BA Newsletter: Subscribe Today!
Use the options to filter your search.
There was no way Joe Borchard was going to be inconspicuous last season. The record $5.3 million bonus he got in 2000 blew his cover. But even if it hadn't, the switch-hitting Borchard would have stood out because of his tools and how well he used them in the first full season of baseball in his life. Despite being based in a pitcher's park, he led the Double-A Southern League in RBIs and finished second in homers and in the MVP voting. According to football scouting guru Mel Kiper, Borchard could have been one of the first players taken in the 2002 NFL draft had he continued to play quarterback at Stanford. His performance was immediate validation for White Sox senior scouting director Duane Shaffer, who says Borchard had the best power of any college hitter since Mark McGwire. He maintained a football player's flair for the big moment while avoiding the long funks associated with the baseball grind. He homered from both sides of the plate on April 10, his fifth game of the season and only his 32nd as a pro. He went 4-for-8 with two homers and a double in three all-star games. Borchard is a better hitter from the left side but didn't have pronounced platoon differences in 2002. He has a plus arm but still is making the transition from quarterback to outfield. Last year, he moved from right field to center, which could be his quickest route to the big leagues. Effort isn't an issue, as he comes early and stays late. The White Sox hope he will give away fewer at-bats as he gains experience. They're willing to accept strikeouts if he provides power, especially from center field. While Borchard is an excellent athlete, it takes him time to get his 6-foot-5 frame moving. His range is below-average in center, but some scouts believe it's his best position. He seemed tentative when used on the corners in the Arizona Fall League. Borchard should fit in well at the remodeled Comiskey Park, which turned into a launching pad after the fences were brought in. He's a good bet for 30-plus homers as a rookie, with the better question being whether it happens now or in 2003. Borchard's ability as a student will determine whether he can make better contact and get to more balls in the outfield, thus delivering on his all-star potential.
Shoulder problems cost Rauch, Baseball America's 2000 Minor League Player of the Year, a chance to establish himself with the White Sox last season. He made six starts with Triple-A Charlotte before having surgery to clean out his shoulder. Otherwise he may have made the same kind of leap as fellow 2000 U.S. Olympians Ben Sheets and Roy Oswalt. Rauch is an inch taller than Randy Johnson and has unusual command for such a tall pitcher. His mechanics are solid and he locates his pitches well. His fastball should return to the mid-90s. Rauch complements it with two above-average breaking pitches and has made progress with his changeup. His height gives him arm angles that are foreign to hitters. He's a good athlete who moves around well, but he figures to have more trouble with comebackers and bunts than other pitchers. He has yet to establish his durability. Rauch is viewed as a future No. 1 starter but could need at least one season in Triple-A, or perhaps even back in Double-A, before making the jump to Chicago. His health will be watched closely until he re-establishes himself.
Everything came together in 2001 for the hard-working Malone, who planned to play linebacker at Alabama-Birmingham before the Sox drafted him. After relieving in the low minors, he soared when given the chance to start, beginning the year in the South Atlantic League and ending it with a victory in the Southern League playoffs. While Malone has great tools, he's also a top student. He has a 93-94 mph fastball, and hitters react as if it's in the high 90s. That helps his other pitches, the best of which is a snapping curveball. He gained confidence in his curve throughout last season, throwing it for strikes even when behind in the count. He averaged 7.9 walks per nine innings in his first two pro seasons but cut that figure to 3.6 in 2001. Now he needs to work on his command in the strike zone. He didn't throw many changeups as a reliever and still is developing the pitch. Pitching coordinator Don Cooper compares Malone's rise to that of Jason Bere, who helped the White Sox win a division title in 1993 after starting the previous season in low Class A. Malone could have that same kind of sudden impact, but his likely ETA is mid-2003.
At first glance, it doesn't appear there's anything special about Guerrier. But don't be misled. He may not dominate but he wins, compiling a 26- 8, 2.80 record in three pro seasons. He rang up 38 saves in his first 1 1/2 years in the system but pitched even better when given a chance to start, leading the minors with 18 wins in 2001. Guerrier is out of the Greg Maddux mold. His fastball averages only 88-89 mph but is one of four pitches he can throw at any time in the count. His curveball, slider and changeup are all plus pitches and he does a tremendous job of establishing, then following, a plan of attack. He holds runners well and fields his position. He shows signs of being a workhorse. With his velocity, Guerrier doesn't have much margin for error, though. The Sox will watch closely to see how he rebounds from pitching 200 innings (including 20 in the Arizona Fall League) last year. With the major league rotation uncertain beyond Mark Buehrle, Guerrier is a sleeper to watch in spring training. He could do what more heralded prospects like Kip Wells and Jon Garland could not, nailing down a spot in his first try.
