Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
A supplemental first-round pick of the White Sox out of a Miami high school in 1985, Gonzalez signed for $850,000. He had been projected to go in the first round until he was dismissed from his high school team after his mother got into a dispute with his coach over her other son's playing time. Gonzalez had barely turned 20 when he was traded for the first time, going to the Phillies as a key piece in the Jim Thome trade after the 2005 season. He was back with Chicago 13 months later, returning as part of a deal for Freddy Garcia. Gonzalez has spent the last two seasons in Double-A and should benefit from the experience. He was as close to overpowering as anyone in the Southern League last year, striking out a minors-best 185 in only 150 innings and holding hitters to a .216 batting average and 10 homers--down from 24 at Reading the year before. He also cut his walks significantly, showing better command and confidence. Gonzalez' bread and butter is a sharp-breaking two-plane curveball that he doesn't hesitate to throw in any count. It complements a fastball that generally parks in the low 90s but can spike upward to 96 mph. His fastball has some natural sink, allowing him to get his share of groundballs. He can change speeds with his fastball, adding and subtracting throughout the game and sometimes saving his best velocity for the late innings. Gonzalez is as effective against righthanded hitters as he is against lefties, making it difficult for opposing managers to stack a lineup to face him. He has a fundamentally simple, smooth and repeatable delivery from a high three-quarters arm slot. His changeup isn't at the same level of his other two pitches but improved considerably in 2007, largely because he was committed to throwing it. At times when he throws across his body, Gonzalez will miss his intended location. His command is merely average and will be tested as he faces more advanced hitters, though he should be able to throw enough strikes. When the White Sox traded him away, some club officials questioned his makeup, especially a tendency to come unraveled on the mound when things got tough. He also carried some baggage from his suspension at the end of his senior season. Chicago has no makeup concerns at this point because he has matured as a pitcher and as a person. Gonzalez will go to big league camp for the third time in the spring. He's in a good situation, as he'll get a look but won't be especially under the gun. The likelihood is that he'll will open 2008 in the rotation at Triple-A Charlotte, though there does figure to be at least one opening for a starter in Chicago. Gonzalez figures to make his major league debut at some point this year and has the ability to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter.
The White Sox haven't done well signing and developing players from the Dominican Republic in recent years, but de los Santos is the type of prospect who makes the effort worthwhile. He flashed his potential in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2006, then burst onto the U.S. scene last year. He made the low Class A Kannapolis roster to open the season, flashed a 96-97 mph fastball and a plus slider in the Futures Game and finished by pitching well at high Class A Winston- Salem. De los Santos has a collection of plus pitches and the innate ability to use them. He has developed four pitches at a young age, including a fastball, slider and curveball that all rate among the best in the system, and he'll throw them all whether he's ahead or behind in the count. His fastball can overpower hitters, buzzing into the top of the strike zone in the mid-90s or at the bottom of the zone with sink in the low 90s. He has been poised on the mound and coachable on the sidelines, and made the often-difficult transition to the United States with impressive grace. De los Santos improved his changeup greatly over the course of the season but it remains a pitch in progress. He often throws it in the high 80s, not achieving enough differential from his fastball. More advanced hitters are more likely to lay off his breaking pitches, and he'll have to prove he can throw quality strikes when they do. He needs to polish his pickoff move. His high ceiling as a frontline starter could force him into major league consideration in a hurry. He could open 2008 at Double-A Birmingham and Chicago may break him into the majors as a reliever, as it did at a young age with Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland.
The White Sox went into the 2007 draft needing to improve the depth of their position prospects but still took pitchers with their first six picks. They landed the Poreda with the 25th overall pick and signed him for $1.2 million. He went from walk-on to No. 1 starter at San Francisco, then posted a 0.93 ERA (counting two scoreless playoff starts) in his pro debut. Poreda has a rare fastball for a lefthander. He pitched in the low- to mid-90s in college but actually gained velocity late in the season, hitting 98 mph multiple times in an August start and topping out at 100. He has the body to handle the stress of throwing hard--he played on both sides of the line as a high school footballer--and still could develop more physically. A lack of secondary pitches was the primary reason Poreda was still available when Chicago drafted. Both his slider and a changeup are works in progress. The White Sox were encouraged with his efforts improving the slider in instructional league, though he still needs to consistently throw it for strikes. He's raw for a college pitcher, needing work on the fine points of his craft. Poreda will open his first full season as a starter in Class A, but he eventually could wind up as a bigger version of Billy Wagner coming out of the bullpen. The Sox will monitor his secondary pitches closely this season as they try to settle on a career path for him. If they move him to relief, he could get to Chicago quickly--possibly even at season's end.
