Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
The Cubs signed two of the best prospects in the 2013 international class in Jimenez and shortstop Gleyber Torres. Four years later, both have been traded away. The Cubs dealt Torres to the Yankees at the 2016 trade deadline in a package for closer Aroldis Chapman. Jimenez, who signed for $2.8 million, was sent to the White Sox in 2017 as the grand prize in a four-player package for lefthander Jose Quintana. Jimenez showed standout tools at every stop with the Cubs, played in two consecutive Futures Games and went viral on Twitter last season with a home run in the Carolina League all-star game home run derby that blasted a light tower in left field, a la Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.” As far as games that counted, Jimenez missed time with shoulder and hamstring injuries at high Class A Beach but returned to star form after the mid-July trade to the White Sox. Scouts who saw Jimenez last season used words like “manchild,” “mutant” and “Superman.” More specifically, Jimenez is an intimidating, strong-bodied prospect with a whip-quick bat capable of massive home runs. More than his raw power, which is borderline top of the scale, Jimenez is a diligent, dedicated worker. One manager recalled seeing Jimenez strike out multiple times during a game, then seeing him on the field early the next day for tracking drills. Rival managers lamented not being able to find many holes in his swing, even when they'd pitch him backward. And here's the scary part: He might not be done developing physically. Jimenez played all season at 20 years old, and still has room to sculpt his body and add more strength, possibly becoming a perennial 40-home run threat. Defensively, he's spent his career flopping back and forth between right and left field, with left his likely eventually home because of his below-average arm. He's also a tick below-average runner. Defense and speed were never expected to be selling points of his game, however. Jimenez is a hitter, period, with mix of power and the ability to get to it to change a game. Jimenez will likely begin 2018 back at Double-A Birmingham. With a rare mix of above-average hitting ability, massive power potential and the work ethic to make it all click, Jimenez projects as foundational hitter in the middle of the White Sox's order for years to come.
Kopech has long reigned as one of the hardest-throwing starters in the minors, and the White Sox acquired him as part of the trade for Chris Sale at the 2016 Winter Meetings. Kopech had a couple of extracurricular incidents mar his development--a 50-game suspension for amphetamines and a broken hand sustained in a fight with a teammate--but he's still become an elite prospect and finished a dominant 2017 at Triple-A Charlotte. Kopech's calling card is his top-of-the-scale fastball, which sits in the upper-90s and regularly touches 100 mph with armside run and downhill plane. It's an elite pitch, but he will overthrow it at times. The White Sox asked Kopech to add a two-seam fastball to induce more grounders and help teach him not to overthrow. Kopech boasts a slider that projects as a future plus pitch, as well as an average, low-90s changeup the White Sox encouraged him to throw more. Kopech still needs to iron out some inconsistencies in his delivery--particularly a tendency to fall off the rubber--in order to improve his below-average command and control. Kopech is likely to begin 2018 back at Triple-A, with a good shot of making his major league debut during the year. If he can tame his arsenal a bit more, he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Considered a candidate to go first overall in the 2016 draft, Hansen had a disastrous junior season at Oklahoma and got bumped from the starting rotation as well as the first round. The White Sox snatched him up in the second round and signed him for $1.2 million. They started Hansen in Rookie-ball after signing to regain his confidence against less experienced hitters, and he came out in 2017 and finished second in the minors with 191 strikeouts, finishing in Double-A. Hansen starts his arsenal with a hard mid-90s fastball that peaks at 98 mph. He gets downward plane on the pitch, and the White Sox made mechanical tweaks--namely keeping his shoulders even throughout his delivery--to help keep his fastball life consistent. Hansen couples the pitch with a hard curveball that flashes plus potential. He's improved his changeup from a show-me pitch at Oklahoma to one with heavy sink and average potential. He's also working to develop a slider. Hansen's imposing size at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds gives him an intimidation factor on the mound, but also contributes to inconsistent command and control. Hansen will return to Double-A to begin 2018. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter if everything clicks.
