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BA Grade: 70. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 70. Run: 70. Fielding: 60. Arm: 70. Track Record: The White Sox signed Robert out of Cuba for $26 million, which busted well past their previous franchise high for an amateur player. After spending his first pro season in the Dominican Summer League, Robert spent an inconsistent 2018 in the U.S. He opened eyes in spring training but a torn thumb ligament days before the season meant his debut didn’t come until mid-June in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He re-injured the thumb with high Class A Winston-Salem later in the year, then dealt with nagging injuries in the Arizona Fall League as well. In all, Robert’s first full season as a pro was limited to just 68 games. After an offseason to get healthy, Robert spent all of 2019 showing the gifts that led the White Sox to make such a massive outlay for his services. He was one of just two players in the minors with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases and displayed strong signs of being a true five-tool player once he reaches his peak. Scouting Report: Robert is the most tooled-up player the White Sox have had in their system in years and boasts a body befitting of an NFL tight end. His rust and injuries in his first two years obscured his talent, which showed up box scores all season long. Robert’s pure hitting ability might be his weakest tool—which is saying something after he posted a .328 average across three levels—because of the swing-and-miss in his game. He will chase pitches out of the zone, and scouts have noticed that he has the tendency to commit a bit early on breaking balls designed to get hitters to chase. Internally, the White Sox that trait appears in part because pitchers have learned to stay away from the juicy parts of the strike zone, which leads Robert to get impatient and try to do damage on pitcher’s pitches. If pitchers do bring the ball in the zone, Robert can use his strong hands, muscular frame and elite bat speed to pummel pitches out to all parts of the park. That power was best displayed in 2019 on a home run in Birmingham that cleared the batter’s eye in center field. On defense, Robert uses near-elite speed to chase balls down to all four quadrants of center field. His arm is double-plus as well—he had seven outfield assists in 2019—which gives a weapon not present in the skill sets of most center fielders. While the Astros’ Kyle Tucker joined Robert in the 30-30 club, the White Sox’s top prospect is the first player since 2009 to finish a season with 30 home runs and 10 or more triples. The Future: Robert is likely to follow the typical path of the young, big league-ready super-prospect. On a team that in 2019 featured a pitcher who finished in the top three in the Cy Young voting and another who won the batting title, Robert has the tools and skills to become a true face of the franchise.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 60. Run: 30. Fielding: 40. Arm: 50. Track Record: Vaughn started to open evaluators’ eyes after his sophomore season, when he earned a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and produced a 1.022 OPS in the Cape Cod League. He carried that momentum into his draft year, when he hit .374/.539/.704 for California. The White Sox drafted him with the third overall pick, signed him for a bonus of $7,221,200 and then let him get his feet wet as a pro at both levels of Class A. Scouting Report: The White Sox were drawn to Vaughn because of a simple, powerful swing that allowed his barrel to stay in the zone for a long time. Combined with excellent strength and bat speed, Vaughn projects as a classic masher who could produce average and power in the middle of an order. It’s easy to envision him slotting into a lineup that includes Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez come 2021. If he succeeds, he’ll have done his part to strip away the stigma associated with spending a high draft pick on a first baseman who both hits and throws righthanded. Vaughn is agile and has solid hands, so he should be a capable defender. The Future: Because of his advanced pedigree, Vaughn should make his debut in the upper levels in 2020. Though a return to high Class A Winston-Salem to start the year (like Robert and Nick Madrigal did in 2019) isn’t out of the question.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 80. Curveball: 50. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: Kopech was a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2014, then was dealt in the 2016 trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston. He impressed quickly over his first full season with his new organization, then made his big league debut on Aug. 21, 2018. His success in the majors gave the White Sox a peek at their bright future, but that optimism was scuttled when Kopech had Tommy John surgery. He spent all season recovering before returning in the fall instructional league. Scouting Report: When healthy, Kopech showed the makings of a dynamic pitch mix. His fastball sat in the 95-98 mph range and touched 102. He added a two-seam fastball while with Triple-A Charlotte as well. The velocity was amplified by improved command achieved through a more repeatable delivery. His slider had earned plus grades since he was in high school and is his best offspeed pitch throughout his pro career. The key for Kopech’s development was the much-improved changeup he showed before his big league debut. The Future: After rehabbing all season long, Kopech is likely to be ready to go for spring training and should quickly assume a place in Chicago’s rapidly improving rotation.