Broadway never has blown away scouts with his stuff but he knows how to pitch. He went 15-1 as a junior at Texas Christian to pitch his way up to the 15th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and he won his first major league start last September by shutting out the Royals for six innings. He needed just 63 minor league starts to reach Chicago. Broadway can throw strikes with four pitches, including a plus changeup. He impressed manager Ozzie Guillen by getting strikeouts on 3-2 sliders against Kansas City, showing surprising confidence considering he hadn't started in almost a month. His curveball is also considered a plus pitch. He learned a cut fastball from pitching coach Don Cooper while spending most of September in the White Sox bullpen. He's a workout freak who has proven durable in his two full seasons as a pro. Broadway's fastball rarely gets above 90 mph, leaving him in trouble on the days when he can't command his other pitches. He was inconsistent throughout most of 2007, as his walk rate rose to 4.5 per nine innings in Triple-A, up from 2.3 in Double- A the year before. By trading Jon Garland, Chicago increased Broadway's chances of making its Opening Day rotation. He'll compete with Gavin Floyd, Gio Gonzalez and others for the No. 5 slot in the rotation. He doesn't have a high ceiling but can be a serviceable back-end starter.
Lightly regarded while at Rutgers, Egbert has gotten better in each of his three full pro seasons. He has gone 35-24 in a system that isn't doing a lot of winning in the minors, putting himself within one rung of the big leagues. Consistently praised for his competitiveness, he quietly has improved the quality of his pitches and ranked second in the Southern League in victories (12) and strikeouts (165 in 162 innings) last season. Egbert throws strikes and puts pressure on hitters by coming right at them. His rapid-fire pace is a hit with everyone in the park except the hitters. He gets a lot of groundballs with his two-seam fastball, which parks in the high 80s, and his slider can be a go-to pitch at times. He has refined his changeup into a plus pitch. Egbert's fastball is fringe-average and he gets hurt when he throws it up in the strike zone. Some think his delivery can get a little long, but he makes adjustments on the fly. His performance could have dictated a second-half promotion to Triple-A, but Egbert benefited from a full year in Double-A. Projected as a No. 5 starter or swingman, he should open 2008 in Triple-A and could put himself into position to be an early callup with a strong showing in spring training.
After the White Sox traded slugger Chris Carter to the White Sox for Carlos Quentin, Sweeney once again became the top position player in the system. No. 1 on this list a year ago--in a split decision over Josh Fields--he has stalled. He has hit .213 in 80 big league at-bats and received a wakeup call when he was denied a promotion last September. Sweeney is a skilled fielder who has hit .289 in five minor league seasons, including three in the high minors. He came to the big leagues with a sweet swing and a willingness to hit the ball the other way and should be able to hit for a solid average when he gets regular playing time at the highest level. He has a plus arm and average speed, and he can play all three outfield positions. When Sweeney was in Double-A, manager Razor Shines projected he would develop 30-homer power, but he never has hit more than 13 in a season. Some believe he's the victim of overcoaching, having had his ability to hit line drives all over the park compromised by Chicago's overzealous attempts to help him hit for more power. He showed tremendous confidence as a teenager but appeared to beat himself up mentally last year. Sweeney had been projected to stick in the big leagues in 2007 and develop into a fixture in the Sox outfield by 2008, but he failed to seize the opportunity. Instead of trading Jermaine Dye, Chicago re-signed him and then dealt for Quentin. It's up to Sweeney to put himself back on the radar.
Like Fautino de los Santos, Martinez made an early impact in his first season in the United States. He benefited from opening in 2007 in extended spring training before showing signs that he could develop into a complete outfielder. He wore down late in the summer at Rookie-level Bristol. Martinez is a good athlete with a body reminiscent of a young Juan Gonzalez. Martinez has shown the skills to hit for average but is most intriguing to scouts in batting practice, when he displays his power potential. He has a lot of room to add strength as his body matures, making it easy to see him as a middle-of-the-order hitter. He runs well, stealing 12 bases in 14 tries last season, and is a solid outfielder. He has a plus arm that plays well in right field and he also covers enough ground to play center. Martinez is a raw package of skills. He was willing to use the whole field against righthanders but often looked to pull lefties, getting himself out on bad pitches. His plate discipline is encouraging for his age but he still strikes out too much. As he fills out, he'll slow down and most likely lose his ability to play center field. Martinez should be ready for low Class A at age 19. He's not nearly as polished as Ryan Sweeney or Chris Getz, but he has a higher ceiling.