Robert built an impressive track record in Cuba, including posting an .895 OPS as a 15-year-old against older competition in the island's national 18U league. Robert had heaps of international success as well and signed with the White Sox for $26 million in May, a franchise record for an international signee. Robert began in the Dominican Summer League and impressed despite missing time with a few nagging injuries. The White Sox's top prospect, Eloy Jimenez, is farther along, but Robert's tools are just as impressive. He boasts a strong, lean frame at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. His swing is compact and simple, and he produces well above-average bat speed. He's got plus raw power and slugged three homers in limited time in the DSL. He does swing and miss on elevated fastballs, but it's not a huge ding on his record. Robert was rated as a 55-60-grade runner as an amateur, but he has gotten faster as he matured and now earns plus-plus grades for his speed. Defensively the White Sox believe Robert will be able to maintain enough speed and range to stay in center field long-term. If that doesn't work out, his bat will more than play in a corner. After spending the summer in the DSL mainly for tax purposes, Robert is likely to join a crowded outfield in high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018.
The Florida Gators produce pro-ready pitchers at a prodigious rate. Dunning is yet another example of the team's pitching proclivity. He was used as a valuable reliever by the Gators, but was long targeted by pro scouts as a quality starting pitching prospect--he made more starts in 2017 in pro ball than he made in three seasons at Florida. The White Sox targeted Dunning in the 2016 draft, but the Nationals took him at the end of the first round before they had a chance to grab him. Six months later, the White Sox acquired Dunning along with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito for Adam Eaton from the Nationals. Dunning cruised through the Class A levels in his first full season, posting a combined 2.94 ERA. Dunning operates primarily with a sinker and a slider, and has a changeup as well. He sits in the low-to-mid-90s, peaking at 96 mph. When his delivery is clicking, Dunning features heavy sink and will coax hitters into beating the ball into the ground. He struggled at times to get out over his front side, which had a flattening effect on his stuff and resulted in an elevated--and out of character--home run rate at high Class A Winston-Salem. Dunning's slider and changeup, both thrown in the low-to-mid-80s, have above-average or plus potential. To maintain consistency and crispness on his pitches, the White Sox have stressed to Dunning the need to stay tall through his delivery. Dunning will likely join Alec Hansen atop a very talented rotation at Double-A Birmingham in 2018. With three quality pitches and a clean, repeatable delivery, he has a mid-rotation ceiling moving forward.
Collins earned a reputation as one of the best offensive catchers in the country at Miami and was drafted ninth overall by the White Sox in 2016. He signed for $3,380,600 and moved quickly in his first full season, reporting straight to high Class A Winston-Salem and finishing the year at Double-A Birmingham, posting a combined .816 OPS. Collins is divisive, but everybody sees his nearly unmatched batting eye and pole-to-pole power. It's an excellent starting point, but not everyone is convinced he'll hit for average, especially after he hit .224 in his debut year. Collins has a bat tip at the beginning of his swing, which diminishes his ability to get to hard fastballs. He re-tooled his swing in the instructional league, making it quieter to get in a better position to hit. Collins worked diligently on his defense throughout the season and needs to continue. He struggles with velocity and presents pitches poorly, turning strikes into balls. He's improved with blocking but has work to do with his agility. Collins' arm ranges from average to plus on throws to second, and improved footwork would make his arm play up. Collins will return to Double-A to start 2018 and continue working to improve his contact skills and defense. If it all comes together, he could be an offensive-minded everyday catcher.
Burger raked for three years at Missouri State and emerged as the top power prospect in the 2017 draft. He swatted 47 home runs his sophomore and junior seasons and while never batting below .328, earned a spot on the US Collegiate National Team and was First Team All-America as a junior. The White Sox jumped on Burger with the 11th overall pick and signed him for $3.7 million. Burger's power is prodigious, and his leadership-oriented makeup is legendary, but scouts have concerns about his body. At 6-foot-2 and a thick, bottom-heavy 210 pounds, Burger stayed in Arizona over the winter to have access to the White Sox's complex and work on his conditioning. Scouts see a solid-average hitter with above-average power potential, and the plate discipline to get to it in games as a pro. Burger's body opens the door for questions about his defense, but he's worked hard to improve his footwork and range to stay at third base. He has more than enough arm strength to stay at the position and the power to profile there long-term. He's a well below-average runner. Burger will head to high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018, where he'll get to show off his power in the hitter-friendly confines of BB&T Ballpark.
