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Mitchell is a winner. He won two national championships in his career at Louisiana State, one as a backup wide receiver on the football team that beat Ohio State in the BCS title game in January 2008, and another as an outfielder on the baseball team that won the 2009 College World Series. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the latter event, hitting .348 with two homers among his five extra-base hits. Mitchell flashed first-round talent in 2006, when he batted .506 for Westgate High outside New Orleans and was the Louisiana high school player of the year. He fell to the Twins in the 10th round of the draft, however, because he wanted $1 million to give up football. Minnesota made him a significant offer but didn't reach seven figures, so he went to Louisiana State. He joined the baseball team after spring football practice in his first two years, and got permission from Tigers football coach Les Miles to focus on baseball last spring. The extra work on the diamond paid off, not just with a national title but also with Mitchell going 23rd overall in the 2009 draft. The White Sox signed him for $1.2 million and sent him straight to low Class A Kannapolis, where he had few problems transitioning to pro ball. Mitchell played football because his skills pushed him toward the field, but his real passion is baseball. He's a terrific athlete with plus-plus speed who projects as a center fielder and leadoff man. He has been clocked from the plate to third base in 10.3 seconds. He's a patient hitter who's willing to work counts, ranking fifth in NCAA Division I with 57 walks last year, yet he hit in the middle of Louisiana State's lineup because he also flashes power. He has the quickness to cover huge swaths of ground in center field. "He takes control in center field like he's been playing professionally for a while," Kannapolis manager Ernie Young said. Mitchell has impressive instincts, especially given that he hadn't focused solely on baseball before 2009. He loves the biggest stages. Mitchell still has work to do at the plate, both in his technique and approach. Sox coaches are working to smooth out some uppercut in his swing, and he strikes out more than he should because he takes hittable pitches while trying to work counts. He's also working on getting better reads and jumps as a basestealer, as he has the speed to swipe bags more frequently and more successfully than he does now. Mitchell played right field in college but doesn't have the arm strength to stay there as a professional, and his arm is his only below-average tool. The White Sox will develop him as a center fielder, but like Carl Crawford he could eventually move to left. He drifts on fly balls at times. Mitchell performed above expectations after signing, so Chicago could skip him to Double-A Birmingham to open his first full season. With Alex Rios and Jordan Danks ahead of him in the organization, Mitchell won't have to be rushed. He's exactly the kind of pure athlete that White Sox GM Ken Williams has exhorted his scouting staff to sign, though he'll require time to hone his skills after being distracted by football for so long.
The headliner in the deal that sent Javier Vazquez to Atlanta for four young players, Flowers has been everything the White Sox hoped. He hit as expected and while many scouts thought he'd have to move to first base, he held his own behind the plate in Double-A and Triple-A last year. Chicago rewarded him with a September callup. Flowers combines light-tower power with plate discipline, making it easy to project his bat into the middle of a big league lineup. He generates his pop through his strength and size, and he has good hand-eye coordination and advanced pitch recognition. Pitchers like throwing to him because he's a good communicator and works hard on gameplans. Managers rated him the top defensive catcher in the Double-A Southern League last year. He has an average arm and has improved his footwork and release, thowing out 29 percent of basestealers last year. Flowers' size can be a problem behind the plate, limiting his quickness in blocking and handling tough pitches. One scout said Flowers "spent more time at the backstop than Bob Uecker" early in 2009, but that he improved throughout the season. Though he's athletic for a catcher, he's still a below-average runner. Flowers is ready to hit in the major leagues, but the White Sox have A.J. Pierzynski in the final year of his contract. They want Flowers playing every day and continuing to polish his defense, so he'll open 2010 at Triple-A Charlotte.