Drafted by Chicago in the sixth round out of a Michigan high school and again in the fourth round after a college career split between Wake Forest and Michigan, Getz doesn't fit the mold of sleeper. Yet he flew under the radar until a breakout season in 2007, when he showed leadoff skills in Double-A. He missed two months with a leg injury and one manager noted that Birmingham wasn't the same without him. A baseball rat, Getz is fundamentally strong in all phases of the game, which allowed him to advance to Double-A in his first full season as a pro, and he's especially adept at getting on base and putting the ball in play. He struck out only 46 times in his three seasons of college ball and almost always has more walks than whiffs, showing that he's not afraid to hit with two strikes. He has a short, quick swing. His arm is strong enough that he was a closer for his high school team and even pitched at Michigan. He has average speed. Despite the strong arm, Getz profiles exclusively as a second baseman. He doesn't have great range despite having worked hard on his first-step quickness. He has no power, having hit just five homers in 202 Double-A games. He has good baserunning instincts but won't be a basestealing threat. For the moment, Getz is below Danny Richar on the White Sox' depth chart. He'll almost certainly start 2008 at Triple-A but figures to push Richar for the big-league job.
A product of Chicago's far South Side, Ely emerged as a prospect during his college career at Miami (Ohio). He boosted his standing for the 2007 draft with a strong showing in the Cape Cod League after his sophomore season, and did nothing to hurt it with a junior season that included a complete-game at Texas. Signed for $240,750 as a third-round pick, he has won wherever he has pitched, amassing a 59-13 record between high school, college and pro ball. Ely is a strike thrower who works quickly and comes right at hitters with three quality pitches--a low-90s fastball with good movement, a plus-plus changeup with sink and a curveball that improved throughout his pro debut. His fastball and changeup have a lot of life, inducing batters to beat them into the ground. He's a fierce competitor. Ely's lack of size and his max-effort delivery lead to concerns about his durability. But he has never had arm problems and his mechanics add to his deception without ruining his control. The White Sox would be best served to leave Ely's delivery alone. He should reach high Class A at some point this year and could be the first player from Chicago's 2007 draft class to reach the majors.
Given the way the White Sox historically have thrown around nickels like they were manhole covers in their pursuit of international players, it speaks highly of Silverio that he was deemed worthy of a $600,000 bonus based on the recommendation of scout Victor Mateo and special assistant Dave Wilder. In trying to restock a position of weakness, Chicago signed two other teenage shortstops from the Dominican, but Alexander Adame and Daurys Mercedes don't have Silverio's ceiling. Silverio shows all five tools at shortstop. He combines a quick bat with upper-body strength, enabling him to drive the ball around the park. He has a strong arm and a quick first step in the infield. He runs well, though he projects more as a Miguel Tejada-type shortstop than a true basestealer. There's still a lot of projection remaining in Silverio's frame, so there's concern he could outgrow shortstop and have to move to third base. His skills are untested because he has yet to make his pro debut, but Chicago was encouraged that he held his own as a 16-year-old in instructional league. Silverio figures to open 2008 in extended spring training, preparing to play at Rookielevel Bristol. The White Sox will need to develop him patiently, but the payoff could be huge. He's already by far the best shortstop prospect in the system.
It wasn't a surprise that Shelby hit during his first full season of pro ball. The biggest development for the son of former big league outfielder John "T-Bone'' Shelby was that he showed signs of making a successful transition to center field after playing mostly second base in college and in his first pro season. His athleticism played well in center field. He struggled at times with his routes to balls but had the speed to run down most of his mistakes and the instincts to know what to do with the ball when he got to it. His only defensive drawback is an arm that will challenge opponents to run on him, but the belief is he can be an above-average center fielder in time. Shelby's bat was the tool that caused the White Sox to select him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, and he continued to hit in low Class A. He flashed his power, compiling 60 extra-base hits, while getting on base enough to project as a possible No. 2 hitter. He runs well and is a solid worker and teammate. He's expected to open 2008 in high Class A, but he could get a look in Double-A before the season is over.