The Yankees were ecstatic Rutherford fell to them at No. 18 in the 2016 draft and signed him for $3.282 million. But after a middling start to his first full professional season at low Class A Charleston, the Yankees traded Rutherford in mid-July to the White Sox as the headliner of a four-player package for relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and third baseman Todd Frazier. Rutherford's sweet lefthanded swing, disciplined approach and the sound the ball makes off his bat makes scouts believe he'll be an above-average hitter in the future, but questions about his power potential have yet to be answered, especially after he hit just two homers in his full-season debut. Rutherford is likely to move off of center field, so the emergence of power will be key to his profile as a big leaguer. Evaluators with both of his employers saw average power potential so long as he works to add muscle, which was one of his goals this season. Because of his below-average footspeed and arm, Rutherford is likely to settle into left field. Rutherford is likely to be part of a crowded outfield picture in high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018. He'll rotate between center and left field, and whether his power starts to play in games will be a key storyline.
The son of former Orioles slugger Larry Sheets, Gavin Sheets hit 11 home runs combined during his first two seasons at Wake Forest but erupted for 21 homers as a junior in 2017. His power burst carried the Demon Deacons to the Super Regionals, and the White Sox grabbed him with their second-round pick, No. 49 overall, and signed him for $2 million. After a long college season Sheets was a bit fatigued when he made his pro debut, mostly with low Class A Kannapolis, but still showed impressive hitting ability. Sheets has a leveraged swing with plus raw power, but evaluators note he will have to be more selective with pitches in the zone as a pro to find ways to do damage. He rarely chases out of the zone and posts promising strikeout-to-walk marks for a power hitter. Defensively, Sheets moves well for a big man and is a solid defender at first base with average range and an average throwing arm. Some scouts see Sheets as a hitter in the mold of a Lucas Duda at the highest level. He will move to high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018 and try to continue slugging in one of the better hitters' parks in the country.
Cease had Tommy John surgery as a senior in high school, but the Cubs saw enough in his younger years to draft him in the sixth round in 2014 and sign him for $1.5 million. After he spent a year recovering, Cease debuted in 2015 and was steadily moving up the Cubs system when he was traded to the White Sox in July with Eloy Jimenez, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete for Jose Quintana. Cease's best pitch is a hard, mid-90s fastball that reaches 98 mph and has tickled triple-digits in the past. It's elite velocity plays up with sink as well. Cease couples his fastball with a hard, 12-to-6 curveball that he uses to get swings-and-misses, and projects as a plus pitch. His changeup has made progress, but it's still a distant third pitch. Cease's below-average command and control have improved some, but he still walked 4.2 batters-per-nine innings across the Class A levels the past year. There's some thought, because of his two dominant pitches, Cease might have more success as a high-leverage reliever. It's too early for that move now and the White Sox will continue developing him as a starter. Cease will head high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018. His main goals will be to sharpen his command and improve his secondary pitches.
Burdi was one of the country's most dominant closers at Louisville, racking up 83 strikeouts in 70 collegiate innings and recording 20 career saves. The White Sox drafted him 26th overall in 2016 and signed him for $2,128,500. Burdi spent all but 22 innings of his pro career at Triple-A Charlotte, but his 2017 ended at midseason after he had Tommy John surgery. His brother Nick, a reliever in the Twins system, also went down with Tommy John surgery during the year. When healthy, Burdi brings elite heat with a 98-102 mph fastball featuring with intense riding action borne of a high spin rate. He goes for strikeouts with his 86-89 mph slider, which can be inconsistent but projects as a plus pitch at its best. Burdi has a tendency to get quick in his delivery and get off line to home plate, leading to below-average command. Burdi's stuff is that of a long-time closer, but he's been used just once in his pro career in back-to-back games, and he got shellacked in the second outing. There's also a chance the White Sox could utilize him as multi-inning “relief ace.” Burdi is rehabbing from surgery and could return late in 2018.
