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TRACK RECORD: Baseball America ranked Jimenez as the No. 1 prospect in the 2013 international class, and the Cubs signed both him and No. 2 prospect Gleyber Torres. The Cubs dealt Jimenez to the White Sox along with righthander Dylan Cease as part of the four-play- er package for Jose Quintana in July 2017. Jimenez missed two weeks early in 2018 with a strained left pectoral muscle, and then two more weeks at midseason with a strained left adductor muscle. He spent the summer tearing apart the upper levels and finished the season ranked inside the top 10 in the minors in both batting average (.337) and slugging (.577). He also ranked as the No.1 prospect in both the Southern and International leagues. Jimenez was not called up by the White Sox in September, even though he was already on the 40-man roster. The White Sox explained that he still has work to do on his defense in left field, but more notably it kept Jimenez from starting his service time clock.
SCOUTING REPORT: For as long as he’s been a prospect, Jimenez has projected as an elite hitter who can hit for average and power. Five seasons into his minor league career, he’s done nothing to dissuade evaluators in that regard. He has at least double-plus power to all sectors now, and he hit a system-best 22 home runs in 2018. He has shown he can hit the ball out to all fields. His coiled lower half and rubber band-like takeaway in his swing remind some evaluators of Miguel Cabrera. He also shows an impressive knack for learning how pitchers plan to attack him, and then adjusting to the strategy within the same game. These qualities should allow Jimenez to be a plus hitter with plus-plus power. Defensively, he’s unlikely to ever be a standout. His range and throwing arm are both below-average. Because of this, he will be limited to left field. He’s not necessarily going to be a liability in the outfield, but he’s unlikely to be an asset out there either. Jimenez is a below-average runner as well. His value as a big leaguer is going to be largely limited to his bat, but it’s a special bat.
THE FUTURE: Barring injury, Jimenez should be a major leaguer very early in 2018. He has very little left to prove in the minor leagues, and the White Sox are in a position to let him develop defensively in the big leagues with a rebuilding White Sox club.
TRACK RECORD: Acquired in the Chris Sale trade, Kopech made big strides to earn his first big league callup. His only bad big league outing was his last one, and with good reason: he had a torn elbow ligament that required Tommy John surgery.
SCOUTING REPORT: Kopech’s signature pitch is still his blazing fastball that touches as high as 102 mph. As the season went along, he throttled down to a still-blazing 95-98 and showed improved command. He started to do a better job of repeating his delivery and find a consistent arm path. His slider has always been his best secondary pitch, flashing plus grades. Improved fastball command made Kopech’s slider more effective because hitters were less able to lay off of it. He added a fringy curveball in 2018. While it is a barely usable pitch, throw- ing it helped improve his still-inconsistent changeup into a pitch that flashes average. In the past, his change- up was often much too firm.
THE FUTURE: Kopech had Tommy John surgery in September. If everything goes according to plan, he should be back in the rotation some time in the middle of 2020. He has front-of-the-rotation potential.
TRACK RECORD: After recovering from Tommy John surgery, Cease came over to the White Sox along slugger Eloy Jimenez as part of the Jose Quintana trade. At high Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham in 2018, Cease notched 160 strikeouts, 10 behind Kopech for the system lead.
SCOUTING REPORT: Cease’s top-of-the-scale fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched triple digits. He comes by that velocity almost effortlessly, from a high-slot delivery that features whip-quick arm speed. The fastball doesn’t show a whole lot of side-to-side life, though there is some sink and tail when he works it toward the bottom of the zone. More often, the pitch features riding life up in the zone. He complements the pitch with a plus 12-to-6 curveball in the mid-70s. He doesn’t always land the pitch for a strike, but it induces chases when buried. His third pitch is an average low-to-mid-80s changeup that features moderate sink. He also throws a developing slider. Cease’s fringe-average control has shown improvement, but he still needs to refine it.
THE FUTURE: Cease likely will return to Double-A to refine his offspeed pitches. He has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter or a dominant closer.
TRACK RECORD: Madrigal’s Beavers won the College World Series, Oregon State’s first title since going back to back in 2006 and 2007. He missed much of the college season with a broken left wrist, but he was back on the field for the CWS and the draft, where Chicago selected him fourth overall.
SCOUTING REPORT: Madrigal’s carrying tool is his bat, particularly his uncanny ability to put the barrel on the ball while avoiding chasing out of the strike zone. He also owes his contact ability to excellent hand-eye coordination that helps in the field as well. At 5-foot-8, Madrigal is not an imposing player, and he faces con- cerns about his below-average power. The White Sox plan to work with him to add a little more loft to his swing. Madrigal will be tried at shortstop. He could be serviceable there and projects as an outstanding second baseman. Evaluators were impressed with his hands. Mardigal’s accurate, average arm ticked up to above-av- erage and even plus at times as he became more com- fortable letting throws rip. He’s a plus runner whose speed should add to the value of his on-base skills.
THE FUTURE: Madrigal has a shot to jump to Double-A in 2019. He could eventually compete for batting titles.
TRACK RECORD: After signing for $26 million, a franchise record for an international signee, Robert provid- ed glimpses of his massive potential during spring training in 2018, but a torn ligament in his left thumb cost him the first two months of the season. He re-injured the same thumb four games into his time with high Class A Winston- Salem. Injuries limited Robert to 186 at-bats in the regular season before a stint in the Arizona Fall League.