A two-time minor league MVP, Crede has become a staple on this list but almost certainly will graduate this time around. Many expected him to become the regular third baseman last season but he failed to break through, instead spending his first year in Triple-A. His offensive totals were down from previous seasons and his late-season showing in Chicago qualified as a disappointment. The White Sox drafted his brother Josh in the 48th round last June but didn't sign him. Crede is a productive hitter, especially when he trusts himself to drive the ball to the opposite field, and has shown the ability to come back from long slumps. He's a smooth fielder with good range and a plus arm. He could be part of a much-needed defensive improvement for the White Sox. Expectations have been high for Crede since he was the Carolina League MVP at age 20. He expects so much from himself that he's too critical at times. Despite playing in more than 600 games, he hasn't shown signs of cutting down his annual triple-digit strikeout totals. With Herbert Perry out of the picture, the Sox appear ready to give Crede 300-400 at-bats this season. He'll need to produce to play for a team with playoff aspirations.
Hummel was a polished hitter when the White Sox drafted him. He has moved all over the infield, settling in at second base in the second half of 2001. He spent his first full season as a pro in Double-A and then continued to be pushed in the Arizona Fall League. Hummel is an offensive player with lots of upside. He's a rare righthanded hitter described as having a stylish swing. He hits for average and is selective at the plate, traits that have given him a career .380 on-base percentage as a pro. Hummel uses the whole field. He showed emerging power last season but projects more as an ideal No. 2 hitter. He has a plus arm for second base but needs to work on his first step in the field. His range is limited, though he compensates with a good positioning. He isn't fluid on the pivot but makes up for it with solid throws. With Ray Durham in the last season of his contract, Hummel could be a 2003 regular. For that to be a successful transition for the White Sox, however, Hummel must improve enough defensively to be superior to Durham, a consistent liability through the years.
Following in the footsteps of Oakland's Mark Mulder, Honel is the rare first-round pitcher who has survived an education in the batting cages around Chicago. He was projected as a possible top 10 pick before slipping to the 16th overall. That's the highest an Illinois high school pitcher has been selected since the Angels took Bob Kipper with the eighth pick in June 1982. Honel is big, strong and has excellent mechanics. He has hit 95 on guns and averages 91-92 with good movement. That's plenty of heat, considering he has two pitches better than his fastball--a knuckle-curve that acts like a slider, and a plus changeup. Like most kids just out of high school, Honel has some growing up to do. His emotions can get the better of him on the mound. He was bothered by minor elbow problems after signing, which caused his velocity to sink to the mid-80s at times. Scouting director Doug Laumann considers Honel to be from the Mark Prior starter kit. If he makes steady progress the next three years, he could become a homegrown star in his hometown.
The White Sox' pitching surplus allowed them to trade Chad Bradford to Oakland for a potential long-term catcher. Olivo responded to the deal by turning in excellent seasons in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League, where managers voted him to the all-prospect team. After never playing more than 77 games in a season, he held together for 111 between the two stops. Arm strength always has been Olivo's calling card, but he has developed into a promising hitter, putting up on-base plus slugging percentages better than .800 in both Birmingham and the AFL. His total of 14 Double-A homers was impressive in a pitcher's park. Scouts still rave about Olivo's strong arm, with one saying it was the best he saw all season. He is prone to strikeouts. By all accounts, he still needs work on his receiving skills. His ability to call games and work with pitchers is the last hurdle between him and the big leagues. Olivo will open 2002 in Triple-A but could figure in Chicago's catching mix at some point this season. He's a strong candidate for regular duty in 2003 and is putting pressure on veteran Mark Johnson and second-year man Josh Paul.