After an up-and-down career at Old Dominion, Hudson went in the fifth round of the 2008 draft and signed for $180,000. In his first full season, he picked up wins at five different levels, including the big leagues. He ranked second in the minors in opponent average (.200), sixth in strikeouts (166 in 147 innings), seventh in wins (14) and ninth in ERA (2.32). Hudson throws three solid pitches from a three-quarters arm slot with a crossfire delivery, a la Jered Weaver. His motion gives him natural deception, making his lively 91-93 mph fastball seem even quicker. His second-best pitch is his changeup, which elicits swings and misses. He also has a low-80s slider with average tilt, and he occasionally throws a slow curve. He pounds the strike zone and commands his fastball to both sides of the plate. Hudson's delivery can be high maintenance, sometimes requiring adjustments early in games. His pitches tend to flatten out when his arm drops below his preferred slot. Advanced hitters were able to elevate his pitches, which won't play well at U.S. Cellular Field. His defense and pickoff move are raw. Hudson could open the 2010 season in the big leagues, but with Freddy Garcia signing to fill out the rotation, there's no rush. The White Sox have developed starters with an apprenticeship in the big league bullpen, but Hudson would be better served by more regular work in Double-A.
The White Sox rated Morel as a second-round talent in the 2008 draft, but they didn't have a pick in that round and were thrilled to get him in the third and sign him for $440,000. He's off to a good start as a pro, hitting .304/.361/.496 in the second half last year at high Class A Winston-Salem before winning the Arizona Fall League batting title with a .435 average. Morel is a manager's dream, with solid tools, outstanding instincts and a blue-collar work ethic. He's one of the system's top pure hitters, making good contact with a compact, line-drive swing. He has excellent pitch recognition and attacks fastballs. He has the power to hit 15 homers per year, and could show more as he matures. He runs well enough for a third baseman and is a good baserunner, but he doesn't project as a basestealer. He's a natural third baseman with first-step quickness and a plus arm. Morel's power is just borderline average for a third baseman. He can be overly aggressive at times, working himself into pitcher's counts. He would benefit from taking more pitches and drawing more walks, though he doesn't strike out a lot. Gordon Beckham's move to second base opens up third for the long term, and Morel could reach Chicago within the next two years. He'll open 2010 in Double-A.
John Danks turned down the White Sox's initial attempt to sign him to a multiyear contract last spring, but he may soon may have more motivation to stick around--the chance to play with his younger brother. Drafted by Chicago in the 19th round out of high school and then again in the seventh round out of Texas, Jordan signed for an aboveslot $525,000. He needed just 40 games as a pro to reach Double-A, where wrist and thumb ailments sabotaged his production. Danks is an excellent athlete and a hard-nosed player. He's a natural hitter with good bat speed, gap power, surprising bunting ability and above-average speed. He has the range and instincts to play center field, and he also has a solid-average arm. His swing is sound, but Danks is prone to slumps when he gets pull-happy or faces a steady diet of breaking balls. He can struggle with pitch recognition at times, and he never has hit for the power projected for him coming out of high school. The White Sox filled their immediate need for a center fielder with Alex Rios. But he and Danks could play right field, so it's easy to project them playing side by side, perhaps even in the second half of 2010. After leading the Arizona Fall League with 31 runs and ranking fifth with a .458 on-base percentage, Danks figures to start the season in Double-A but shouldn't stay there long.
The White Sox haven't taken a lot of high-risk, high-reward picks in recent drafts, but Thompson is that kind of player. The son of Mychal Thompson, the No. 1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft, he turned down a scholarship at UCLA to sign for $625,000 as a second-round pick last summer. Thompson has everything scouts look for--athleticism, bat speed, power, speed and arm strength. He's unusually coordinated for his size. He can catch up to good fastballs and drive bad breaking pitches a long way. He has range to play center field and the arm to fit in right. He showed intensity and a competitive nature during his introduction to pro ball. Thompson has a lot of work to do as a hitter. He has a long swing and struggles against curveballs, often chasing pitches outside of the zone. He doesn't trust his bat speed, committing himself too soon. Chicago expects him to develop power but doesn't want him to force the issue at this stage in his development. He needs work at getting better jumps, both in the outfield and on the bases. Thompson could start his first full pro season in low Class A, but the White Sox may prefer to let him have some time in extended spring training before heading to Rookie-level Great Falls. He may wind up on an outfield corner but will remain in center field for the foreseeable future.