Following his breakout season in 2006, Russell's development slowed a little in what may have been a confusing season. He became one of the flavors of the month in spring training, when his 95-mph fastball and sharply breaking curveball made him a favorite of scouts in Arizona, but seemed to suffer a letdown when he wound up back in Double-A. He seemed his own worst enemy at times, opening the year in the rotation and ending it in the bullpen. He pitched well as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. Russell throws a 91-94 mph fastball from a variety of arm slots, emulating Jose Contreras after a suggestion in mid-2006 from from Winston-Salem pitching coach J.R. Perdew. Russell's curveball is a plus pitch at times but hitters don't chase it out of the strike zone. He is about as subtle as a lumberjack, using his build to gain some intimidation and durability. Russell's secondary pitches lag behind his fastball. He can get out of whack mechanically in a hurry and has a hard time getting himself back on track. The Sox would like him to work faster as he can think too much on the mound. While Russell has pitched primarily as a starter in the minors, the bullpen appears his most likely path to the big leagues. The White Sox need help in that area, and he figures to be a candidate for a job in spring training. He also could benefit from spending at least half a year in Triple-A.
By the nature of their status and signing bonuses, first-round picks almost always create a buzz in a farm system. However, the low-key McCulloch has been almost buzzproof since the White Sox selected him 29th overall in 2006 and handed him a $1.05 million bonus. He's a winner and an innings-eater, but he lacks the stuff to become a front-of-the-rotation starter. His best pitch is his plus changeup, which he throws in the high 70s to complement a fastball that generally sits in the high 80s, occasionally climbing to 91 mph. McCulloch used a new splitter last season in high Class A, where he was named Carolina League pitcher of the week three times, but rarely got into counts to use it after being promoted to Double-A. He has had problems with his delivery, which has some stabbing action toward the plate when it gets long. He does get a lot of groundouts, a point of emphasis for the White Sox. A former shortstop, he shows athleticism and competitiveness. He'll get another test from Double-A hitters this season, and he'll need to have more success against them to generate some buzz.
Griffith was regarded as a premium prospect as an underclassman in Florida, and his stock spiked after he pitched well in two outings against Tampa-area rival Hillsborough High and outfielder Michael Burgess, a supplemental first-round pick by the Nationals. A second-rounder in his own right, Griffith signed for $382,500. He's long, lean and athletic with a whippy arm action. He improved his balance over the rubber and incorporated his lower half more in his delivery as a high school senior, causing his velocity to spike. He can reach the mid-90s with a four-seamer that's very straight, or he can work at 90-92 mph with natural sink with a two-seamer. All of Griffith's other pitches need work. His slider can be tough to hit but lacks consistency. Ditto for his curveball and his changeup, which needs more work than the breaking pitches. His command is a question as well, with the White Sox working to smooth out a long delivery. The raw stuff is there and he's in an organization with a history of helping pitchers develop consistency. He'll try to win a spot in the low Class A rotation to open 2008.
Ranked among the system's best pitching prospects coming into 2007, Harrell missed the season after relatively minor repairs on his elbow. He also missed the end of the previous season with a strained trapezius muscle. The timing of the elbow injury was bad because he had put himself onto the map in 2006 and had been ticketed to work alongside Gio Gonzalez and Jack Egbert in the Birmingham rotation. Instead, he wound up watching them and Fautino de los Santos jump past him. Harrell wasn't standing still, however, working hard on both his rehabilitation and his overall conditioning. The White Sox credited his strong showing in instructional league to his work ethic. He has a low-90s fastball with life, getting a lot of groundballs on his sinker. He has developed a plus changeup and continues to work on a slider as his third pitch. He'll have to continue to hone his control. Harrell ended instructional league healthy and ready to handle a starter's workload in 2008, most likely in Double-A.
