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On the recommendation of pro scouts Gary Pellant and Bill Young, the White Sox were one of several teams to put in a claim on Jenks after the Angels finally had enough of his shenanigans and placed him on waivers in December 2004. Los Angeles invested five seasons trying to develop Jenks, who was as rough off the field as his stuff was raw on the mound. The Angels suspended him for violating team rules in 2002, an ESPN The Magazine article revealed several disturbing incidents from his past in 2003, and the final straw came when he beat up a teammate while rehabbing his elbow in the fall of 2004. At that point, Jenks also had been shut down three times in two seasons because of a stress reaction in his elbow, which required surgery in August 2004. Jenks was a new man with the White Sox. Marriage and fatherhood helped him mature, as did the continuing support of Mark Potoshnik, a coach at the Northwest Baseball Academy in Lynwood, Wash., who has been his mentor. Sent to Double-A Birmingham, Jenks took off immediately. He led the Southern League in saves when the Sox promoted him to the big leagues in July. Manager Ozzie Guillen put him in low-stress situations at the start, but Jenks supplanted Dustin Hermanson as closer by September. He wound up with 10 saves, including four in the postseason--closing out the Indians, Red Sox, Angels and Astros in clinching opportunities. No pitcher takes the mound with two more powerful pitches. Jenks' fastball topped out at 102 mph with the White Sox, and he blew 99-100 mph heat by Jeff Bagwell in his six-pitch strikeout in Game One of the World Series. He complements the fastball with a power snapdragon curve clocked at 85-89 mph. His curve is unhittable when he throws it for strikes. Jenks also owns a hard slider and a decent changeup--leftovers from his years as a starter--but rarely needs to throw them. His mound presence was particularly impressive in his big league debut, as was his ability to bounce back from blown saves. Though he has matured, Jenks needs supervision and still has to be considered a high risk. His weight could become a problem if he doesn't maintain some semblance of conditioning. His fastball doesn't always have a lot of movement, allowing hitters to zero in on it if they can foul off a few pitches and time it. His control never has been a strong suit. Given Jenks' rocky road to the big leagues, he'll have to prove he's more than a one-year sensation. He appeared in 73 games last season and could feel wear and tear in 2006. If he holds together, he'll give Guillen a bullpen anchor for years to come.
After going 50-for-50 stealing bases as a senior at Bellaire High in suburban Houston, Young shattered his left forearm in an outfield collision three days before the 2001 draft. Chicago stole him in the 16th round and has watched him blossom into one of the top outfield prospects in the minors. He skipped a level last year and led the Southern League in runs, homers and extra-base hits (70) despite missing two weeks after pulling a muscle in his side during the Futures Game. Young is a dynamic offensive player who sparks comparisons to Eric Davis. He has the power and speed to be a 30-30 man in the big leagues and has proven his ability to make adjustments. Double-A pitchers victimized Young with a steady diet of low curveballs and high fastballs early in the season, but by midseason he forced pitchers to throw him strikes and made them pay when they did. He's an outstanding defensive center fielder. The only thing keeping Young from being a five-tool player is his arm. It's playable in center field but likely would prevent him from moving to right field. He strikes out a lot, but does so without compromising his production and also draws a lot of walks. The White Sox have a center-field opening after trading Aaron Rowand to the Phillies, but they'll likely give it to Brian Anderson and let Young open the season at Triple-A Charlotte. He should be ready by midseason.
Regarded as the system's top prospect heading into 2005, Anderson had a solid Triple-A season and spent the last month and a half in the majors. He reached Chicago little more than two years after signing for $1.6 million as a first-round draft pick, with minor injuries the only thing that slowed him down. Anderson is a well-rounded player. He can drive the ball to all fields and could develop into a 25-homer guy at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. He's a good outfielder with a strong arm, and he has been solid in center field since his college days at Arizona. Anderson is a good athlete with decent speed but isn't a basestealing threat. While he's not terribly impatient at the plate, he doesn't draw a lot of walks. He stayed healthy in 2005, though he had offseason surgery to remove a plate and some screws from his right wrist, remnants of a 2003 operation. Anderson is ready to take the next step, which is why the White Sox were willing to include Aaron Rowand in the Jim Thome trade. Anderson should get the first half of the season to settle in, but then could be challenged by prospects behind him like Chris Young and Jerry Owens.