A Cuban defector who signed a four-year, $10 million major league contract in December 2008, Viciedo looked overmatched at times in his pro debut. The White Sox were generally pleased with his performance in Double-A, but some club officials felt he would have been better off at Winston-Salem. Elbow inflammation forced him to leave the Arizona Fall League after four games. Viciedo can drive the ball to all fields and possesses tremendous opposite-field power. He can put on a show in batting practice and punish fat pitches. He has soft hands and an average arm at third base. He took a serious approach to his conditioning, a major issue when he signed. He did a nice job of making adjustments on and off the field in his first season in the United States. Viciedo sits on fastballs to the point where he often looks helpless against offspeed pitches, doesn't consistently center hittable pitches and chases out of the strike zone too often. He doesn't look natural at third base, where he lacks range and has trouble on balls to his right and rollers in front of him. He's easily a below-average runner. He'll have to stay on top of his weight. Kendry Morales needed part of four seasons in the Angels system to make the climb from Cuba to the major leagues, and Viciedo is younger than Morales was. The White Sox hope he can stick at third, but he could be a candidate to replace first baseman Paul Konerko, whose contract expires after 2010.
Holmberg led the Florida high school ranks in strikeouts as a junior, creating some first-round talk, but a soft body and a fastball that only occasionally hit 90 mph caused him to slip to the second round last June. He had committed to Florida but signed with the White Sox for $514,000 as the fourth of their four picks before the third round. Other young pitchers may have better velocity or nastier breaking pitches, but few are as skilled at pitching. Holmberg has great secondary stuff and an advanced feel for changing speeds and locating pitches. Using a classic overhand delivery, he throws a 12-to-6 curveball with plus break and depth, and his changeup is nearly as good. The quality of his secondary pitches allows him to get swings and misses with a fastball that sits at 86-88 mph. It has late movement, making it tough to square up. He's intelligent and an excellent learner. Scouts have described Holmberg's body as pear-shaped and raised questions about his conditioning, but his legs and core appear strong, like a young David Wells. Radar guns don't love him, but some club officials believe he could gain velocity as his body matures. He moves slowly off the mound and projects as a below-average fielder. Holmberg has some projection but looks like a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse at best. Because he's so young, Chicago will limit his innings in low Class A this season.
Animated on the mound and armed with a fastball/slider combination that can be eyepopping, Santeliz is hard to miss. He served as a set-up man for Fernando Hernandez at the start of the season in Birmingham, then converted 10 of 11 save opportunities in the final month. He pitched well in the Venezuelan League during the winter. Santeliz models himself after fellow Venezuelan Francisco Rodriguez, daring hitters to dig in against him. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can climb to 95-96 mph. When he's on, he shows a plus slider with good depth and has the ability to locate his two pitches in the strike zone. The challenge for the White Sox is to help Santeliz stay under control without losing his flair. He still has trouble throwing strikes at times, and his slider lacks consistency. He never developed much of a changeup or much trust in the pitch. He hasn't had any serious injuries, but he has had trouble handling a full workload as a starter or reliever. The Sox would like to use Santeliz as a starter, but he believes he's a closer. Better suited to be a setup man unless he significantly improves his command, he'll open 2010 in Triple-A and could make his major league debut later in the year.
There were no headlines when the White Sox signed Gonzalez, but he has grabbed attention with his play and approach ever since. He hit .302/.372/.481 in his U.S. debut last season, which included an emergency three-game stint in Triple-A in the final week. Gonzalez is a true two-way catcher, strong at the plate and behind it. He has the bat speed to hit a good fastball, prompting teams to pitch backward against him. He's a line-drive hitter who should add power as his thin upper body fills out to match his thick legs. He threw out 35 percent of basestealers last season with his plus arm, and he's a sound receiver with an an advanced feel for running games. Gonzalez already has a thick lower half, and he'll have to maintain his conditioning to retain the agility to play behind the plate. He's working to quicken his release on throws. He only has 305 pro at-bats and much more advanced pitching awaits at higher levels. Gonzalez is on the fast track. He'll open 2010 in low Class A as a 19-year-old and could appear on the big league radar in the second half of 2011. Two large obstacles loom ahead in Tyler Flowers and 2009 sandwich pick Josh Phegley.