Along with players like Corwin Malone, Edwin Almonte and Kyle Kane, Ulacia was one of the biggest success stories in the organization last season. The White Sox knew the potential was there, yet had to be amazed at how a 20-year-old could bounce back from a 4-14 season in low Class A to go a combined 15-5, 2.86, including a complete-game victory in a Triple-A emergency start. He ended a remarkable year by throwing a four-hit shutout in the Southern League playoffs. Nothing bothers Ulacia, whose mound presence belies his age. He has a complete selection of pitches, complementing a low-90s fastball with a plus breaking ball. He does a good job changing speeds. His changeup is a work in progress. His quick rise to the top of the system may have left him lacking in defensive fundamentals. Ulacia has made only four starts above Class A but is likely to come quickly. He has shown the White Sox that he's mentally tough, making him a candidate to pitch in the big leagues soon. He'll probably begin the year in Double-A.
Rowand spent more than half of last season with the White Sox, including 34 starts in the outfield, but still narrowly qualifies for this list. The most memorable moment of his rookie season came when he crashed into an outfield wall, taking away an extra-base hit to temporarily preserve a Mark Buehrle bid for a no-hitter. Rowand played with a sore shoulder afterward and watched his batting average slide from .316 on Sept. 1. He is a promising run producer who shortened his swing working with big league batting coach Gary Ward. Rowand also tightened his strike zone, chasing fewer pitches. He has hit at least 20 homers in each of the last three seasons but is more of a line-drive hitter. Rowand has spent most of his career playing the outfield corners but did a decent job in center for the White Sox. He has a strong arm but doesn't truly fit any of the outfield positions. Rowand runs OK but not as well as a typical center fielder. He also doesn't have quite the home-run power of a corner outfielder. Rowand could spend 2002 as Chicago's regular in left or center, depending on the status of Carlos Lee and Chris Singleton.
After three solid but nondescript seasons in the White Sox system, Almonte made his presence known with 36 saves in Double-A. Not only did he break Jerry Spradlin's Southern League record, but he also totaled the most saves ever by a Sox minor leaguer. He has a career ratio of 3.5 strikeouts for every walk while compiling a 2.90 ERA, which he lowered considerably last season. Almonte is considered a younger version of Keith Foulke. His out pitch is an excellent changeup, which he sets up by locating a fastball that occasionally hits 90 mph but is generally in the upper 80s. Growing up on the streets of New York gave him the mental toughness needed to work late innings. Plus Almonte knows how to pitch. He won't overpower hitters. His slider is a solid pitch but he must work to be able to locate it when he's behind in the count, keeping hitters from sitting on his fastball. With Foulke's salary rising, Almonte is well positioned as a closer-in-waiting. If the Sox are convinced he can do the job, they'll be tempted to listen to offers for Foulke, who is two seasons away from free agency.
While aggressive advancement has created mixed results with many of their young pitchers, Ginter is the White Sox' biggest tease. The 1999 first-round pick has been successful in the minors, posting a 2.60 ERA while doing most of his work at the upper levels, but he frequently has fallen apart when promoted to the big leagues. The difference lies in his ability to throw strikes. Major league hitters aren't as quick to chase Ginter's hard slider, leaving him too often working behind in the count. The slider is a dynamite pitch that he combines with a low-90s fastball to overmatch righthanders. He has developed a decent changeup but he needs to command his fastball better. Ginter has pitched well as a starter in the minors but his future appears to be in the bullpen. He once was viewed as a future closer or middle- of-the-rotation starter, but the Sox will be tickled if he establishes himself in any role. Ginter will go to camp this spring with a chance to win a job as a long man.
Another product of a rich 1999 draft in which the White Sox selected pitchers with 14 of their first 15 picks, West continues a textbook, step-at-a-time climb up the system. The former Texas A&M football recruit pitched at age 20 in the high Class A Carolina League last year and figures to get a year in Double-A at age 21. He's strong, throws hard and is developing a good idea about pitching. West has a two-seam fastball that hits the low 90s. He made a major step forward in 2001 by developing a dynamite changeup to go with his slider. He's working on a curveball to use as his fourth pitch. He's also a good athlete who fields his position well. Given the arms ahead of him, it's hard to see West jumping to the big leagues from Birmingham, but a strong season there will put him on the threshold of what should be a long major league career.