Coming out of Iowa as a prepster, Sweeney wasn't the most likely candidate to jump on the fast track. But when the White Sox needed an extra outfielder in big league camp in 2004 and he responded by hitting .367, they skipped him a level. He spent 2005 in Double-A as a 20-year-old and played through a wrist injury all year, which helps explain his modest numbers. Sweeney is a smart hitter with a sweet swing. Longtime executive and scout Roland Hemond compares him to Harold Baines. Sweeney hits the ball hard to all fields and has the bat speed to handle plus fastballs. A pitching prospect in high school, he has a plus arm and his right-field play is solid. Despite his fast rise, Sweeney has room to improve as a hitter. The White Sox expect him to develop 15-20 home run power, but he has just 10 in three seasons. Though he controls the strike zone, he could stand to be more patient. Sweeney has been impressive in each of the last two major league spring camps and has moved quickly. It wouldn't hurt him to repeat Double- A and pound pitchers after two years facing constant adjustments.
A two-sport standout at Oklahoma State, Fields still holds the Cowboys' record for career passing touchdowns with 55. He comes from an athletic family, as his mother Rhonda was the first female athlete to earn a full scholarship to Oklahoma State. Signed for $1.55 million as the 18th overall pick in 2004, he spent his first full pro season in Double-A. Fields has above-average bat speed and strength, which could help him develop into a middle-of-the-order presence. He has the strong arm and leadership expected from a former Big 12 Conference quarterback. Because he divided his attention between two sports in college, Fields still has a lot of rough edges. He made strides defensively in the Arizona Fall League, but he still can appear mechanical at times. His plate discipline is below-average and didn't show much improvement in 2005, in part because he can do damage on pitches off the plate. While the White Sox have been aggressive with several of their recent top draft picks, they can afford to let Fields repeat Double-A. With Joe Crede entrenched in Chicago after a strong postseason, Fields seems a good bet to get another 500 to 1,000 minor league at-bats before being a serious consideration.
The White Sox grabbed Alex Escobar in an August 2004 waiver claim and used him to steal Owens from the Nationals in a February 2005 trade. Owens made an immediate impression on Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen in spring training and went on to win the Southern League batting title, reaching base in 37 consecutive games in one stretch. Owens had enough speed to play wide receiver at UCLA before a broken foot caused him to sour on football. He makes solid contact to drive the ball past drawn-in infielders, who must respect his quickness and bunting ability. He handles the bat well, working counts and drawing walks. He profiles in center field. Owens is inexperienced for his age, and he's still learning the nuances of basestealing and defense. He doesn't drive the ball much now but could develop gap power. His arm is fringe average. Owens spent the winter chasing another batting title in Venezuela, where he collected 18 hits in his first 36 at-bats. He'll start 2006 in Triple-A but isn't too far from challenging Brian Anderson for the center-field job.
Valido reached high Class A Winston-Salem before he turned 20, but he made more headlines when he drew a 15-game suspension last May after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. He came back to set career highs in most categories and finished the year strong in the Arizona Fall League. Valido has the speed and hitting skills to earn top-of-the-order consideration in the future. Defensively, he has the makings of a Gold Glover. He ranges well to both sides and has soft hands and a plus arm. He reduced his errors from 27 in 2004 to 12 in 2005. He has learned to read pitchers and get good jumps, leading the Carolina League in steals while getting caught just five times last year. Valido needs to prove his performance hasn't been the product of steroids. He won't be able to bat leadoff unless he recognizes the value of drawing walks. Juan Uribe is signed for two more years, after which Valido should be ready. He's in position to become the White Sox' first homegrown regular at shortstop since Bucky Dent.
Liotta was drafted by the Brewers in the 12th round out of high school, but ended up at Tulane for a year before transferring to Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC. His first two seasons as a pro have yielded a pair of ERA titles, the most recent in the low Class A South Atlantic League. He was even more impressive after a late-season promotion to high Class A. Liotta's best pitch is a 12-to-6 curveball with tight, downward rotation. He has improved the command of his curve, throwing it for strikes in all counts last season. He also has a low-90s fastball that gets on hitters quickly. He induces a lot of groundballs and has surrendered just seven homers in 229 pro innings. Liotta's delivery is a bit mechanical and long, which scouts say could lead to inconsistency, though he hasn't had any problems thus far. His changeup improved last season but has yet to become a weapon. The inclusion of Gio Gonzalez in the Jim Thome trade made Liotta the White Sox' top pitching prospect in the minors. He has earned a trip to Double-A for 2006.
