (assuming health). If they'd like to develop him as a starter, he probably could use some time in AAA.
Zack Collins (Capable backup?):
- With the Sox pretty much re-signed to letting James McCann sign elsewhere, do you think Zack Collins is a capable backup to Grandel catching 20-30 games a year? He has always had a discerning eye but just doesn't seem to hit enough to be able to stick in the majors.
Josh Norris: I don't really, no. He's never gotten high marks for his catching, either, and the issues with his bat are correct: Great eye, pretty good power, but will strike out a ton.
- It really seems like Luis Gonzalez' realistic upside is still that of a fourth outfielder. Is that really the 10th best player in the system?
Josh Norris: I think so. Could have gone with Rutherford there, but I took Gonzalez because he seems more likely to handle center field. This system is very good at the top but falls off pretty quickly thereafter.
Bill (New Orleans):
- I can't make myself be satisfied with Vaughn as DH. Is he really MLB ready right now?
Josh Norris: Vaughn is not MLB ready right now. He still needs time against upper-level pitching in a more competitive setting than the alternate site or the instructional league.
- Which Top10 and separately, non-Top-10, got the most surprising upside reports out of instructs or the alternate site? Who might be a prospect to watch in 2021?
Josh Norris: I don't think I was surprised at all by anyone in the Top 10 (it's pretty much the same group as last year, minus Robert and with Kelley/Crochet), but I was really heartened by what Dane Dunning looked like in the big leagues. Prospects to watch in 2021 outside of the 10 (in no particular order) Bryan Ramos Caleb Freeman Avery Weems Gavin Sheets Chase Krogman
- Garrett Crochet -- YOUR take on a starter or reliever? Does the high velocity and "forearm tightness" make you believe he's a TJ candidate and destined for the bullpen?
Josh Norris: I would leave him as a starter as long as possible. The upside is wayyyyy too high to pass up so quickly. That said, he'll be a capital-W weapon as long as he's healthy.
Micker Adolfo (Still a prospect?):
- Thanks for chatting with us today Josh. How did I look at the alternate site this year? Am I still seen by the org as a prospect that potentially can still make it to the majors? I had looked to be really starting to break out in 2018 before more injuries.
Josh Norris: Adolfo still needs to make improvements with his plate discipline and swing path to unlock his massive, massive raw power (the carousel at Winston-Salem still cowers at the name "Adolfo").
- Can you go over the catching depth in the White Sox system?
Josh Norris: In the big leagues, there's obvious Grandal. There's no perfect backup candidate—Mercedes and Collins offer power with little defensive value, and Zavala is the inverse. Beyond that, you have Jeferson Mendoza and Victor Torres, who are both ages away from showing their true potential. Basically, there's a starter, three third-catcher type players, and two longshots well down the ladder.
- Which non-Top-10 prospect are you looking forward to seeing in 2021? Also, you gets your vote for the "most intriguing" (as defined by you) prospect?
Josh Norris: All of them? Whenever this is behind us, I am going to be happy to see any prospect you put in front of me. A bullpen gets thrown in the park? I want in. Bryan Ramos might be the guy I'm most intrigued by, and probably is the non T10 guy I'd most want to see at some point next year.
- The White Sox probably need help in the OF corners. Can you go over the corner OF depth in the system? When does help arrive?
Josh Norris: Gonzalez and Rutherford are the two nearest answers, though neither is a slam dunk. Gavin Sheets has begun tinkering with left field (he showed up to instructs in great shape) and has enough power to profile there. Bryce Bush and Benyamin Bailey are the farther-away options.
- Other than Michael Kopech, which pitching prospects are likely to break into a starting MLB role and their approximate arrival times in the regular rotation?
Josh Norris: Obviously there are guys like Dunning and possibly Crochet to fill that bill. Stiever might be the next closest, though he's got to prove he can stick as a starter first, and then the big three of Kelley/Dalquist/Thompson are next in line, development wise, and could make in there in two years* or so. *Depending on how COVID messes with development in 2021
- I don't really understand the love for Nick Madrigal. He doesn't walk, can pretty much only hits singles, and probably isn't a .300 hitter. Isn't he a .260/.290/.350 type hitter? Granted he's a good fielder, albeit at 2b where the league has moved onto big power/mediocre fielding type players?
Josh Norris: I have had similar concerns with Madrigal, except I will say that it would not surprise me if he were a .300 hitter. But, no, there's very little impact from his bat, but even in today's game it's nice to have somebody with true table-setter's skills.
Joselyn C. (In the Loop):
- Blake Rutherford. Please, tell me his hit tool and power were starting to show signs of maturing in Schaumburg over the summer. Appreciate ya!
Josh Norris: Sounded like it made some progress. They worked with him at Schaumburg on finding ways to pull the ball with more consistency and authority. I thought he was going to get a natural power boost in 2020 by being at Triple-A with the juiced ball (remember when that was the biggest issue with minor leagues?!) and Charlotte's cozy park.
Josh Norris: Thanks all. Back to the Handbook bunker. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Stay safe.