If prospects were measured on neck size alone, Rogowski would be among baseball's elite. The powerfully built heavyweight wrestling champ from Michigan is a brute but not an oaf. His athleticism allowed him to be a high school standout in football as well as baseball and wrestling. Unranked on this list a year ago, he's No. 14 with a bullet. While the White Sox love his potential as a power hitter--he homered into the upper deck at Tiger Stadium while still in high school--managers also rated him the best defensive first baseman in the South Atlantic League last season. Rogowski improved as a hitter in 2001, chasing fewer pitches and driving the ball in hitter's counts. He's a long way away from Comiskey Park but will get every opportunity to get there if he continues to show 30-plus homer potential.
This guy has come to the right place. With tremendous arm strength and an erratic delivery, Allen fits the mold of raw pitchers such as Dan Wright and Corwin Malone, who harnessed their talent in a hurry after joining the White Sox system. Allen opened scouts' eyes by beating Middle Tennessee State's Dewon Brazelton (the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 draft) in an NCAA regional showdown. He was running on fumes after Chicago selected him with a supplemental first-round pick it received after losing Charles Johnson to free agency. He still reduced his ERA from 6.30 as a Tennessee junior to 3.16 with low Class A Kannapolis. He was clocked at 97 mph in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2000, but generally works at 93-94 with two- and four-seam fastballs he throws to both sides of the plate. His curveball needs improvement and the Sox are working to give him a changeup. Allen may not have as much upside as Wright, but he could come to the big leagues just as quickly.
Mr. Everything as a high school star in the Pacific Northwest, Stumm was the most highly regarded of the truckload of talented pitchers the White Sox collected in the 1999 draft. Now he has become the organization's Concern No. 1. Elbow reconstruction cost him most of the last two seasons and he hasn't had as smooth a recovery as many Tommy John surgery survivors. Stumm returned in a little more than a year to make four outings in the Rookie-level Arizona League last August, but he suffered a setback that may keep his comeback from beginning in earnest this spring. When he was healthy, Stumm could hit 96-97 mph with his fastball. His slider and changeup are works in progress that have been delayed by his pitching just 133 innings in his first 2 1/2 seasons as a pro. Stumm, a league MVP in football and basketball in high school, gets high marks for leadership and character. If he can get back on track, the early adversity could make him a hardened competitor.
Don't judge this book by its cover. The little Dominican may have been standing on a telephone book when he was measured at 5-foot-9, but he's a fighter with lots of heart. Munoz had enough talent for the White Sox to sign him at age 16, and he needed only one season at their Dominican academy to earn a coveted visa. Last year he held hitters to a .161 average and averaged 13.0 strikeouts per nine innings in the South Atlantic League, which he led with 60 appearances. Munoz has an eye-popping, Barry Zito-style curveball that makes him essentially unhittable for lefthanders. He complements it with another effective curveball that breaks down. His fastball is sneaky fast, reaching the low 90s at times. Opponents almost never try to run against Munoz, whose move to first base is a true weapon. He needs to work on getting ahead of hitters, as he has walked 5.2 per nine innings in his short career. He won't turn 20 until the middle of this season, which means his velocity could increase in coming years. He has all the makings of a feared situational lefty.
It has been 26 seasons since the White Sox had a homegrown regular at shortstop. They've spent several high draft picks trying to end that drought, including a first-rounder on Jason Dellaero in 1997. Since trading Bucky Dent after 1976, they've gone outside the organization for their last 11 primary shortstops, with only Ozzie Guillen having staying power. Gonzalez, a fifth-round pick in the 2001 draft, played well enough in the Arizona League to establish himself as a strong candidate to end the trend. He's a big kid in the mold of Alex Rodriguez and shows the potential to develop into a run-producing hitter as well as a solid fielder. The ball jumps off his bat with 25-homer potential. Gonzalez moves well at short but piled up errors in his pro debut, which was to be expected. His arm is above average. Some teams, in fact, considered drafting him as a pitcher after he threw in the low 90s following his move from Puerto Rico to a Florida high school for his senior year. His few critics question how he will hold up to a full-season grind. The only other question is how Gonzalez lasted until the fifth round of the draft.