Like Tyler Flowers, Phegley is an offensive-minded catcher who faces questions about his long-term future behind the plate. The White Sox thought enough of his potential as a hitter to take him with the 2009 sandwich pick they received for losing Orlando Cabrera to Oakland, and signed him for $858,600. While some organizations projected Phegley as a player who would need a position change, club officials say his arm gives him the chance to be at least an average catcher. He has repaid them for their faith so far, using his plus arm to throw out 58 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. He also had 11 passed balls in 47 games, however, showing the lack of receiving skills that caused other teams to pass on him. Some scouts also are bothered by his slow release. His thick body robs him of quickness behind the plate, and he had trouble handling premium 2009 draft picks Eric Arnett (first round, Brewers) and Matt Bashore (sandwich round, Twins) at Indiana. Phegley generates gap power has a good understanding of the strike zone. He hits from a crouch, making him tougher on pitches down in the strike zone than up. There are some questions about his bat speed and how well he'll handle quality fastballs. Ticketed for high Class A in his first full pro season, Phegley won't have to be rushed because Flowers is the heir apparent to A.J. Pierzynski.
Few minor league pitchers had a better 2009 than Ely. He led the Southern League in wins (14) and strikeouts (125 in 156 innings), and no minor leaguer who worked at least 150 innings could match his ERA (2.82) or winning percentage (.875). He doesn't have the kind of pure stuff that excites scouts, but he has outstanding makeup and a history of winning. Going back to his days as a high school star in suburban Chicago, he has posted an 83-27 record. His preparation, intensity and poise are major assets, almost as important as his plus changeup. Ely's lack of a consistent 90 mph fastball makes scouts doubt if he can succeed against elite hitters, but his mid- 70s changeup is an equalizer. He also knows how to add and subtract with his fastball, which sits at 87-89 mph. His command usually improves as the season goes on, and he had a 1.68 ERA in the second half of 2009. Ely's curveball remains a work in progress, in part because he has so much success with his fastball and changeup that he's reluctant to use a third pitch. He added a cut fastball last season, giving him another option when teams stack lefthanders against him. They hit .271 off him last season, compared to .217 by righthanders. Ely is durable and never has missed a start in college or pro ball. He'll try to prove himself yet again in Triple-A this season.
Sometimes it takes awhile to find your true calling. After the White Sox signed him as a minor league infielder a year ago, Santos heads to spring training in 2010 with an outside chance to earn a spot in their big league bullpen. A first-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2002, he never hit well enough to reach the big leagues but always had a cannon for an arm. Arizona traded him and Troy Glaus to get Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista from the Blue Jays in December 2005, and the Twins claimed him off waivers in May 2008. Chicago approached Santos with the idea of pitching last spring, but he wasn't ready. The Sox traded him to the Giants at the end of spring training, but when San Francisco were about to release him, he returned with an open mind and tackled pitching at extended spring training. He reported to Kannapolis on May 31 and has moved quicker than even the Sox imagined--because he can pitch in the high 90s. He earned an assignment to the Arizona Fall League, where he worked out of the bullpen, and both his peak fastball velocity (99 mph) and average velocity (96 mph) were second only to Stephen Strasburg in the prospect-heavy circuit. Santos throws a slider and changeup, both of which need improvement, but he has a good feel for pitching given his inexperience. The White Sox added him to the 40-man roster after the season because they were sure another team would take him in the major league Rule 5 draft if they didn't protect him. He'll probably open 2010 in the Charlotte bullpen but could move up quickly.