A product of Grand Prairie (Texas) High, which also produced big leaguers Kerry Wood and Kevin Walker, Broadway began his college career at Dallas Baptist before transferring to Texas Christian and earning All- America honors in 2005. He allowed just two earned runs in his last 48 innings, causing his draft stock to soar down the stretch, and tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 15 wins. The 15th overall pick in June, he signed for $1.57 million. Broadway's out pitch is a plus-plus curveball that he commands to both sides of the plate. It's a hard curve with a sharp, late break and he can throw it for strikes or bury it in the dirt as a chase pitch. He's a polished pitcher who locates his average fastball very well and understands how to get outs. While Broadway has an ideal pitcher's build, he's not overpowering and his fastball sits at 88-90 mph. His changeup is basically a show-me pitch, though it's improving and he's learning to believe in it. Broadway's polish should help him move rapidly. He went straight to high Class A, where he'll probably return to begin 2006.
After Hernandez handled the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2004, the White Sox promoted him to low Class A Kannapolis last year but the jump proved to be too much. He showed immaturity by losing composure at times, though he got himself back together after a demotion to the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Hernandez is a strong defensive catcher, using his plus arm and quick release to throw out 45 percent of basestealers last season. He still has the potential to grow into a force at the plate as well. He uses a simple approach to make solid contact from both sides of the plate. He's a better hitter from the left side but shows some raw power from the right side. At times, Hernandez can seem like his own worst enemy. He put too much pressure on himself early last season and wasn't able to snap out of his slump. His receiving and game-calling have lagged behind the rest of his defense. Hernandez should be more grounded this season than he was a year ago and could have a breakout season that gets him noticed as one of the top catching prospects in the game. He should have better results in low Class A this time around.
Considered to have one of the best arms in the White Sox system, Tracey captured interest with his pure velocity in 2004. He refined his skills last year, when his fastball lost a foot or so, tying for the Southern League lead in wins. Tracey has a durable arm and lives for his time on the mound. He's willing to pitch inside and challenge hitters every way possible. His fastball is his best pitch, but it was more often in the low 90s in the 2005, as opposed to the mid-90s in the past. His hard sinker is a decent pitch. Tracey's secondary pitches and his approach both still need work as he enters his fifth pro season. He doesn't change speeds well, which leads to lots of long at-bats as hitters foul off fastballs until they get one they can handle. His control is streaky. Tracey probably will start in Triple-A in 2006, but his profile and aggressiveness seem better suited for the bullpen. The White Sox have a deep rotation and are more in need of relief help, and he could get a callup in that role this year. He eventually could become a top set-up man, if not a closer.
Added to the 40-man roster after the 2004 season, Rogowski finally escaped Class A last year. He hit just .211 in big league camp but impressed the major league staff with his potential. A shoulder injury in 2002 contributed to his slow rise, but he's a headstrong player who believes in himself and will keep pushing. He won a Michigan high school wrestling championship as a heavyweight, two more state titles in football and the state's Mr. Baseball award in 1999. While Rogowski's home run output suffered at Birmingham's pitcher-friendly Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in 2005, he finished with career highs in doubles and extra-base hits as well as batting average. He has solid strike-zone awareness, though he wasn't as disciplined last year as in the past. He's a below-average runner, but he's very athletic for a first baseman and has seen some time in left field. Still trying to make up for lost time, Rogowski landed a job in the Dominican Winter League and proved himself further as a run producer. He'll try to do the same in Triple-A this year.
A raw baseball talent, Allen bypassed a shot at Division I-A football scholarships as a linebacker to take a $175,000 bonus as a 2004 fifth-round pick. The bonus might have been a lot higher had he had a strong high school senior season, but he had too many strikeouts and too few home runs (two) to fulfill expectations that he could be a first- or second-rounder. The White Sox took him on projections that he could develop into a Ryan Howard-type offensive presence, and they were happy to see he showed immediate improvement as a full-time baseball player. Allen has plenty of brute strength and he'll become even more of a power threat if he can make more consistent contact. Offspeed stuff gave him trouble early in 2005 before he made adjustments, and he needs to figure out a way to be more effective against low pitches. Allen is a good athlete and runner for his size, and should become at least an average defender at first base. Chicago is toying with the idea of trying him in the outfield. But ultimately it's his hitting that will dictate how quickly he moves, and his ceiling is considerable. He's ready for low Class A.