On the surface, Haeger appeared to take a major step backward in 2007. He was hit hard in too many of his eight big league outings and went 5-16 for Triple-A Charlotte. But it's far too early to write off a guy who might have the best knuckleball this side of Tim Wakefield. Haeger, who started throwing the knuckler full-time after a self-imposed one-year retirement in 2003, got out of whack with his mechanics during spring training. He didn't get them back under control until the second half of the season, when he finished strong. He had gotten long in his delivery but made a major adjustment, working almost exclusively out of the stretch in the second half. Haeger can mix in a mid-80s fastball and a decent curve, though he throws the knuckleball about 75 percent of the time. He did nothing to tarnish his reputation as a workhorse, topping 150 innings for the third straight season. Haeger is a good athlete who fields his position well. He clearly has fallen on Chicago's depth charts since the end of the 2006 season and could need a trade to get a long look as a big league starter.
A draft-and-follow from the 2005 draft, Marrero is the older brother of Nationals No. 1 prospect Chris Marrero. Christian's offensive ceiling isn't as high as his brother's but he shares the same understanding of the art of hitting, which showed when he repeated the Rookie-level Pioneer League. League managers praised his smooth stroke, the result of his work with White Sox coaches. The ball seemed to jump off his bat last season. Marrero is a disciplined hitter, seldom getting himself out on bad pitches. He has gap power and could develop into a true power hitter as he matures. He has few outstanding tools other than his bat, however. His arm is excellent but he doesn't run well enough or cover enough ground in the outfield. He played most of 2007 at first base, his likely home in the future. Club officials praise his love for the game. Marrero probably will open 2008 in low Class A and could earn a swift promotion if he continues to hit like he did last season.
A raw talent with lots of room for projection, Morales gave just a hint of his ability during his pro debut. He opted to attend Broward (Fla.) CC when he wasn't happy with what the Rangers offered after selecting him in the 28th round of the 2005 draft, and the White Sox took him in the 12th round a year later. It took $180,000 to sign him as a draft-and-follow. Morales hasn't been a great hitter for average since he was in high school, but Chicago loves his bat speed and believes he needs only time to develop into a guy who produces for both average and power. While he's strong, he's also a hacker, and he needs to improve his strike-zone discipline to reach the expectations for him. Morales has good speed and could develop into a major stolen-base threat. He played a quality center field in his debut and the Sox believe he has the athleticism and instincts to remain there. He should open 2008 in low Class A.
Before leaving a May 6 start with an unusual strain on the underside of his right shoulder, Cassel had made the White Sox look wise for taking him in the 2006 draft. His emergence was no surprise to anyone who knows his family history. Older brother Matt has been a longtime backup quarterback for the New England Patriots. Another brother, Jack, pitched in the big leagues for the Padres in September. Even his mother Barbara has won an Emmy for her work as a set decorator. Justin has had plenty of success himself, having gone 15-0 as a senior to help Chatsworth (Calif.) High finish the 2003 season as the national high school champion. He got off to a fast start in high Class A in 2007 before missing more than half a season while rehabilitating his shoulder. Cassel was healthy at the end of 2007, pitching so well in instructional league that he'll have a chance to open 2008 in the Double-A rotation. He has a smooth delivery but isn't overpowering. His fastball rarely gets out of the high 80s but has great natural sink, getting hitters to put it on the ground. Both his curveball and changeup grade as average to plus. Cassel works fast and comes at hitters. He'll have to improve his command as he moves up, but durability is the biggest question for him at this point.
Sometimes good things come in small packages. The White Sox believe that's true with Miranda, whose stature contributed to him sliding to the 13th round in the 2007 draft. Like Duke outfielder Jimmy Gallagher, Chicago's 2007 seventh-rounder, he came out of college as a polished performer lacking the tools that get scouts excited. But there's no doubt he knows how to play the game, as he won a college Gold Glove last spring and then more than held his own with the bat in low Class A after signing for $25,000. Miranda is a switch-hitter with impressive bat control and a good knowledge of the strike zone, which allowed him to walk more than he struck out in his debut. He had batted .376 as a three-year starter at Virginia Commonwealth, but scouts expected him to have trouble adjusting to a wood bat. He's a better hitter lefthanded than righthanded but will continue to work as a switch-hitter. Miranda has been groomed to play pro ball, attending the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy before college. His arm is average, but he had the range to set a school record for assists last year at VCU. Miranda will open 2008 with one of the Class A teams and could move quickly. He has replaced Robert Valido as the best bet to become the organization's first homegrown regular at shortstop since Bucky Dent was traded to the Yankees after the 1976 season.