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 30. Run: 60. Fielding: 60. Arm: 40. Track Record: All Madrigal does is hit. That has been true at Oregon State—where he was part of the Beavers’ 2018 College World Series winners—in summer collegiate leagues and as a pro. Madrigal has maintained a .311 average over his first season and a half in the minors and has walked more times (44) than he’s struck out (16). He made it to Triple-A Charlotte by the end of 2019 and looks like another enviable piece in a White Sox lineup that is becoming younger and more talented. Scouting Report: Madrigal’s biggest strength is his ability to make contact, which he’s done with aplomb. He has exceptional hand-eye coordination, which allows him to manipulate the barrel to any part of the strike zone with ease. After being an almost exclusively opposite-field hitter in his introduction to the minor leagues, Madrigal learned to pull the ball more in 2019 and produced an all-fields spray chart. He has shown almost no over-the-fence power as a pro or in college, with just 12 home runs over 1,240 combined at-bats. His last home run in 2019 stayed inside the park. After playing some shortstop in college, Madrigal has played exclusively second base as a pro and shows the hands, range and feet for the position, but there are scouts who question whether his arm is strong enough to turn double plays while a runner is bearing down on him. He is a plus runner. The Future: Madrigal likely will return to Triple-A Charlotte to begin the year but should make his big league debut in 2020. He has all the skills to hit at the top or bottom of a lineup and provide defensive value up the middle.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Extreme Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 45. Track Record: Thompson had long been famous on the amateur circuit thanks to a 90-96 mph fastball, feel for spin and high-end athleticism. He showed all those characteristics during his senior season, but not as consistently as scouts would have wanted. Still, the White Sox were convinced that the pitcher they’d seen in previous seasons was the one they were going to get when they drafted him in the second round. He signed for $2.1 million instead of heading to Texas A&M. He made two one-inning starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League and then made a few more appearances in the instructional league. Scouting Report: Though his stuff was up and down in his high school finale, the White Sox saw Thompson when he was throwing 93-96 with carry through the zone. That further reinforced his status in their minds as someone worthy of a high draft pick. He paired the four-seam fastball with a two-seamer in the low 90s that showed strong armside run and sink. Thompson’s curveball is a deep breaker that the White Sox believe could get to plus as it develops. His slider—a two-plane breaker in the mid-80s—could get there as well. His breaking balls blend with one another at times, which is common for pitchers coming out of the prep ranks. His changeup is his clear fourth pitch, though it has a chance to get to average if he tweaks the way he delivers the pitch to let his shoulders and arm get all the way through. A wrist wrap in his delivery left some scouts concerned about his future control. The Future: Thompson’s stuff, athleticism and projection gives him the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. He’s likely to open 2020 in extended spring training before heading to Rookie-level Great Falls.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 55. Changeup: 40. Control: 45. Track Record: After a nondescript pro debut in his draft year, Stiever was the organization’s biggest breakout story in 2019. He dominated both levels of Class A and finished with 154 strikeouts, which ranked second in the system. He turned it on in particular when he got to high Class A Winston-Salem, where he went 6-4, 2.15 with 77 strikeouts in 71 innings. Scouting Report: Stiever’s signature is his fastball, which sears in at 92-97 mph with regularity. He backs them up with a pair of breaking balls that each have a chance to reach above-average with further consistency. His changeup is well behind his breaking balls but provides a bit of a wrinkle at times. The power associated with his arsenal also gives him a larger margin of error than is typically afforded to pitchers whose repertoire rely more on finesse. If he doesn’t have his best command on a given day, he can rely on his fastball to simply blow hitters away. He controls his arsenal well despite a high-effort delivery that features a head-whack. The Future: Evaluators see a forked path ahead for Stiever. If one of his breaking pitches steps forward, he’s got a good chance to be a high-value starter. If not, he could provide value as a setup man who dominates hitters with his fastball. He’ll head to Double-A Birmingham in 2020.