Going nowhere with a high-80s fastball, Haeger became so discouraged with his lack of development that he left the organization in 2003, playing golf for Madonna University in his native Livonia, Mich., where his brother Greg is the baseball coach. But Haeger didn't give up on baseball completely. He worked on a knuckleball that had been suggested by minor league pitching coach Chris Sinacori and decided to give pitching another shot. Haeger rejoined the White Sox as a knuckleball specialist in 2004 and broke through with 14 wins last year. He can make in-game adjustments when the knuckler isn't dancing as well as he would like. He uses a cut fastball to keep hitters off balance. As with most knuckleballers, his control can get dicey, but he holds runners surprisingly well. Fifteen of 24 basestealers were caught on Haeger's watch in 2005. He's mature for his age. The White Sox thought enough of Haeger to protect him on their 40-man roster this winter. His next stop is Triple-A.
The White Sox coveted Getz for years, drafting him in the sixth round out of high school in 2002 only to watch him head to Wake Forest. He transferred to Michigan after his freshman season, and established himself as one of the best hitters for average in the 2005 draft. Chicago finally nabbed him last June, signing him for $225,000 as a fourth-rounder. He has a short, quick swing with uncanny hand-eye coordination and tremendous plate discipline. He struck out only 47 times in his three seasons in college and walked three times as much as he whiffed in his pro debut. Getz doesn't project to ever develop power with his approach, but his on-base skills and plus speed still will make him an offensive contributor. At second base, he's a plus defender with arm strength, range and soft hands. While he figures to stay at second, the Sox think he throws well enough to fill in at shortstop or third base if needed as a utility player. Getz will hit his way to the big leagues, likely starting in high Class A for his first full season.
Bajenaru has paid his dues and is pounding on the door for a chance in the Chicago bullpen after making sporadic big league appearances the last two years. The White Sox drafted him in the 36th round in 1999, and they retained his rights because he was a fifth-year senior in 2000. They failed to sign him before the draft, but came to terms with him as a nondrafted free agent. A former two-way star at Oklahoma, he achieved immediate results when he became a full-time pitcher, but blew out his elbow and missed the entire 2002 season after Tommy John surgery. Bajenaru relies on a low-90s fastball with sinking action and a quality splitter. He ranked second among Triple-A International League relievers with a .185 opponent average and third with a .548 opponent OPS last year. After nibbling too much during his brief callup in 2004, he made it a point to throw strikes during last September's cameo--and paid for it by serving up two homers. He has value to the White Sox but could be most useful as trade bait.
Cunningham went undrafted out of high school and didn't start to gain scouts' attention until the fall of 2004 at Everett (Wash.) Community College. He still was a relative unknown heading into the spring, when he proceeded to destroy the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. He almost won the conference triple crown, finishing with a .465 average and 10 home runs in the wood-bat league. Scouts flocked to see Everett pitchers Zach Simons (Colorado, second round) and J.T. Zink (Boston, eighth round) and Cunningham took advantage of his opportunity to shine. He swatted two long home runs with the Major League Scouting Bureau's film crew in attendance and his stock soared. Cunningham continued to hit after signing quickly for $140,000 as a sixth-round pick. He was an Appalachian League all-star and earned a late promotion to low Class A, where he finally ran out of gas. He has a knack for hitting the ball hard in all directions with strong, quick hands that generate outstanding bat speed. Undersized coming out of high school, he has added muscle without losing his plus speed. His raw arm strength is above-average, though he needs to work on shortening his release and improving his accuracy. He played second base in high school, where his arm and speed were wasted, and his instincts in the outfield need work. He should go back to low Class A for his first full season as a pro.
The first of four lefthanders the White Sox took in the 2004 draft--ahead of Gio Gonzalez (since traded), Wes Whisler and Ray Liotta--Lumsden signed for $975,000 as a supplemental first-round pick. Scouts see some Andy Pettitte in him, but they didn't see Lumsden at all in 2005. He had pitched with pain in his elbow for a year, and missed the entire 2005 season after arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in January. He generally worked with a 90-92 mph fastball at Clemson, but it jumped into the mid-90s when Chicago sent him straight to high Class A for his debut. Before he got hurt, he had a power curveball that was almost unhittable when he located it in the strike zone. He also had a tough cut fastball and a promising changeup. A good athlete who played basketball in high school and can throw 80 mph righthanded, Lumsden will be handled carefully when he returns. He'll be 100 percent for spring training.
