Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Prospects

Chicago White Sox

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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1. Gordon Beckham, ss

2. Aaron Poreda, lhp

3. Clayton Richard, lhp

4. Brandon Allen, 1b

5. Jordan Danks, of

6. Chris Getz, 2b

7. John Shelby, of

8. John Ely, rhp

9. Cole Armstrong, c

10. Eduardo Escobar, ss

Best Hitter for Average Chris Getz
Best Power Hitter Brandon Allen
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Chris Getz
Fastest Baserunner Justin Greene
Best Athlete Jordan Danks
Best Fastball Aaron Poreda
Best Curveball Nate Jones
Best Slider Jon Link
Best Changeup John Ely
Best Control Levi Maxwell
Best Defensive Catcher Cole Armstrong
Best Defensive Infielder Eduardo Escobar
Best Infield Arm Brent Morel
Best Defensive Outfielder Jordan Danks
Best Outfield Arm Sal Sanchez
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski
First Base Brandon Allen
Second Base Gordon Beckham
Third Base Josh Fields
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez
Left Field Carlos Quentin
Center Field Jordan Danks
Right Field Jermaine Dye
Designated Hitter Paul Konerko
No. 1 Starter John Danks
No. 2 Starter Aaron Poreda
No. 3 Starter Gavin Floyd
No. 4 Starter Mark Buehrle
No. 5 Starter Clayton Richard
Closer Bobby Jenks
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Carlos Lee, 3b
2000 Kip Wells, rhp
2001 Jon Rauch, rhp
2002 Joe Borchard, of
2003 Joe Borchard, of
2004 Joe Borchard, of
2005 Brian Anderson, of
White Sox
2006 Bobby Jenks, rhp
White Sox
2007 Ryan Sweeney, of
2008 Aaron Poreda, lhp
White Sox
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Jason Stumm, rhp
Out of baseball
2000 Joe Borchard
2001 Kris Honel, rhp
2002 Royce Ring, lhp
2003 Brian Anderson, of
White Sox
2004 Josh Fields, 3b
White Sox
2005 Lance Broadway, rhp
White Sox
2006 Kyle McCulloch, rhp
White Sox
2007 Aaron Poreda, lhp
White Sox
2008 Gordon Beckham, ss
White Sox
Joe Borchard, 2003
Gordon Beckham, 2008
Jason Stumm, 1999
Royce Ring, 2002
Brian Anderson, 2003
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Chicago White Sox

In the end, after his big league team had survived three elimination games in three days against three different opponents, Kenny Williams was left with good memories of 2008. But the pendulum generally swings wildly for the White Sox and their general manager, and that remains as true as ever.

While Chicago won its third American League Central title in Williams' eight seasons in charge, turbulence below the surface left him with little time to relax. Senior director of player personnel Dave Wilder was canned in May after being identified in an investigation into bonus-skimming from players signed in the Dominican Republic, and in the aftermath, Buddy Bell replaced Alan Regier as farm director. It marked the second year in a row that Williams made a major in-season change, as longtime scouting director Duane Shaffer was sacked in June 2007.

Williams' characteristic aggressiveness has rewarded the White Sox handsomely in many cases. They wouldn't have made the playoffs in 2008 without signing Cuban free agent Alexei Ramirez or trading first-base prospect Chris Carter to Arizona for Carlos Quentin, who might have won the AL MVP award had he not broken his hand in September. Acquiring John Danks and Gavin Floyd in the 2006-07 offseason has put their rotation in good shape for years to come, a credit to Williams' deal-making ability.

Nick Swisher did turn in a disappointing season after the White Sox sent their top two prospects (lefthander Gio Gonzalez, righthander Fautino de los Santos) and best position prospect (outfielder Ryan Sweeney) to Oakland for him last January. But that move is unlikely to change Williams' modus operandi of using his farm system to acquire productive veterans.

The White Sox rarely have developed their own impact players under Williams, and in recent years have done an especially poor job of advancing hitters. The regression of third baseman Josh Fields, who was sent back to Triple-A after delivering 23 homers as Joe Crede's injury replacement in 2007, and outfielder Jerry Owens continued a trend that Williams is at least paying lip service about ending.

Fields, second baseman Chris Getz and maybe even Owens may get a chance to become regulars in 2009. Further away but more promising is a group of 2008 draftees—shortstop Gordon Beckham, third baseman Brent Morel and center fielder Jordan Danks—who have significantly replenished the system's inventory of promising position players. First baseman Brandon Allen also took a huge step forward in 2008 and appears on the verge of moving into the conversation as an eventual replacement for Paul Konerko as Chicago looks to get younger and more athletic.

The system's pitching depth took a hit with the Swisher trade, though lefties Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard are close to being ready to assume prominent roles with the White Sox. Richard was their most impressive pitcher in the AL Division Series against the Rays. Righty Adam Russell also had his moments in the bullpen, winning three games in one nine-day span.

Bell, who joined the organization after managing the Royals, figures to play a valuable role. He changed five of the six managerial jobs in the system, most notably hiring Chris Chambliss for Triple-A Charlotte, and is taking a hands-on approach to educating players.

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