This guy is an example of better late than never. Kane, whose strong arm prompted the White Sox to select him ahead of Jim Parque and Rocky Biddle in the 1997 draft, entered last season as a candidate to be released and finished it as one of the more upwardly mobile pitchers in the organization. He handled every challenge thrown his way, compiling a 2.15 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 59 innings over 40 appearances as he rose from high Class A to Triple-A. He followed up on that by winning the ERA title (1.80) and a spot on the manager's all-prospect team in the Arizona Fall League. It's hard to believe this was the same guy who had been overweight and seemingly indifferent in his first three pro seasons. Knee injuries and a lack of experience on the mound contributed to Kane's early difficulties but his talent is obvious. He throws 95 mph with a slider that longtime major leaguer Bob Stanley says might be the hardest he's ever seen. Kane was added to the 40-man roster and has a chance to open eyes in spring training. His advancement depends on him getting a little more command on his fastball and doing a better job slowing runners. If his head is right, he's got a chance.
Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Wylie made huge leaps in 2001. He tied for the Southern League lead with 15 wins, earning a spot on the 40-man roster. He helped Birmingham to a second-half title with a nine-game winning streak in which his ERA was 1.89. Wylie's work ethic during his rehab has allowed him to come back throwing harder than he did before surgery. His fastball has been clocked at 95 mph and generally parks in the 91-93 range. He takes charge on the mound and isn't afraid to knock batters off the plate, hitting 12 last season. His changeup is his second-best pitch but he needs to improve his slider. He also must work on holding runners and cutting down his time to the plate. Wylie will be challenged by a move to Triple-A, where he will be based in a hitter's park. While he's behind the cast of usual suspects, there are openings in the major league rotation. Wylie could put himself into the picture at some point this season if he finds the groove he was in last July and August.
Lantigua has a chance to end the White Sox' drought in the Dominican Republic. He emerged from deep in the ranks of the organization's pitchers, pitching well enough in spring training to earn a spot in high Class A and ending the 2001 season with an unbeaten run in Double-A. Lantigua has a live arm and gets lots of movement on his fastball. His slider is also a good pitch. Both of those help him set up a devastating changeup that has become his best pitch. Lantigua needs work commanding his fastball. He also must improve his mound presence, as he sometimes lets his emotions get the better of him. He can be nasty when everything's working, as it did in two shutouts and a combined no-hitter in 2001. He'll return to Double-A in 2002, when a solid season could put him in the crowd of pitchers competing for spots on the Chicago staff.
This guy was as raw as they come beginning his pro career but wasted no time putting his athleticism on display. Webster wasn't drafted until the 15th round in 2001 but impressed managers enough to be rated the No. 7 prospect in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Skippers liked his hard-nosed approach as much as his ability. He finished second in the AZL in stolen bases and fourth in hits. An outstanding high school tailback recruited by Southeastern Conference schools, Webster has intrigued the Sox with his combination of quickness and strength. He shows power to the gaps and uses his speed to get extra-base hits. He covers lots of ground in center but time will tell whether he stays there or moves to a corner. The Sox will know more about Webster after he plays a full season, but it appears all the pieces are there.
A strong first half in 2001 got Reyes promoted to high Class A at age 19. While the undersized Dominican struggled at the plate against tougher pitching, he did nothing to cool enthusiasm over his long-term potential. He has moved between second base and shortstop in three seasons in the organization but settled in at shortstop last year, where he stood out in the South Atlantic League. He's a smooth fielder with soft hands and enough arm strength to play short. His range is excellent at second but only average at shortstop. Reyes isn't a burner but is a good basestealer. A switch-hitter, he's tough to strike out but not strong enough to do much damage. The key for Reyes is to continue improving as a hitter, especially his on-base ability. The Sox believe he'll play in the major leagues, and his bat will determine if it's as a regular or a reserve.
It was a tale of two seasons for this Texan, who ranked No. 11 on this list a year ago. Majewski came unglued after going to the Dodgers in the Antonio Osuna trade at the end of spring training, but reasserted himself after Chicago reacquired him in the James Baldwin deal. These developments don't say much for his ability to adjust but the White Sox are happy to have him back. He throws 92-93 mph with late movement, prompting batters to hit the ball on the ground while returning to the dugout mumbling about his "heavy'' ball. Majewski has yet to polish the other pitches to complement his natural sinker, but his slider is showing improvement. He looks unassuming but has a headhunter's mindset. After two years in Class A, he'll be tested in Double-A in 2002.