For a 31st-round draft pick, Gartrell already has proved himself a success just by getting added to the 40-man roster last fall. His consistent production and ability to hit for power could take him beyond the fringes of the big leagues. He has seemed like a reasonable facsimile of Jermaine Dye during his four minor league seasons and heads to his first big league camp as the White Sox are looking to replace the middle-of-the-order presence previously provided by Dye and Jim Thome. Gartrell is a solid athlete with good size and strength. He helped Birmingham establish itself as the best team in the Southern League before finishing 2010 at Triple-A, where his production dipped. He has a solid stroke that delivers power to all fields, and he drives balls to right-center when he's locked in. His plate discipline comes and goes, and he gets overly aggressive at times. He led the Rookie-level Appalachian League with 46 walks in 2006, but he has had trouble with pitch recognition and has yet to match that total since. Gartrell has enough arm to play right field, but a lack of first-step quickness limits his range. He's an average baserunner and shouldn't become a baseclogger anytime soon. His immediate future will depend on whom the Sox acquire in the offseason, but he'll get a major league opportunity if he keeps hitting.
Earning every at-bat he ever has gotten gotten, Retherford has climbed to the point where he's ready to prove he can play in the major leagues. He went undrafted for five straight years from 2003-07, despite being eligible each June out of high school, South Mountain (Ariz.) CC or Arizona State. A former walk-on with the Sun Devils, he has hit throughout his pro career and tied for the minor league lead with 46 doubles last season. Retherford helped Birmingham win 92 games in 2009 and then contributed to a championship team in the Arizona Fall League, hitting a game-winning homer in the title game. He has a .301 career minor league average, thanks to outstanding hand-eye coordination and bat control. He could hit 15 or more homers per year if he plays regularly. He has fringe-average speed and is a good baserunner. A third baseman in his first two seasons in the system, Retherford moved to second base last year. Birmingham hitting coach Andy Tomberlin said Retherford can be a Dustin Pedroia-like player, though others still project him as more of a utilityman. His range and arm are no better than average, but he positions himself well and makes all the routine plays. He improved on the pivot throughout last year. The move of Gordon Beckham from third base to second wasn't good for his upward mobility, but Retherford usually finds ways to create opportunities for himself.
You can find plenty of pitchers with better pure stuff than Torres, but he has made a career of outpitching them. He developed mental toughness while pitching for four colleges--Allan Hancock (Calif.) JC, Grossmont (Calif.) JC, San Jose State and Kansas State--and showed it by throwing seven scoreless innings in a start at Wrigley Field last September. He earned that opportunity by leading the Triple-A International League in ERA (2.39), opponent average (.207) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.1). Torres succeeds with a heavy 90-92 mph fastball and a plus cutter that frustrates lefthanders. He also throws a curveball and changeup. His fearlessness and durability make him an organizational favorite, and he'll compete for a job on the big league staff this spring. Torres profiles as a long reliever/sixth starter and could be helped by his ability to warm up quickly. His fate could hinge on whether the more hyped Daniel Hudson sticks in Chicago or continues his education in the minors.
Harrell never has lacked for competitiveness. Now that his shoulder is sound again, he has the collection of pitches to back up his confidence. He missed all of 2007 following shoulder surgery, and also spent time on the disabled list in 2006 and 2008 with shoulder issues. Harrell flashed his potential for Team USA in the World Cup at the end of last season, throwing 10 scoreless innings in the tournament, including four against Cuba. He would have preferred to be in Chicago, but Daniel Hudson and Carlos Torres were summoned to the big leagues ahead of him. Harrell comes at hitters with two different fastballs: a low-90s sinker that gets a ton of groundouts and a 93-94 mph four-seamer that misses bats. Harrell also has a plus changeup, but his slider has a tendency to flatten out and lacks depth. Harrell has worked primarily as a starter as a pro, but his World Cup experience suggests he can function well as a multiple-inning reliever. He's likely to start 2010 back in Triple-A but will get a chance to make the big league club in spring training. There figures to be at least one spot open for a rookie, and Harrell will compete with Hudson, Torres, Sergio Santos, Clevelan Santeliz and Jon Link.