When the White Sox zeroed in on Adams in 2014, they saw an athletic pitcher with plenty of projectability. He starred as a basketball player in Georgia, and touched has high as 96 mph as an amateur. That was enough for the White Sox to take him in the second round and sign him for nearly $1.3 million. Adams' velocity has taken a step back since he turned pro. He presently sits more in the 89-92 mph range with the fastball, albeit with above-average sink. He pairs his fastball with a slider that flashes above-average potential at its best, but sometimes morphs into a slurvier offering. The White Sox worked with Adams in 2017 at Double-A Birmingham to make that pitch more consistently crisp. His changeup has average potential, but needs to take a step forward with its consistency. Adams is a quick worker on the mound and is lauded for his willingness to attack the strike zone. He doesn't strike out a ton of hitters, but he doesn't walk many either. Adams projects as a back-end type of starter with plenty of pitchability, though that could change if he matures physically and develops more velocity. He's slated for Triple-A Charlotte in 2018.
Fulmer's highly successful college career at Vanderbilt included a College World Series championship in 2014 and First Team All-America selection in 2015. The White Sox used their first-round pick on him in 2015 and put him on a fast track to the major leagues. He made his big league debut on July 17, 2016, barely 13 months after he was drafted. It's been a rocky road since then for Fulmer, who was used as both a reliever and a starter in the big leagues but pitched exclusively out of the rotation at Triple-A Charlotte in 2017. He's toned down his high-effort delivery since he turned pro, including reducing his hand pump and eliminating a stab in the back of his motion. It's still rushed, but less so than it was at Vanderbilt. Fulmer's fastball sat between 89-93 mph in 2017 with Charlotte, and he mixed in a heavy dose of cutters as well. He also showed an inconsistent but promising curveball and a below-average changeup. Fulmer still has a chance to find a spot at the back of a rotation, but there's a better chance he winds up as a middle reliever. He'll have a chance to earn a place with the big club in spring training, but he could wind up back at Charlotte to start 2018.
Brendan McKay was the headliner as far as college two-way players went in 2017, but Gonzalez deserved mention as well. Born in Sonora, Mexico, Gonzalez's pitching stats didn't jump off the page, but he started 22 games over three seasons at New Mexico and hit .361/.500/.589 in his junior year. The industry much preferred Gonzalez as an outfielder, and the White Sox took him in the third round and signed him for $517,000. Though he was a little tired after his college season, Gonzalez made it to low Class A Kannapolis in his first try as a pro and immediately showed contact ability and strike-zone discipline. There are questions about Gonzalez's long-term power potential, though, the answer to which will determe his ceiling. The White Sox believe he'll have average to slightly better power. He's got enough speed and range to play center field, but he's likely to move around the outfield in 2018. His throwing arm is plus. Gonzalez will start 2018 at either Kannapolis or at high Class A Winston-Salem, and his power output will be important to keep an eye on.
Puckett, who was drafted by the Royals in the second round in 2016 and signed for $1.2 million, is lucky to be alive. He was placed in a medically-induced coma after a serious car accident in high school, which left him with plates in his head after surgery to repair a skull fracture. He was dealt to the White Sox at the 2017 trade deadline--along with lefthander Andre Davis--in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera. Puckett missed time after the trade with a lat injury, but when he was on the mound showed the makings of a potential back-end starter with pitchability. Puckett's fastball typically parks in the 89-92 mph range and can either run or cut. He backs it up with a potentially plus changeup in the high-70s he throws with enough conviction to deceive hitters. He also throws a downer curveball in the 73-79 mph range that has improved since his early days in the Royals system. Some scouts see a little bit more projection and velocity to come from Puckett, which would help improve his ceiling. He should start 2018 at either high Class A Winston-Salem or Double-A Birmingham.
Stephens stood out his sophomore year at Rice but had Tommy John surgery his junior year and took a medical redshirt. He rebounded the following year and the White Sox drafted him in the fifth round and signed him for $300,000. Stephens struck out a system-best 155 hitters in 141 innings in his first full year as a pro in 2016. Stephens' stuff and results in 2017 at Double-A Birmingham were solid but not spectacular. Stephens typically sits in the low 90s with his four-seam fastball but can bump the mid-90s on his best days. His fastball isn't particularly lively, so he added a cutter in the high-80s to his arsenal. His primary offspeed pitch is an 11-to-5 curveball with average potential. He needs more consistency with it, as it was sometimes loopy out of his hand instead of the better, tighter offering. His sparsely-thrown changeup is below-average. Some in the White Sox's organization believe Stephens' stuff might play better out of the pen, but he'll head to Triple-A Charlotte in 2018 as a starter to see if he can find more consistency.