Few catchers get the ball to second as quickly as Quintero. He possesses both a cannon for an arm and quick feet, allowing him to consistently get the ball to the bag in 1.8 seconds. That's Pudge Rodriguez territory. Quintero threw out 49 percent of runners last season between the South Atlantic League, where he was a midseason all-star, and the Carolina League. But his bat continues to lag far behind his defensive skills. He's likely to be promoted to Double-A in 2002 but has not yet shown he can hit even high Class A pitching. Quintero can make contact but rarely drives the ball or draws a walk. The White Sox hope he'll be a late-blooming hitter as he gets stronger. He played in his native Venezuela this winter, which could help him make the jump to Birmingham.
Valenzuela is a sleeper. He played well enough in a season split between Double-A and Triple-A to earn a job in the Arizona Fall League and consideration for a 40-man roster spot. Though he finished second in the AFL with eight homers, the White Sox left him off their roster but were happy nobody pounced on him in the major league Rule 5 draft. Valenzuela is a poor man's Magglio Ordonez without quite as much bat speed. His tools are average across the board but he has become a consistent run producer. His power has emerged over the last two seasons. He's not flashy, but he makes all the plays in right field and has enough arm for the position. With Ordonez, Carlos Lee, Jeff Liefer, Joe Borchard and Aaron Rowand on hand, Valenzuela faces steep odds to break through with the White Sox. But he's the kind of player another organization might want in a trade.
Mark Buehrle and Corwin Malone weren't hyped when they came into the White Sox organization but appear destined to excel. Phillips, who like Buehrle pitched well immediately as a draft-and-follow, is positioned to follow in their footsteps. He was one of the top hitters and pitchers in the Florida junior colleges last spring in his lone season at Lake City (Fla.) CC. The organization's coaches say it's eerie how much Phillips reminds them of Buehrle. He arrived with surprising poise and polish, requiring only some fine-tuning to keep him from rushing his delivery. In his half-season in low Class A, Phillips had a 3-1 strikeout-walk ratio and a lower ERA than Buehrle had in his pro debut. Phillips' best pitches are a fastball that dances and a slider. Though the White Sox probably won't push him as quickly as they did Buehrle, who arrived in the majors in his second pro season, they won't be surprised if Phillips moves fast.
After failing to sign high school All-America catchers in the last two drafts, the Sox invested $390,000 in a kid who they got to know because he hung out around their ballpark at Triple-A Charlotte. He may not have come with the resumes of Jonathan Zeringue (a 2001 third-rounder who opted to play at Louisiana State) and Tony Richie (a 2000 fifth-rounder now at Florida State), but the Sox think as highly of Lisk, who slid to the 24th round because he seemed intent on playing for the University of South Carolina. He's an advanced prospect for his age, showing soft hands, a good arm behind the plate and the potential to hit with power. Lisk got high marks in a brief audition in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He's part of a striking upgrade in the organization's catching depth over the last two years, which also includes trades for Miguel Olivo and Lee Evans, plus the draft-and-follow signing of bilingual Wally Rosa.
Twice Sager seemed destined to be a first-round pick, but he lasted until the 13th round last June after an injury-plagued junior season at Georgia Tech. He was drafted in the same round out of high school, but only slid that far because he was set on attending Stanford, and the Diamondbacks' $1 million bonus offer couldn't dissuade him. Sager spent two years at Stanford before transferring to Georgia Tech for 2001, when he pitched just 26 innings because of forearm problems. After drafting him, the White Sox took a wait-andsee approach. Sager had October surgery to repair a decompressed nerve in his forearm, then impressed Chicago in two bullpen sessions in Arizona before signing for $385,000. He has classic pitcher's size and his fastball and slider are big league pitches when he's healthy, though that has been rare in the last two years. He also had shoulder problems at Stanford in 2000. The Sox will take a good look at him in spring training before deciding where Sager will debut.
It's hard not to notice a pitcher who begins his pro career with 62 strikeouts and zero unintentional walks. That's what the lanky Kirkland did in the Rookie-level Arizona League after signing with the Sox as an undrafted college senior. This strike-throwing machine had dropped only a few hints of his potential at Troy State, where he went 5-5, 5.70 as a senior. He used an unusually funky splitter to come into his own when the Sox tried him as a closer. He led the AZL in ERA, saves and opponent batting average (.158). Kirkland throws a darting slider and a two-seam fastball that hits 91 mph with movement. The Sox believe he'll gain velocity from their weight-training program. He was old for Rookie ball at 22, so the Sox will hold off on hyperbole until he passes the tests they plan for him at higher levels in 2002.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up