At 22, Rodriguez is old for a Latin American prospect who hasn't established himself in full-season ball, but his velocity is eye-popping. Along with catcher Tyler Flowers and infielders Brent Lillibridge and Jon Gilmore, the White Sox acquired him from the Braves in the Javier Vazquez trade after the 2008 season. Chicago hoped to start Rodriguez at Kannapolis last season, but he wasn't deemed ready to face low Class A hitters until September. He's a hard thrower with an impressive frame, and only now is he starting to put polish on his skills. At times last year, his fastball sat at 95 mph and spiked to 97, thanks to what one scout called "just ridiculous arm strength.'' Hitters hate facing him, and he hasn't given up a home run since 2007. Rodriguez slowly is learning to use three pitches, making major strides with his changeup last season and sharpening a slider that looks more like a slurve most of the time. His delivery is raw and inconsistent, and he also needs work on his fielding. The White Sox view Rodriguez as a reliever, and he could move fast if he gets his delivery locked in. At the very least he's a commodity that general Ken Williams can deal, as his fastball is the kind that intrigues almost any organization.
If you didn't have to hit to get noticed on defense, Escobar would project as a future Gold Glove shortstop. But it's unclear if he has enough bat to get to the big leagues. He was overmatched at the plate in 2009, as low Class A pitchers consistently challenged him and he didn't make them pay. A switch-hitter, Escobar doesn't make enough solid contact to put his plus speed to use. He's defensive at the plate, rarely looking to drive the ball despite having deceptive strength, but still struck out three times as much as he walked last season. He did a better job of reading pitchers last year and has improved his basestealing. He's fun to watch in the field, and Kannapolis' middle-infield combo of Escobar and Andrew Garcia was a major reason why the Intimidators went 82-57 and held opponents to 3.8 runs per game. Escobar has Omar Vizquel-like range, sure hands and a strong arm. He played in the Venezuelan League over the winter and will move up to high Class A this season.
On one hand, it seems like the White Sox have been waiting forever for Griffith to pitch significant innings. On the other, he'll still only be 21 this season. One of the top high school pitchers in Florida in the 2007 draft, Griffith blew out his elbow a year after signing as a second-round pick and had Tommy John surgery. He has pitched just 98 innings in his first three pro seasons, but took a huge step forward by finishing 2009 as a full-time member of the Kannapolis rotation. He followed up with a strong showing in instructional league. Griffith has added strength to his frame and shortened a delivery that produces easy heat. He has a 92-95 mph fastball and a curveball that's a plus pitch at times but flattens out at others. His changeup is a work in progress. Improving his secondary pitches is Griffith's major challenge, as low Class A lefthanders hit .370 against him and he doesn't miss as many bats as he should. He'll move up to Winston-Salem in 2010 as Chicago waits for him to begin his long-awaited rise through the system.
When Marrero arrived at Birmingham last June, he hit at the bottom of the order, but he migrated up to the No. 3 spot by the time the playoffs rolled around. He ended the season hitting .308/.348/.501 between Winston- Salem and Birmingham. The brother of former Nationals first-round pick Chris Marrero, Christian isn't a toolsy guy with a huge ceiling, but he has hit well to get close to big league consideration. Marrero generates excellent bat speed despite having an uppercut swing. He catches up to all but the very best fastballs and stays back on breaking pitches. He uses the entire field and holds his own against lefties. Marrero has solid knowledge of the strike zone but doesn't walk often. He has split time between the outfield and first base as a pro and is considered only adequate in both places. He played right field in Double-A, picking up eight outfield assists with his strong arm, but could wind up moving to left field as he advances. His range and speed are fringy. The ability to play first base and the outfield should eventually make it easier for Marrero to make a big league roster, and his passion for baseball could keep him there for years as a role player.