SCOUTING REPORT: Robert came into the season with a tantalizing but raw skill set that needed time to mature into full-on skills. He’s got one of the best bodies in the system, and one of the highest upsides. His bat speed and plus-plus raw power are among the best in the system. He’s got well above-average bat speed, and he improved his swing path. He needs to improve his strike-zone discipline. He’s got the double-plus speed necessary to stay in center field, but he needs to refine his routes and jumps. If he did have to move to a corner, his plus arm would make him a natural fit for right field.
THE FUTURE: Robert’s tools are among the best in the system. He’ll work to refine them in 2019, likely back at Winston-Salem. Robert has all-star potential if he reach- es his ceiling.
TRACK RECORD: Adolfo signed with the White Sox on the strength of his plus-plus raw power. He took time to develop at the plate, but showed significant improvement in 2017 and was impressive in an injury-plagued 2018. A strained elbow limited Adolfo to DH at high Class A Winston- Salem, and he had Tommy John surgery in July.
SCOUTING REPORT: Adolfo’s calling card is his plus-plus power to all-fields. He has shown steady improvement as a hitter, which has helped his power play in games. Adolfo’s swing is geared toward power. He sets up with a wide base and then coils his body with a significant timing step. He projects as a low-average slugger, but he’s showing better pitch recognition. His strikeout rate fell below 30 percent and his walk rate reached double digits for the first time in his career in 2018. When healthy, Adolfo’s throwing arm is among the best in the minors. Even if surgery saps some of that arm strength, it should still be plus. He’s an above-average runner now, though he likely will slow down. He should be an aver- age defender in right field.
THE FUTURE: Once Adolfo recovers from surgery, he should head back to the Carolina League to continue working on plate discipline while kicking off the rust.
TRACK RECORD: Dunning, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez joined the White Sox in the December 2016 Adam Eaton trade. Lopez and Giolito spent the season in the big league rotation, while Dunning impressed in the minors, reaching Double-A Birmingham. A strained right elbow cost him two months, but he returned for instructional league.
SCOUTING REPORT: Dunning’s go-to pitches are his plus low-90s sinker and plus slider. The righthander has worked hard to consistently get full extension in his delivery, which imparts maximum action on his sinker. His slider is thrown in the low-to-mid-80s and shows 10-to-4 break. His above-average curveball, which he reintroduced after shelving it early in his career, is coming along quickly. Dunning tinkered with the grip on the pitch until he settled on a spike grip, which gives the pitch a sharper break. He also moved to the center of the rubber in 2018, which gives him a little more margin for error when it comes to working to his glove side. His changeup, which is thrown in the same velocity band as his slider, projects as above-average.
THE FUTURE: Dunning is likely headed back to Birmingham. He projects as a No. 4 starter.
TRACK RECORD: Rutherford was part of a four-player package the White Sox received for third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in July 2017. Rutherford led the system with 78 RBIs in 2018.
SCOUTING REPORT: Rutherford’s blend of 50 and 55 tools on the 20-to-80 scouting scale give him a chance to be at least an average regular. On a high Class A Winston-Salem team filled with bat-first prospects, Rutherford’s smooth swing stood out to scouts. His above-average raw power hasn’t turned into many home runs, and those he has hit are all pulled. Some scouts attribute this to a lack of “snap” in Rutherford’s wrists, though the White Sox believe his power will grow. He shows the ability to impact the ball both early and late in the hitting zone, giving him an ability to hit the ball to all fields. He is adept at all three outfield spots, though he plays mostly right field. He’s a tick below-average runner, though he makes up for it with plus instincts. He has an average, accurate arm.
THE FUTURE: Rutherford will likely move to Double-A Birmingham in 2019. Though scouts debate his impact potential, they see a future big league regular.
TRACK RECORD: Gonzalez was a pitcher and hitter at New Mexico. The White Sox believed there was even more potential to be unlocked once he concentrated exclusively on hitting. He put together an excellent all-around 2018 season at two Class A levels.
SCOUTING REPORT: Gonzalez is a well-rounded prospect who has shown he’s capable of putting up solid, professional at-bats with a modicum of power. His home run power is almost exclusively to his pull side. He does line doubles to all fields, so there is hope some of those doubles will turn into home runs. He showed little trouble handling lefthanders in 2018. He took it upon himself to make adjustments within the season, including using his lower half more in his swing and improving his bat path to keep it in the hitting zone more often. Gonzalez moved around the outfield for high Class A Winston-Salem, but the majority of his time came in center field. He’s a capable defender at that position, but his above-average range and plus arm make him a more of a likely right fielder. Whether he’ll have the power to profile there is a question for 2019.
THE FUTURE: After a strong turn at the Class A levels, Gonzalez is likely headed for Double-A Birmingham.
TRACK RECORD: Throughout his amateur career, Walker established himself as a talented, professional hitter. He set collegiate highs in all three triple-slash categories in his junior year at Oklahoma (.352/.441/.606) before a late-season oblique injury forced him to sit out the Sooners’ postseason. That oblique injury lingered, which helped explain a lackluster pro debut.
SCOUTING REPORT: Walker’s value is tied to his bat, which the White Sox believe is capable of producing both average and power. He has strong wrists and a smooth, rhythmic swing from the left side that features a lofted swing path that could help him hit for plus power. He showed clear pull-side tendencies in his brief pro debut. The White Sox were pleased with how he handled center field as a pro, and his average foot speed and arm strength should give him a chance to stick there for the foreseeable future thanks to solid routes and reads. If he does have to move to a corner outfield spot, his arm strength and power potential would give him a fair shot to profile in right field.
THE FUTURE: After a tune-up in Rookie ball and low Class A Kannapolis in 2018, Walker should begin his first full pro season at high Class A Winston-Salem.
- Josh Norris
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