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Prospect Roundup: Chicago White Sox



DURHAM, N.C.—
The Charlotte Knights ranked No. 1 on our list of most talented teams in the minors, largely on the strength of three high-profile prospects acquired in trades this offseason. Second baseman Yoan Moncada came over from the Red Sox in a four-player package for lefthander Chris Sale, and righties Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez were part of the freight the Nationals paid for outfielder Adam Eaton. Charlotte spent four games in Durham over the past week matching up with the Bulls, who ranked just behind the Knights on the talented teams list. Giolito and Lopez each pitched in the series—as did 2015 first-rounder Carson Fulmer—with mixed results. Giolito had issues commanding his stuff, was hit hard when he was in the zone and left after just four innings. Lopez's stuff was better than Giolito's, but he, too, had issues with command. His fastball and slider were good enough that he blew away hitters for stretches at a time, but he occasionally left pitches over the middle and paid dearly. Baseball America spoke to scouts who watched the series and got their opinions on Giolito and Lopez, as well as other players who have played around North Carolina in the season's early stages. LUCAS GIOLITO Giolito has been well-known for a long time. He was the No. 16 overall pick in 2012 despite already having Tommy John surgery, ranked No. 1 or 2 on five consecutive Top 30 prospect lists and has been on BA's Top 100 prospect list five times, peaking at No. 5 after the 2015 season. Even with all those accolades, Giolito wasn't without his blemishes. Scouts who saw him at the upper levels of the minors noted a lack of deception that gave hitters long looks at his pitches, and he struggled at time to keep his 6-foot-6 frame in sync during his delivery. Nonetheless, Giolito debuted last June in the majors, where hitters found no trouble with one of the minors' most heralded prospects. Opponents hit .349 with a .730 slugging percentage against Giolito’s fastball during his time with the Nationals, and he was sent down in mid-July before being recalled a month later. In his first two starts as a White Sox prospect, Giolito has shown many of the same problems and scouts' reactions have not been kind. A pair of evaluators who saw him noted that his frame makes it tough for him to repeat his complex delivery. At times during his first two outings scouts have noticed his arm dragging, his body flying open early and an overall lack of athleticism that kept him from repeating his delivery and commanding the ball. Giolito has added a flutter with his glove early in his delivery, which does help to add some deception. But he struggled with his control and command. Giolito's fastball sat between 92-94 mph early before dropping to the low 90s later in his outing, and threw a curveball, changeup and a new slider as well. He threw some particularly impressive curveballs, and his changeup showed enough late fade to make it an effective weapon against both righthanders and lefthanders. Both scouts occasionally saw the plus stuff that made Giolito famous, but not nearly enough to project future stardom. In fact, one scout liked Giolito as a back-end starter, while another preferred him as a reliever, where he could regain his previous upper-90s velocity and attack hitters with a combination of fastball and curveball. REYNALDO LOPEZ Lopez signed with the Nationals as an 18-year-old in 2012 for just $17,000, but once his velocity spiked in 2014 he made a quick move through the minor leagues en route to a big league debut in 2016. His electric combination of fastball and slider landed him among the Nationals' top five prospects twice and among the Top 100 prospects three times. He was dealt, along with Giolito and righthander Dane Dunning, to the White Sox this past offseason in exchange for Eaton. Like Giolito, Lopez was assigned to Triple-A to begin the season. With the Knights, Lopez has shown the same devastating fastball—he's touched 100 mph in the past and peaked at 99 in his start at Durham—and slider as in past years. That combination would make him an effective late-inning option almost immediately, but the White Sox would like to see him develop into a long-term starter. To do that, he'll need to harness his changeup and work to refine his curveball. In his start against Durham, scouts noticed that he nearly abandoned the changeup early on, choosing instead to use his breaking pitches to put hitters away. His curveball, thrown in the 79-82 mph range, shows almost identical shape as his slider, but with less violent break. One scout believed that Lopez's command is just enough to start right now, and both believed he needed to improve the consistency of his breaking ball to remain in that role. He's going to get plenty of chances to start—especially with Zack Burdi, who consistently hits triple-digits with his fastball, available to fortify Chicago's bullpen—but he could be a factor in late-game situations if he can't remain in the rotation. ZACK COLLINS The White Sox selected Collins, a Miami product, No. 10 overall in 2016, and sent him to high Class A Winston-Salem after a quick tuneup in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He spent time in the Arizona Fall League last season only to return to the Dash to begin this year. Multiple scouts this week agreed that Collins has plenty of work to do behind the plate as it pertained to his throwing, blocking and receiving. That was to be expected. There were questions about his ability to stick behind the plate out of college, but with access to professional coaching he'll get plenty of opportunities to add polish. What was surprising, however, were the questions surrounding his offense. The evaluators agreed that Collins showed plenty of strength and power, but that sizable hand hitch during his load was going to impact his hit tool going forth. The hitch, which you can see in the video, has led to a spray chart that trends toward the opposite field. He often slices the ball to the opposite power alley without getting the bat head fully squared, although he's strong enough to drive the ball even with less than ideal contact. As he begins to face better velocity and better caliber pitchers at the upper levels, he might need to make adjustments. [caption id="attachment_199956" align="aligncenter" width="650"]
Riley Greene Markcunninghamgetty

Prospect Summer Camp Roundup: July 15

Wednesday's roundup includes two outstanding catches and Spencer Torkelson's first hit of summer camp.

Zack Collins spray chart (Courtesy MLBFarm.com)[/caption] Both scouts saw him as a major leaguer, but not a star. Rather, Collins has a future as an offensive-minded, second-division type of catcher. Though, with the offensive bar low for catching, he might become more valuable with refinement on both ends of his game.

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