While Jeff Marquez was the more prominent prospect in the deal that sent Nick Swisher to the Yankees after the 2008 season, Nunez has a much better chance to have a lasting impact in Chicago. He didn't show it last September, when he got his first chance with the White Sox, but scouts say he has the stuff to establish himself as a big league reliever. He worked exclusively in relief for the first time in 2009 and put up a 2.55 ERA in 42 appearances in the minors. Originally signed by the Dodgers and traded three times since 2006, Nunez has a two-seam fastball that parks in the low 90s and a four-seamer than spikes as high as 97. His plus slider is his best pitch. He can back-door it to lefthanders or wrap it around their back foot when they're expecting him to work outside. He didn't have a feel for a third pitch when the White Sox acquired him but improved his changeup working with Birmingham pitching coach J.R. Perdew. Nunez is unlikely to pitch his way onto the big league staff out of spring training, but he could get there as a midseason replacement. The key will be the sharpness of his slider and his ability to get outs against lefties.
Joe Borowski nailed down 131 saves in parts of 12 major league seasons without ever making a scout snap to attention. He simply attacked the strike zone with an ordinary fastball and forced hitters to beat him. Remenowsky, who went undrafted after a four-year career at NCAA Division III Otterbein (Ohio), is the same kind of pitcher. The White Sox signed him after a brief stop with Windy City in the independent Frontier League, then sat back and watched him put up unbelievable numbers in 2009. His 15.5 strikeouts per nine innings led all minor league relievers. Remenowsky's delivery includes an unusually high leg kick, a la Paul Byrd. It allows him to get strikeouts with an 88-90 mph fastball, giving him an unusual amount of deception and late movement. He uses a splitter to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball. His changeup is in the low 80s, like his splitter, and he's working to get more separation between the pitches. He also has a spike curveball in his arsenal, though he doesn't use it working out of the bullpen. He isn't afraid to work inside. Remenowsky's delivery makes him an easy target for basestealers, so he's working to shorten it with men on base. At times last year, he threw exclusively out of the stretch. Chicago isn't afraid of moving effective pitchers quickly, so don't be surprised if he darts through the high minors in 2010.
Talk about locked in. Bellamy has posted a 1.56 ERA in 103 appearances over the last two seasons between Miami, two minor league stops and the Arizona Fall League. He has worked as a set-up man and a closer during that span and could have a future in either role. A fifth-round pick who signed for $147,500 last June, he's poised to move fast through the system. A sidearmer, he has a high-80s sinker that is especially tough on righthanders. His Frisbee slider acts only as a deterrent to keep batters from sitting on his sinker. It breaks early, making it ineffective against lefthanders, which is why some scouts see Bellamy as more of a situational reliever. His fastball tends to lose velocity when he works on back-to-back days, which doesn't help his cause for a larger role. White Sox coaches praise Bellamy's confidence, but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to adversity because he hasn't encountered much of it since his freshman season at Miami. He could jump as high as Double-A to start his first full pro season, and a solid first half there could get him big league consideration by the end of 2010. He'd be best served by focusing on his slider, because that's the pitch that will determine if he has a future as a closer.
As scouts debate whether he can be an everyday major leaguer, the son of former big leaguer John Shelby continues his steady rise toward the big leagues. Speed and versatility are his biggest assets, but his struggles against righthanders raise questions about whether he can ever be more than an extra outfielder. His hitting slipped when he moved to Double-A in 2009, though he did slowly dig himself out from a poor start. Shelby had been a bit of a free swinger in previous seasons but showed improved plate discipline in 2009. Deeper counts and better pitching contributed to a drop in his average, and he'll have to make more adjustments this season. He does have good pop, and he used his plus speed and instincts to steal 30 bases in 39 tries. A second baseman in college and in his first two years as a pro, Shelby played well in his second full season an outfielder. He got to more balls in center than he had in 2008, and continued to see action in left field. His fringe-average arm invites runners to challenge him, but he had 13 outfield assists, showing good accuracy. Shelby should advance to Triple-A in 2009.