The White Sox have respected Stewart's gamecalling and receiving skills for years. In 2005, they trusted him to play a role in the development of a varied cast of prospects from the powerful Bobby Jenks to knuckleballer Charles Haeger. With his strong arm, Stewart led Southern League catchers by throwing out 52 percent of basestealers. While repeating Double-A, he also had a breakout season at the plate, hitting 11 homers after totaling four in his first three seasons. His .286 average was a career high and 55 points higher than his previous average. He's a below-average runner but not bad for a catcher. His performance earned him a spot on the 40-man roster and a starting job in the Dominican League. While Stewart will have to prove he can hit again this year in Triple-A, Chicago's backup catching job could be awaiting him in 2007.
Lopez caught manager Ozzie Guillen's eye in spring training last year, which earned him a brief promotion to the big leagues in May, but otherwise was unproductive in 2005. Trying to jump to Triple-A after just seven games above Class A proved to be too much. A .291 career hitter entering the season, Lopez batted .202 in 55 games with Charlotte and never quite got himself back together when he was demoted to Double-A. Bat control is Lopez' strength, but he was overmatched and started chasing too many pitches. He has a contact approach with no power to speak of. Even while struggling at the plate, Lopez did contribute with his slick fielding. He's a skilled defender with good range and an adequate arm. He was passed by Robert Valido in the organization's pecking order at shortstop and needs a strong 2006 season to re-establish himself. Another trip to Double-A is in the cards.
Power is Collaro's drawing card. He hits monster home runs and is developing into a better hitter, though he still has holes in both his swing and his approach. After three years in Rookie ball, he probably belonged in low Class A last season. The White Sox' aggressive philosophy challenged him with a jump to high Class A, and outside of leading the Carolina League in strikeouts, he held his own. He tied Winston-Salem teammate Leo Daigle for the home run crown and finished second behind Daigle in the RBI race. Collaro's long-term success depends on his bat, specifically his ability to make enough consistent contact. He doesn't run well or cover much ground in left field, though he has an average arm. His best position might be first base, though Chicago is set there for the next few years with Paul Konerko. Collaro figures to move up to Double-A in 2006.
Like Micah Schnurstein, another White Sox third-base prospect from Las Vegas, Carter shot onto the radar in his pro debut. Considered a project when he signed as a 15th-round pick last June, he had little problem against older pitchers in the Appalachian League. He generates impressive power with his strong 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and finished fourth in the Appy home run chase. He'll need to tighten his strike zone at higher levels, however. Carter also has to find a position. He's a decent athlete and moves well for his size, but he struggled at third base, committing 13 errors in 38 games. He also saw time at first base, which might be a better fit but also would reduce his value. If he has a good spring, he could start the season in low Class A.
San Diego State baseball coach Tony Gwynn thought he had found a sleeper recruit in Cortes. But after signing his letter of intent, Cortes grew three inches to 6-foot-5 and saw his fastball velocity jump by 5 mph. That got him drafted in the seventh round last June, and he signed for $115,000. Internally, the White Sox compare him to Jon Garland. Like Garland, Cortes has a long, lanky pitcher's body and has polished a curveball to go with his fastball, which parks at 88-91 mph and peaks at 94. Chicago believes his velocity will increase as he continues to develop physically, which could make him a real steal. A good student, he's extremely coachable, which will help him in his attempt to pick up a changeup. He has the maturity to handle a jump to low Class A at age 19.
An unheralded 15th-round pick in the 2004 draft, Torres used a strong senior season at Kansas State to catch the White Sox' attention. He pitched at four colleges in four years, moving from Allan Hancock (Calif.) Junior College to Grossmont (Calif.) Junior College to San Jose State before joining the Wildcats. He has benefited from the stability provided in the Sox system, where the pitching coaches work well together. Torres began 2005 in extended spring training and ended the season with nine strong starts in low Class A, including a win in the South Atlantic League playoffs. He finished up with a strong showing in instructional league, where he went back to a full windup after working exclusively out of the stretch during the season. Torres has a live arm that delivers 92-93 mph fastballs. He also has a solid slider and an improving changeup. Very disciplined and possessing a strong work ethic, he'll move up to high Class A in 2006.