Adolfo, then known as Micker Zapata, ranked as one of the top international prospects in 2013 and received a $1.6 million bonus from the White Sox. After a few years of tantalizing tools with little production, Adolfo made strides with improved plate discipline and improved hitting mechanics in 2017 at low Class A Kannapolis, but his season ended in late August after he fractured his hand punching a wall. Adolfo's improvements in the box yielded an OPS 125 points better than his previous career-high, and his 16 home runs were good for third in the South Atlantic League. He also managed to mostly banish the injury bug. He played in a career-high 112 games, besting his previous career-high of 69, before his self-inflicted, season-ending injury. Adolfo has power potential, but he needs to improve his plate discipline further and better determine which pitches he can drive and which will result in weak contact. Adolfo's an average defender in right field with average range and a plus-plus arm that draws a few “80” grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. He turns in run times that are average or a tick better. Adolfo should graduate to high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018.
For a time, both Basabe and his identical twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe were part of the Red Sox system. Luis Alejandro Basabe was dealt to the Diamondbacks for reliever Brad Ziegler in 2016, and Luis Alexander Basabe was shipped to the White Sox as part of the deal that brought ace Chris Sale to Boston. At his best, Basabe's believers see a player with a chance to impact the game offensively and defensively. Problem was, Basabe was nowhere near his best for most of 2017. He hit .221/.320/.320 as he battled knee injuries all year. Eventually he had season-ending surgery to repair a torn left mensicus in August. When he was healthy, Basabe worked with the White Sox to become more consistent at the plate. In particular, they were adjusting his bat path to allow him to make more contact. Basabe has above-average to plus range in the outfield, and a strong throwing arm that could allow him to play in a corner if needed. Basabe is expected to be ready in time for spring training and should return to high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018.
Louisville used Henzman in a setup role for two seasons before moving him into the closer role in 2017, replacing White Sox organization-mate Zack Burdi. Henzman went 3-0, 1.67 with 16 saves for a Cardinals club that made it to the College World Series, and the White Sox loaded up on Louisville players in the draft, taking Henzman as well as teammates Kade McClure and Logan Taylor. Henzman signed for $450,000 in the fourth round a year after turning down the Mariners in the 31st round. The White Sox plan to convert Henzman into a starter because he has three pitches, and he made nine starts at Rookie-level Great Falls after signing. Henzman starts his arsenal with a heavy low-to-mid-90s fastball and couples it with an average slider with varying bite in the mid-80s. His slider has flashed plus at its best. He's also got a split-type changeup as his third pitch with average potential. Because of his age and college pedigree, Henzman should begin 2018 in the rotation at low Class A Kannapolis.
When the Mariners signed Vieira in 2010 as a 17-year-old for just $65,000, they saw a raw arm with the potential to light up radar guns as he matured. They were, in a word, right. Vieira became a must-see minor league who lit up radar guns as high as 104 mph and made his major league debut in August. The Mariners dealt him to the White Sox after the season in exchange for international slot money to help the Seattle's unsuccessful pursuit of Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Vierira, along with Michael Kopech and Zack Burdi, is part of a trio of White Sox prospects who have touched at least 102 mph with their fastballs. He couples the pitch, which typically sits in the 98-100 mph range, with a fringe-average slider and a developing changeup in the low-90s. He's also working on a split-fingered fastball. If that takes, he could quickly become a back-end of the bullpen stalwart. Vieira, who has an effortful delivery, still needs to improve his command to up his odds of finding a spot as a high-leverage bullpen arm. He's likely to head to Triple-A Charlotte to begin the 2018 season.