Depending on whom you talk to, Jones is either the most exciting arm in the system or a complete longshot. He has moved slowly through the system and was used carefully between two Class A leagues last season, but when his mechanics and approach are right, he can be lights out. Jones is a long, lanky righthander who's all about power. His fastball can sit in the high 90s, spiking as high as 99 mph, and his curveball can be the same kind of hammer that helped Bobby Jenks have immediate success when he reached the big leagues. Jones' curveball is inconsistent, though, lacking depth at times and prompting some thought that he should turn it into a slider. He showed improved control last season and has made adjustments in his delivery, shortening it somewhat. He also worked mostly out of the stretch in 2009. While most see Jones as a possible late-inning reliever, it's unclear if he'll be able to handle the strain of getting ready quickly and pitching often. The White Sox may send him back to Winston- Salem and use him as a starter in 2010 to develop more consistency, especially with his curveball.
Led by Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel, Dan Hudson and Jordan Danks, the White Sox's 2008 draft is looking like a good one. It will be even better if Leesman can continue to make strides like he did last season, when he led the South Atlantic League with 13 wins. Leesman attended Xavier after the Twins selected him in the 40th round out of high school, and he showed more stuff than results in college. The White Sox drafted him in the 11th round mainly because he touched 93 mph with his fastball at Xavier's scout day. Leesman is only now really learning how to pitch. The Sox credit his strong showing in 2009 to improved command of his fastball, which sits in the low 90s and has exaggerated sink, producing a lot of grounders. That pitch alone makes him tough on lefthanders. Both his breaking ball and changeup are below-average offerings at this point, though his work in instructional league hinted that they may be coming around. With Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard traded in the Jake Peavy deal, Leesman is the organization's most advanced lefthanded starter prospect. He's still raw in many ways, however, and shouldn't be rushed. He could open 2010 in Double-A if he has a strong spring training.
After leading the minor leagues with 35 saves in 2008, Link was positioned to reach the big leagues last season. Instead he took a step back, mostly because it took until July for him to throw his slider with the depth and command that he showed previously. While it wasn't as consistent, the slider remains one of the best in the organization, but Link seemed to lose confidence in it too quickly and went to his low-90s fastball too often. He can be hard on himself when he isn't having success. Though he struggled at times against Triple-A hitters, he still finished with more than a strikeout per inning. His command improved later in the season, after his big league window had closed, but he took advantage of a chance to work as a closer in the Venezuelan League, going 2-0, 2.95 with seven saves in 21 innings of work. Acquired in a 2007 trade that sent Rob Mackowiak to the Padres, Link remained on the the 40-man roster and will get a look for a bullpen job in spring training
A well-built package of potential, Martinez hopes to reacquaint himself with the diamond this season. He has played just 104 games over the last three seasons, missing all of last season and most of 2008 due to problems with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. He injured the knee early in 2008 and required microfracture surgery to repair the damage, resulting in an extended recovery. The son of the late Carlos Martinez, a former corner infielder for the White Sox, Jose was a productive hitter as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League in 2006 and has shown the ability to be a run-producer everywhere he has played. He generates impressive bat speed from a swing that can get long at times, and he uses his size and strength to put on shows in batting practice. He had good speed before his surgeries but no longer projects to be a basestealer. He has good range in the outfield and enough arm for right field, which has been his primary position. The White Sox aren't giving up on him, in part because they appreciate his work ethic, and he'll probably return to Kannapolis to get his career going again.
A good scout sometimes has to ignore what happens after the ball leaves a pitcher's hand. The White Sox did just that in regard to Collop last spring, and they may have made a solid investment by signing him for $122,500 in the sixth round. His junior season at Toledo was the poorest of his career, with the results becoming worse as the draft approached, but Chicago believed in the stuff it had seen earlier. Collop got his pro career off to a great start in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League, showing a clean delivery and a low-90s fastball with good life and movement. The fastball hit 94 mph at times and had boring sink, the result of his quick arm. His heater sets up his other pitches, the best of which is a splitter that misses bats. His slider is inconsistent, as is his changeup, but the naturally quick action in his delivery gives him the potential to turn both into solid offerings. He brings an athletic presence to the mound, in part the result of playing basketball in high school. It's no surprise that he's proving to be a quick learner, because he initially went to Toledo on an academic scholarship, not an athletic scholarship. Collop will open his first full season in low Class A but might force a quick promotion.