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Extreme Tool Grades: Fastball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: The second of two high school arms the White Sox took in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft, Dalquist showed an impressive three-pitch mix as an amateur at Redondo Union HS. He was considered to be a tough sign away from his commitment to Arizona, but the White Sox got their man by offering a signing bonus of $2 million. The figure was the third-highest in the third round. Dalquist made three one-inning starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League and a few more outings in the fall instructional league. Scouting Report: Though his stuff isn’t as explosive as Matthew Thompson, whom the White Sox took a round earlier, none of his pitches projects as worse than average, either. Dalquist starts his arsenal with a 90-94 mph fastball and combines with a slider and a changeup that each could be average pitches. His changeup is farther along the developmental trail than the slider. Dalquist raised his profile in the eyes of the White Sox as the season progressed, and area scout Mike Baker stayed on him. He was impressed by the way he held his velocity through starts and the ease of operation in his delivery. The Future: Dalquist is likely to stay back in extended spring training to begin his season before moving to Rookie-level Great Falls in the second half. He has the ceiling of No. 4 starter in the big leagues.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 50. Run: 50. Fielding: 45. Arm: 50. Track Record: Walker earned a rep as an amateur—both at Oklahoma and in summer college leagues—as a talented hitter. His .333 average and .514 slugging percentage placed him second in both categories on the 2017 Collegiate National Team that included future White Sox prospects Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn and Konnor Pilkington. His two home runs with the CNT tied him for the top spot. The White Sox selected him in the second round a year later and signed him for $2 million. A lingering oblique injury put a damper on his production in his first pro season. Scouting Report: Walker won’t wow you with one particular tool, but the sum of his parts gives him a high floor. His swing is rhythmic and lofted, which helped him hit for average and power in his first full season while striking out at a rate of just 14.9 percent. Walker’s power, which is potentially above-average, shows up mostly to the pull side—all but two of his 15 career homers are to right field. Evaluators would like to see him spread his extra-base hits around more often before they are confident that he’ll reach his ceiling. Walker has enough athleticism to play center field, but he’ll likely slide to left field as he develops. He has an average arm and is an average runner. The Future: After an excellent first full season as a pro, Walker will get his first taste of the upper levels in 2020 when he heads to Double-A Birmingham. He doesn’t have the high ceiling of some of the players on this list, but second-division regular floor is higher than most.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 55. Control: 55. Track Record: Just months after being drafted by the Nationals, Dunning was dealt to the White Sox with righties Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez as the price to bring outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington. He was impressive in his first two seasons with the White Sox but an elbow strain late in 2018 led to Tommy John surgery that cost him all of the 2019 season. Scouting Report: Before the surgery, Dunning had the makings of a classic sinker/slider starter. He worked his low-to-mid-90s heater toward the bottom of the zone—he’d been making special effort to max out his extension maximize the pitch’s effectiveness—and couples that with a mid-80s slider with 10-to-4 break. He moved to a spike grip on his curveball, which has above-average potential. He also throws a mid-80s slider that could be above-average if it reaches its potential. The Future: Dunning had Tommy John surgery in mid-March 2019, meaning he will likely miss the first part of the 2020 regular season. Dunning has returned to the mound, and was throwing at the team’s complex in Glendale in November. If he returns to his pre-surgery form, he could nestle into the middle of a young, talented White Sox rotation.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 40. Run: 45. Fielding: 50. Arm: 40. Track Record: Rutherford was taken by the Yankees with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 draft, then dealt to the White Sox a year later in a trade that returned Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to New York. He’s spent the last two seasons trying to add enough strength to produce profile corner-outfield power from his sweet lefthanded swing. Scouting Report: As an amateur and a professional, Rutherford has gained a reputation as a professional hitter from the left side. As a pro, he’s matched a walk rate of 7.9 percent with a strikeout rate of 20.4 percent and has shown the ability every season to spray hits from line to line. The projected power, however, has not shown up. He’s never topped seven home runs in a season and his over-the-fence power has shown up exclusively to the pull side. Evaluators within the organization believe Rutherford entered the year showing the type of power they’d been looking for, but a long season in the humid Southern League masked any gains Rutherford had made. His slightly below-average footspeed makes him an emergency option in center field, and his below-average throwing arm limits him to left field. The Future: Rutherford will likely start 2020 back at Double-A Birmingham, but his power could spike once he gets to Triple-A Charlotte, where the cozy confines and the livelier MLB ball make for extremely hitter-friendly conditions. Until his power develops, Rutherford will continue to present a tricky profile problem.
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