After Call hit .353/.425/.530 in three seasons at Ball State, the White Sox took him in the third round of the 2016 draft and signed him for $719,100. His first full season was limited to 38 games at low Class A Kannapolis (and another 13 rehabbing in the Rookie-level Arizona League) because of an intercostal strain and a small fracture to one of his ribs. To make up for lost time he participated in fall instructional league in both Arizona and in the Dominican Republic. Call is a well-rounded player who doesn't have a plus tool, but doesn't have anything below-average, either. When healthy, Call's smooth swing allows him to hit for average with a little bit of power. He's a tick above-average runner, though he's slowed a little bit as he gained strength. He has average range in the outfield and an above-average arm, though those inside the organization believe he's likely to land in left field. It was a lost season for Call, who could get back on track with a strong year at high Class A Winston-Salem. Call projects as an extra outfielder in the majors but could be more if he hits like he always has.
Clarkin was the third of the Yankees' three first-round picks in the 2013 draft, and was traded to the White Sox in the middle of 2017 as part of the package that sent third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to New York. To this point, Clarkin's career has been stuttered by injuries. He missed all of 2015 with elbow inflammation before finally getting on the mound in the Arizona Fall League. He dealt with an oblique injury when he changed teams and missed a month after making his White Sox debut at high Class A Winston-Salem. Back at instructs, Clarkin showed a four-pitch mix fronted by an 86-88 mph fastball with tail and sink. He backed it with a potential plus curveball in the mid-70s, an average slider in the low-80s and a below-average changeup in the mid-80s. White Sox personnel note how driven he is off the field and how vocal he is about wanting to be part of the team's rebuild. Clarkin largely projects to end up in situational relief role with his poor health track record and a curveball that will play against lefties.
Hamilton relieved at Washington State his first two seasons before moving to the rotation in 2016. He was middling at best as a starter with the Cougars, and his stuff and his results backed up significantly. But the White Sox saw plenty of Hamilton out of the bullpen for the Cape Cod League's Wareham Gatemen in the summer of 2015 and believed in him enough as a reliever to take him with their 11th-round pick. Hamilton has been a reliever only in pro ball and experienced quick success, reaching Double-A in his first full season. Hamilton's fastball hovers in the upper-90s and has touched 99 mph. He's also got a plus slider that works in the low-90s and gets swings-and-misses, as well as changeup that could be average in the future. He uses a high-effort delivery and is aggressive attacking the strike zone. The White Sox have encouraged Hamilton to continue to throw his changeup more often to help hasten its development. Hamilton was roughed up toward the end of 2017 at Double-A Birmingham, and he'll return there to begin 2018.
A near-exclusive reliever at South Carolina, Johnson was taken in the fifth round in 2017 and signed to $390,000 bonus because of his supreme arm strength. Johnson dealt with injuries in college, including a stress reaction in his humerus and inflammation in his biceps and triceps. Johnson baffled hitters in the Southeastern Conference with a fastball that sat in the 95-98 mph range and touched triple-digits on occasion. That velocity, plus downhill angle and armside life, helped him strike out 107 hitters in 86 innings for the Gamecocks. He's found the sledding a little bit tougher in pro ball, where he'll need to improve his mechanics and sharpen his offspeed pitches. The White Sox would like to see Johnson stay on line longer through his delivery and would also like to see him improve his slider, which is a below-average pitch right now. He needs to throw that pitch with more conviction moving forward and currently, his changeup is ahead of his slider. Johnson should return to low Class A Kannapolis in 2018, and if everything goes well could become a fast-moving reliever.
When the White Sox drafted Guerrero in 2012, they saw a lefthander with present average fastball velocity as well as a feel for a pair of secondary pitches. His career stalled early after shoulder problems limited him to just 25 innings in 2012 and 2013. He was eased into the rotation toward the end of 2014 at low Class A Kannapolis, then became a full-time rotation piece upon his return there in 2015. Guerrero spent the last two seasons at Double-A Birmingham, where he's struggled to overcome command issues. Guerrero cut his walks roughly in half from 2016 to 2017, but the White Sox would like to see further improvement. That's particularly true when it comes to repeating his arm slot. He brings his fastball between 91-93 mph and has touched 94. He backs it with a plus changeup, but needs to continue to improve his fringy curveball and slider. The White Sox also noted an improved effort on Guerrero's part to be more physically prepared every time he took the mound. Guerrero was left off the 40-man roster and was not picked in the Rule 5 draft, an indicator of how he has further work to do to be big league ready. He'll turn 24 this year and will likely move up to Triple-A Charlotte.