Farm director Alan Regier made an interesting decision in the spring, essentially demoting a handful of prospects in hopes they would enjoy a level of success that had previously eluded them. It paid dividends with Hernandez, along with outfielder Sal Sanchez and first baseman Micah Schnurstein. The undersized Hernandez performed well in what was his fourth taste of low Class A, and followed up on that by getting off to a solid start in the Dominican Winter League. The 21-year-old switch-hitter opened as a reserve for Estrellas but hit his way into regular playing time. His above-average arm is still what gets Hernandez noticed--though he threw out a pedestrian 29 percent of basestealers in 2007--but he has made strides at the plate, drawing more walks than strikeouts for the first time in his career. He has the bat control to put the ball in play and offers some gap power, but his bat will be tested as he climbs the ladder. His pitch-calling and handling of a pitching staff need improvement if he's to play in the majors. Hernandez has the potential to be a regular in the big leagues, but only if he continues to improve in all phases of the game.
During a season-long bullpen breakdown in Chicago, many relievers were called but few stuck around. Wasserman might have been the least likely of those who did. An undrafted college player who was signed out of a tryout camp, he earned his way to the big leagues by succeeding at every level in the minors. He's a strike thrower who gets deception from a sidearm delivery, using his fearlessness to overcome a lack of velocity. Wasserman relies on a high-80s sinker and a curveball that ties up righthanders. He held righties to a .174 average in his 33 big league outings but had trouble getting lefties out. Still, he managed not to allow a homer all season, getting batters to beat the ball into the ground. Pitching coach Don Cooper will spend spring training trying to better equip Wasserman to face lefties. Regardless, he's good enough against righties to earn a spot in the White Sox bullpen.
Highly decorated as a high school and college player, Lucy got to the big leagues in his third full season out of Stanford. But he may never develop into more than a solid, defensive-oriented backup. Some in the organization compare him to Chris Stewart, a former minor league standout who has stalled on the threshold of the big leagues, but others argue that Lucy still could hit enough to have a long career in the big leagues. Despite his college success, Lucy had to overhaul his mechanics at the plate and behind it after the White Sox selected him in the second round in 2004. The results have started to show, as he hit .269 in the first half of last season in Double-A, though he seemed overmatched after advancing to Triple-A and then Chicago for a September callup. His strength is pitch-calling and handling a staff. He has an average arm but has quickened his release and threw out 34 percent of minor league basestalers in 2007. He runs well for a catcher, albeit below average overall. He needs more at-bats against advanced pitchers and should be a regular in Triple-A this season.
Perez started out as a hitter in the Padres organization, but he never made it out of the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League with them, even after moving to the mound in 2003. He was released, and the White Sox signed him in May 2004. Based purely on results, he has been one of the best pitchers in the system. He has gone 10-4, 1.45 with 25 saves between three levels the last two years, and was one of the top closers in the Dominican League in 2007-08. But the reality is that he's something of an afterthought for the White Sox. That's not because he's 24 and only now reaching Triple-A, or because he's like Antonio Alfonseca and was born with six fingers on each hand. It's because Perez can drive his managers a little loopy with his laid-back approach to conditioning and preparation, and because he always has been a flyball pitcher, which doesn't project well for U.S. Cellular Field. His approach on the mound is simple. He comes at hitters with a low-90s fastball and an average slider, thrown from a three-quarters arm slot. His key to success is getting ahead of hitters. His ratios have been excellent the last two seasons: 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 4.6 whiffs per walk. The only place he pitched badly was in big league camp before the 2007 season, where he got shelled. Perez could put himself in the picture for a bullpen spot this spring but has to erase the poor first impression.
On course to be a top draft pick after his sophomore season at Indiana State, Omogrosso wound up being sidelined by an elbow injury that would require Tommy John surgery in 2005. He has been climbing back ever since and looks like he may be ready to have a breakout season in 2008. A barrel-chested kid with a tough attitude, he projects as a late-inning reliever. Omogrosso's best pitch is a mid-90s fastball with good movement that he can throw from a low three-quarters or sidearm delivery. He flashed a plus slider as a college sophomore, but it hasn't had quite the same tilt or depth since his surgery. The White Sox put him in the rotation last year to get him some more work. Omogrosso handled the switch well, throwing one shutout and ending the year with three consecutive quality starts, but the real benefit was that he used his improved changeup with regularity. That could be a big pitch for him, as he has been far more effective against righthanders than lefties. He's a good athlete who lettered in football and basketball in high school. Omogrosso is ticketed for Double-A, either as a starter or a closer.