The White Sox have an affinity for football players. They drafted Joe Borchard (Stanford quarterback) and Josh Fields (Oklahoma State quarterback) in the first round, and lost another first-rounder, Brian West, when he quit baseball to become a defensive end at Louisiana State. They even took a flier on future NFL wide receiver Freddie Mitchell. Chicago found another quarterback when it took Richard with an eighth-round pick last June and signed him for $78,000. He was a coveted high school baseball prospect, but went undrafted because he had a football commitment to Michigan. Richard redshirted in his first year with the Wolverines football program and threw just 15 passes in his second, so he decided to resurrect his baseball career last spring. He was Michigan's co-closer and his durability could give him upside as a reliever, but the Sox want to see how he develops as a starter. His fastball sat in the high 80s when he started as a pro, and parked in the low 90s and touched 94 when he relieved in college. It has natural sinking action that produces groundballs. His curveball and changeup need improvement, but Chicago saw encouraging progress in instructional league. Though Richard has a strong body and is very athletic, scouts always have fretted over his stiff arm action, which may hinder the development of his secondary pitches. He'll begin his first full pro season in low Class A, where he ended 2005.
A 26th-round pick by the Marlins out of high school in 2001, Russell may have wished he turned pro when he had little success at Ohio. In three seasons with the Bobcats, he pitched in just 38 games and posted a 6.28 ERA, but a late surge in his junior season nevertheless got him drafted in the sixth round. His huge frame and easy arm action attracted scouts, and Russell has made a smooth transition into pro ball. He earned a spot in the Kannapolis rotation out of spring training and held it all season, helping the Intimidators win the South Atlantic League title. Russell has a lively sinker that sits at 88-90 mph and touches 92. He doesn't have much in the way of complementary pitches, so the White Sox tried him in late-inning relief during instructional league and were encouraged by the results. He likely would gain more velocity if used in shorter bursts, and a bullpen role suits his aggressive nature. He'll probably pitch in the rotation this year in high Class A, though, so he can get some much-needed innings.
Nanita entered pro ball with a Pioneer League-record 30-game hitting streak in 2003, but he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist at the end of the year and took a while to recapture his stroke. After struggling in high Class A in 2004, he thrived there last season, hitting for average and controlling the strike zone. He has gap power and encouraged the White Sox with the progress he made in driving the ball. He can bunt, too. The other parts of the game don't come as easily to Nanita as hitting does. He has good speed but hasn't learned to read pitchers and isn't much of a basestealing threat. He's an adequate outfielder with an average arm. Ticketed for Double-A, Nanita profiles as a fourth outfielder. He fits best defensively in left field but doesn't have the power associated with the position.
No longer the choirboy sensation with the mother of all curveballs, the little Dominican lefthander has reached the point of now or never with the White Sox. Had he remained on the career path he was on before 2004, he could have been Chicago's No. 5 starter last year, or possibly filled the lefty-reliever role Neal Cotts handled so well. But Munoz never has seemed to recover from the shock of being pummeled by the Expos in his big league debut in June 2004. He earned the promotion after dominating in Double-A but hasn't shown the same ability since. His curve, once a lights-out weapon, has become inconsistent. His control and command haven't been as good either. Munoz also throws an average 90-mph fastball, plus a slider and a changeup. Unless he has a huge spring, he's a candidate to be traded or placed on waivers.
Molina's story is similar to Chris Stewart's. For years, he built his reputation with his work behind the plate. That continued in 2005, when managers rated him the top defensive catcher in the Carolina League. He led the CL by throwing out 53 percent of basestealers, showcasing a plus arm and quality receiving skills. Also like Stewart, Molina came alive with the bat last season. A career .235 hitter with 17 homers in five seasons before 2005, he continued to make progress learning the strike zone and started to show some pop. He'll probably never hit for a high average, but at least he can do some damage when pitchers make a mistake. He offers little speed on the bases. Molina will try to make more gains with his bat while providing his usual quality defense in Double-A this year.
Honel was the 16th overall pick in 2001, making him the highest-drafted Illinois high school pitcher since Bob Kipper went eighth in 1982. Honel ranked No. 2 on this list after tearing through high Class A as a 20-year-old in 2003, but little has gone right since. He pitched just six innings in 2004 while battling inflammation in his elbow, which started bothering him sporadically shortly after he turned pro. Honel was able to pitch 93 innings last season, but had arthrocopic elbow surgery afterward. The White Sox hope he'll be able to pitch again early in 2006 and at this point they don't know what to expect from him. At his best, Honel had a low-90s fastball and a nasty knuckle-curve. But in the last two years, he has lost velocity and command while his knuckle-curve ceased being an out pitch. He never has had much of a changeup. If Honel can ever regain his health and stuff, he could benefit from what he's learned about pitching and himself while battling adversity.
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