Just as his stock was rising at Southern California, Flores lost the strike zone in his junior year and saw his ERA jump from 3.38 to 6.70. Nevertheless, the White Sox liked the ease with which his left arm produced low-to-mid 90s fastballs and popped him in the seventh round. He performed well at low Class A Kannapolis in 2017 to begin first full pro season, then jumped to high Class A Winston-Salem. His fastball took a step back this year, sitting in the 89-91 mph range as opposed to the version that had touched as high as 94 in the past. He paired it with an average changeup in the mid-70s and a below-average curveball in the 69-71 mph range. He's also added a cutter-slider hybrid to his mix, but that pitch is still in the developmental stages. Flores doesn't have a putaway pitch right now, but the White Sox are hoping his stuff will return once he adds enough strength to his frame to sustain a full-season's workload. Flores is likely to return to Winston-Salem in 2018.
Polo has been a traveling man the last couple of seasons. The Pirates traded him and lefthander Stephen Tarpley in the summer of 2016 to the Yankees in the deal that brought Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh. A year later, the Yankees sent him to the White Sox in the deal that sent Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson to New York. In between, Polo played for Team Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, Polo possess a strong, compact build and enough power and speed to slash and burn his way around the bases. He's a well above-average runner whose speed is ranked by some as a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale as well as an adept base stealer who was successful in 34 of 44 tries. That speed serves him well in the outfield, where he has enough range to play center field and enough arm to fit in either corner. Polo is an exciting player who has a ceiling of an extra outfielder with benefits on both sides of the ball. He's slated to return to Double-A Birmingham in 2018.
Sosa, who signed with the White Sox on July 2, 2016, was considered one of the best hitting shortstops out of Venezuela in that year's international class and received a $350,000 bonus. As an amateur, he showed coordination, bat-to-ball skills and a touch of gap power as well. The White Sox challenged Sosa by sending him to the Rookie-level Arizona League. He rewarded their confidence. Sosa has a simple, fluid swing that should allow him to continue to hit for average as he matures. Though evaluators believe he will eventually move off of shortstop as he gets bigger and stronger--they note he's already a below-average runner--he has above-average or better hands and average arm strength. If Sosa gains power he'll also profile better offensively at third. The White Sox may continue their aggressive path with Sosa and move him to low Class A Kannapolis as an 18-year-old at some point in 2018.
After hitting two home runs over his first two seasons at San Diego State, Zavala missed his junior year after having Tommy John surgery. He returned for his senior season as a left fielder and saw his power break out. He hit 14 home runs that year and was selected in the 12th round by the White Sox. As a pro, that theme seems to have repeated itself. After hitting just seven home runs in his first full season in 2016 at low Class A Kannapolis, Zavala tripled that total between both levels of A-ball in 2017. In fact, his 21 home runs were most in the White Sox system. The team worked with him to find a diet that helped him maintain strength throughout the course of the season, and he altered his swing path to get a higher launch angle. Combine the power with an all-fields approach and fringy but playable defensive ability with a fringe-average arm, a ceiling as a major league backup catcher starts to come into focus. Zavala will try to continue to get to his power at Double-A Birmingham in 2018.
After missing his freshman season at Cincinnati due to Tommy John surgery, Walsh became a part of the Bearcats' rotation the next two seasons. The White Sox have used him exclusively in relief in pro ball and he reached Triple-A Charlotte in 2017. Walsh's calling card is his premium arm strength, which allows him to pump fastballs consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s. He pairs the fastball with a mid-80s curveball that can be devastating when it's on. At its best it is a plus pitch that gets swings-and-misses. Those numbers dipped some during a stint at Triple-A toward the end of the year, and he got hammered in the Arizona Fall League. Walsh's command is well below average right now, but his raw stuff is still plenty intriguing. If he can smooth out his high-effort delivery and improve the command, he could find a spot as a big league reliever. Walsh will head back to Triple-A Charlotte in 2018.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up