At 27 it's hard to see Day as a premium prospect, though he still has the look of a late bloomer who could establish himself in the big leagues. He got his first chance in 2007, getting summoned after destroying Double-A hitters, but he lost command of the plus slider he uses to set up his fastball. He hung around for 13 outings as manager Ozzie Guillen reached for straws in his disintegrating bullpen, but Day eventually needed time in Triple-A to get himself back on track. He finished strong there and then added a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League. In his work for four teams in 2007, the big righthander struck out 87 in 64 innings while allowing only one homer. That's the kind of performance that should guarantee him a second chance at some point in 2008. He's a classic two-pitch reliever, with a low-90s fastball and a slider that has textbook tilt and depth. It's a good pitch against lefties and righties alike when it's sharp. Day could open the season as a closer in Triple-A if he doesn't win a spot in the big league bullpen.
Allen drew Division I-A football interest as a linebacker but decided to turn pro in baseball out of high school for a $175,000 bonus as a fifth-round pick. With his size, strength and power potential, he would have gone higher in the draft had he not had a dismal senior season, striking out all too frequently and hitting just two homers. He has been more consistent as a pro and improved in his second try at low Class A in 2007, but he still strikes out too much. Offspeed stuff and pitches low in the strike zone can give him trouble. Allen has some surprising athleticism and speed for his size, but he has found the going rough at first base. The White Sox at one point considered trying him in the outfield, though those plans have been scrapped and he spent almost as much time at DH as in the field last year. After the trade of Chris Carter to the Diamondbacks, Allen now has more power than any hitter in the system, so Chicago will remain patient. He'll move up to high Class A in 2008.
After seemingly stalling as a hitter, Sanchez revived his stock with a strong showing following a demotion to Rookie ball in 2007. He flashed his big-time power and the full collection of five tools, leading the Pioneer League with 97 hits while uncorking showcase throws from right field. Then again, he was old for the league at 21 and took a step back after failing in low Class A in 2006. The book on Sanchez so far remains a story of untapped potential, and time is beginning to run out. He has range in right field but doesn't always take good routes to the ball. He has the speed to steal 30-plus bases but hasn't learned how to read pitchers and get a good jump. He has never had much plate discipline, though he did make a huge leap in on-base percentage last year. Sanchez was projected to develop into a Juan Gonzalez type physically when he signed out of the Dominican in 2004, but he has yet to fill out. He still has a high ceiling but needs to start moving faster toward the big leagues.
Only the most patient player-development sorts would still consider Valido a prospect, but his defense at shortstop is too strong to overlook, even if he hit himself back into high Class A after opening each of the last two seasons in Double-A. He appeared to have a breakout season with his bat in 2005, but hasn't looked like the same hitter since serving a suspension after a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance. The mention of his name sometimes brings an agonized look from general manager Ken Williams, who had counted on him to be ready to take over for Juan Uribe at shortstop in 2008, but Valido still has supporters in the organization. They point out that he already has the range, arm strength and experience to play shortstop in the big leagues, and that he has a strong work ethic and carries himself like a leader wherever he plays. That won't matter unless he makes major strides with the bat. He developed bad habits while dealing with a wrist injury in 2006 and may have aggravated his problems by experimenting with different stances at the plate. He has plus speed but doesn't get on base enough to use it, and his pop has disappeared since his suspension. Valido will be 22 when the 2008 season begins, and it's probably time to produce or be gone.
Estill immediately became one of the better athletes in the system when he signed last June for $82,000 as an eight-round pick. He was drawing interest from Pacific-10 Conference football recruiters as a quarterback/ safety before an injury in his senior season of high school. He instead spent two years playing baseball in junior college before turning pro. Estill is a potential five-tool player, with speed and power and the ability to play at least an average center field. But he's a project for the organization's hitting coaches, as he can look great in one plate appearance and awful in the next. He has a lot of extraneous movement at the plate and seems to pick up pitches late, leading to an overabundance of strikeouts. The walks he draws are largely from pitchers who work around him after seeing him drive the ball into the gaps or over the fence. He could be headed for an extended-spring assignment in 2008, but could get a crack at low Class A to start the year.