Twice annually, the writers at Future Sox work together to produce a list of the top prospects in the White Sox system. We use a voting system among the staff, then argue out specific players and rankings, until we come to a final list.
This is the full list, including capsules for the top 15, and listing the names for 16-30 and those who just missed the list. For more details on the other prospects, you can read our Just Missed teaser and the 16-30 list, each of which have capsules for the players listed.
ELIGIBILITY: We consider a “prospect” any player in the White Sox organization who has not yet achieved MLB Rookie status.
HOW WE EVALUATE PROSPECTS: You can read this primer to get an idea of how we go about the sticky, subjective business of ranking prospects. Our writers and contributors saw every stateside affiliate live for multiple games in the past year, in addition to the back fields at Spring Training, fall instructs and the AFL.
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: Plainly put, this is the deepest the White Sox system has been since we began covering the team in 2003 (and probably longer than that). Nine of the thirty players (including six of the top ten) have joined the team in the past six months. The trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in exchange for seven significant prospects, along with a strong 2016 draft class and the continued improvement and emergence of the Latin American pipeline, while not trading away any significant prospects have all contributed to the rise. This is now a top ten system in MLB, with as many as seven Top 100 overall prospects in the house. Keep that in mind when you see that some players have dropped a few slots – it is often not due to their own descent, as much as the influx of premier talent at the top of the list.
FOR MORE DETAILS: If you click on the bolded player’s name, you’ll be taken to that player’s prospect profile, where you can find deeper details, links to videos and other content.
1. Yoan Moncada, 2B [NEW]
- Signed from Cuba in 2015 ($31.5M bonus) by BOS
No surprise here, as Moncada is one of the five or so best prospects in all of baseball. The top prospect acquired in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada is a physical beast who looks like he should be modeling for Underarmour. He was signed from Cuba in March of 2015 for a record $31.5M (which was effectively $63M for Boston due to penalties) and so far has lived up to the hype. In his 187 stateside minor league games at ages 19 to 21, Moncada slashed .287/.395/.480 and stole 94 bases in 109 attempts across A, A+ and AA, reaching the majors late last year. MLB Pipeline published his scouting grades at 60 hit, 55 power, 65 run, 60 arm and 50 glove for a 65 overall level, and other publications went higher on some of those grades. The White Sox likely will have him start 2017 in AAA, until he passes the magic service time line sometime in May, and then he likely becomes the starting second baseman.
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP [NEW]
- Drafted 1st Round (16th overall) in 2012 by WAS
Moving to the headliner of the other big offseason trade, Giolito was the biggest name acquired in exchange for Adam Eaton. A physical specimen right out of a pitching coach’s dream at 6’6” and 255 pounds with plenty of athleticism, Giolito has had the label of “phenom” put on him since he was slated to go #1 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. However, after it was revealed he would require Tommy John surgery, he fell to 16th where the Nationals scooped him up. When Giolito is on, he features a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball that displays plenty of downhill plane and a true plus-plus old school hammer curveball that he can throw for strikes or bury in the dirt. He also has been tinkering with a two-seam fastball and has a developing change-up. Giolito’s development took a step back in 2016 when Washington supposedly tweaked his mechanics and he struggled in a brief (6.75 ERA in 21.1 IP) debut in the majors. If the White Sox can get him back on track by consistently repeating his delivery, Giolito’s potential ceiling is a front of the rotation stud.
3. Michael Kopech, RHP [NEW]
- Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (33rd overall) in 2014 by BOS
Kopech is the type of pitching prospect that scouts love, and its easy to see why. He has ideal size (6’3”, 205), athleticism, and a lightning arm with vicious stuff. Kopech shot up prospect lists thanks to an incredible 2016 campaign that saw him post a 2.08 ERA and strike out 86 batters over 56.1 innings mostly in A+ Salem and an electrifying Arizona Fall League performance. His fastball famously topped out at 105 MPH during a start in July, but sits 98-100 with with plenty of movement. Kopech has two off-speed pitches that have flashed plus: an 86-90 MPH slider with sharp breaking action and a 91-93 MPH change-up that is especially devastating when combined with his triple-digits fastball. While Kopech offers tantalizing upside, there is a bit of risk here as well. He was suspended 50 games in 2015 for a positive PED test and missed significant time in 2016 when he broke his hand in an altercation with a teammate. Because of those incidents, Kopech hasn’t had the chance to show he can maintain his extreme velocity over the course of a full season’s workload. He also has had trouble harnessing his plus stuff, issuing 69 walks over his first 134.1 professional innings. 2017 will be a big year for Kopech to answer these questions, and if he is able to, he has as much upside as any pitching prospect in baseball.
4. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP [NEW]
- Signed from Dominican Republic in 2012 ($17k) by WAS
The Nationals signed Lopez in 2012 as a undersized and scrawny 18-year old for $17,000. At that time, Lopez was topping out in the upper 80’s, but he quickly blossomed thanks to a commitment to a workout regime, that gave him added bulk. He was throwing harder than ever before, perhaps to the detriment of his arm, as he was shut down for the 2013 season thanks to “bone weakness”. Lopez came roaring back in 2014 and beyond and blitzed his way through the minors until the Nationals saw he could help them in their playoff push last season, and he spent the second part of the year splitting time between AAA Syracuse and Washington. Lopez was understandably inconsistent over his 44 major league innings, but did have dominant starts, including an 11 strikeout performance against Atlanta on August 18th. Lopez’s arsenal begins with a plus fastball that tops out at 100 MPH and typical sits between 95-97. He backs that up with a 78-81 MPH slurvy curveball that is already above average and projects plus. He locates it well and is able to bury it as an out pitch. Lopez’s third offering is a below average upper 80’s change-up that he rarely uses, but some scouts bullish project as a 55 potential pitch. Evaluators are torn if Lopez profiles more as a starter or as a late inning reliever. He doesn’t have ideal size for a starter (6’0”, 185), and has an arm-heavy delivery. The White Sox are committed to him as a starter and if he develops his change-up, his ceiling is a #2-3 starter.
5. Zack Collins, C [Previous: 1st, -4]
- Drafted 1st Round (10th overall) in 2016
Collins‘ drop from first to fifth is the direct result of the addition of elite prospects ahead of him, not due to any problems the catcher has had. In fact, Collins made a good impression in his professional debut, mostly with Winston-Salem. The consensus from scouts and analysts is that Collins’ offensive tools will likely carry him to a major league job, but there are doubts about his ability to stick as a backstop. To that end, while he has enough arm strength, he has a lot of work to do as a receiver and blocker. The Sox believe he can get there, and will take the smart road and keep him behind the plate to play that out. Collins projects with plus power and an advanced plate approach, which means that if he develops to plan offensively, he could find a home elsewhere on the field. His 2016 look in High-A was encouraging enough especially for his draft year (.258/.418/.467), though he did swing and miss a fair amount (39 K in 153 PA). For 2017, he’ll be catching every day, starting in either A+ or AA.
6. Carson Fulmer, RHP [Previous: 2nd, -4]
- Drafted 1st Round (8th overall) in 2015
He’s been discussed so rarely lately that he seems forgotten by some, but despite his struggles, Fulmer is still a high potential talent and a key part of the White Sox rebuild. After fighting through mechanical changes in AA that caused erratic control, he settled in nicely and finished well at AAA Charlotte after a brief MLB look. Fulmer typically throws a fastball that runs low to mid-90’s with run, a curveball that can be devastating, and a change-up that is still coming along. He’s also recently added a cutter. Command is still a work in progress and may never be precise, given his somewhat violent delivery. But the ceiling of a 3rd or 4th starter is still in play, with a late inning reliever backup plan. Fulmer will likely take his bulldog demeanor to the Charlotte rotation to open 2017, and as soon as he seems comfortable and consistent, he likely joins the big club during the season. Opening the year with Chicago is possible, but not likely.
7. Alec Hansen, RHP [Previous: 5th, -2]
- Drafted 2nd Round in 2016
Going into the 2016 college season, Hansen was seen by some as a top overall pick candidate for the draft. His command and control fell apart entirely that spring though, and the White Sox saw an opportunity (and some fixable flaws) that prompted them to roll the dice. The gamble paid off, as Hansen dramatically improved his consistency and command, breezing through both rookie affiliates and a pair of starts in Kannapolis (1.32 ERA, 4.0 H/9, 3.3 BB/9, 13.3 K/9 in 54.2 IP combined). The 6’7″ right-hander throws a mid-90’s fastball that touches 97, an inconsistent but at-times nasty mid-80’s slider, a curve and a change-up, all from a downhill delivery with bonus scream face. All but the change of pace have been graded above average future value by national publications. A full season in 2017 will be indicative, but the current consensus is that the Sox stole an upper first round-level pick in the 2nd round.
8. Zack Burdi, RHP [Previous: 4th, -4]
- Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (26th overall) in 2016
Burdi may not have quite the peak velocity of Kopech, but he throws exceptionally hard. We got video of him hitting 102 in Winston-Salem in 2016, and his fastball generally sits in the 96-100 range with significant movement. Add to that a wipe-out slider around 88-90 and a less developed change of pace in the same velocity range, and you have the makings of a flame-throwing closer. Command is behind velocity and movement, but that did show improvement as the season went on last year. He won’t need to be a surgeon for that 1-2 punch to play from the pen but he does need to be closer to target more often to succeed in the majors. It is possible the team could explore converting him to a starting role later, but for now, all indications are he enters 2017 as a reliever, and likely gets to Chicago during the season.
9. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF [NEW]
- Signed from Venezuela in 2012 ($450k)
Luis Alexander Basabe is often referred to as a “toolsy” outfielder, a description which may cause White Sox fans to wince given the team’s history with others in that category. But this is not Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson or even Adam Engel. This Basabe (not to be confused with his twin brother, Luis Alejandro Basabe) has plus raw power, plus speed with good instincts on the bases, and an above average arm. He’s also a center fielder for now with evaluators seeing a good chance to stick there, though he needs some refinement. He shows patience at the plate and draws some walks, and even his strikeouts seem to happen often while looking according to a Baseball America report. In 2016 Basabe posted a .780 OPS across both levels of A-ball (mostly the lower level) and stole 25 bases in 30 attempts in his age 19 season.
10. Dane Dunning, RHP [NEW]
- Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (29th overall) in 2016 by WAS
Dunning may have been the “last” piece of the Adam Eaton trade, but he’s a legitimate prospect nonetheless. The supplemental first rounder cruised through pro debut in 8 starts: 2.02 ERA, 6.6 H/9, 1.8 BB/9, 8.1 K/9 across two levels, mostly in short season A-ball. Dunning throws a heavy fastball in the low 90’s that touches 95 and grades plus in multiple reports, and a heavy-breaking mid-80’s slider along with a less developed change-up. From a good pitcher’s frame, he fills up the zone and commands both his primary pitches well. As he was temporarily in the bullpen in college, Dunning is still developing his repertoire and is likely to add a 4th pitch (if he hasn’t already). While the “command and control guy” label applies here, his stuff is better than others that are often tagged that way.
11. Jordan Stephens, RHP [Previous: 8th, -3]
- Drafted 5th Round in 2015
Drafted in the 5th round in 2015 and signed under slot as a post-TJS pitcher, Stephens has done nothing but impress as he keeps climbing prospect lists. In 2016, his first full year after surgery, this Texan skipped Kanny to go to Winston-Salem and had little trouble setting down Carolina League hitters (3.45 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 9.9 K/9 in 141 IP). His 4-seam fastball actually increased in velocity as the year went on, from low 90’s to more mid-90’s, and he works off that to a 2-seamer, curveball and change-up (he also recently added a cutter). The sinker and bender both show average or better, according to scouts we’ve spoken with. Stephens is a bulldog on the mound and is praised for his baseball IQ. He likely starts 2017 in the Birmingham rotation.
12. Alex Call, OF [Previous: 15th, +3]
- Drafted 3rd Round in 2016
The fact that Call has moved up three slots since our last list, despite the addition of six high-end prospects ahead of him, should tell you how things have been going for him. The 2016 3rd round pick garners outsize attention from our readers, and not without reason – he had a big debut statistically, posting a .308/.394/.445 line across rookie and A-ball and adding 14 swipes for good measure. Call shows an advanced feel for hitting with some pop, and above average speed. Defensively he played mostly in center in 2016, and local reports spoke positively of his glove work. If he can be an average or better defender there his stock could rise even further, though his bat might carry him as a corner player as well. A senior White Sox front office member said, unsolicited, that Call’s make-up is “off the charts”. He could repeat at Kanny, but more likely he opens 2017 in Winston-Salem.
13. Spencer Adams, RHP [Previous: 3rd, -11]
- Drafted 2nd Round in 2014
Adams is not the pitcher he was when he was drafted, but there is still a lot of ceiling room. The 2015-2016 version relies on a 2-seamer in the 87-89 range as his bread and butter, offset by a 4-seamer usually around 90-92 (will run to 94 occasionally), a mid-80’s slider that can show very good movement, and finally a change-up. Adams’ delivery has cleaned up since his debut, and he has shown good stamina from a fairly slender frame. Command is strong with both fastballs, and a little softer but improving on the off-speeds. How far Adams will go depends on two factors – can he get back to the velocity and movement of his former fastball, and how consistent can he get with his breaking pitches. Look for Adams to start 2017 in AA as a still quite young 21-year old with time to develop.
14. Jameson Fisher, OF [Previous: 11th, -2]
- Drafted 4th Round in 2016
The White Sox grabbed Fisher in the 4th round of the 2016 draft after he posted the best on base percentage in all of Division I baseball with a .558 mark. There are few questions about Fisher’s bat or sweet swing, especially after he destroyed rookie ball pitching to the tune of .342/.436/.487, but defensively it is a different story. Fisher was a catcher before he missed all of the 2015 season with a torn labrum and then moved to first base during his last season. The White Sox decided to make him a full time left fielder with mixed results, as he missed time on several occasions due to minor injuries diving in the outfield. There is some skepticism of him sticking in the outfield and in that scenario, he would end up at 1B/DH, which would limit some of the value his bat would provide. Regardless of his defensive position, Fisher controls the strike zone and barrels up pitches better than anyone in the Sox system, only rivaled by 2016 first round pick Zack Collins. If his outfield defense improves to the point where he is playable, he would likely move up this list in the near future.
15. Luis Curbelo, SS [Previous: 7th, -8]
- Drafted 6th Round in 2016
No ranking on this list is more based on projection than that of Curbelo. The prep pick was seen as a tough sign, and his $700k bonus (versus a $286k slot) stands as evidence. The statistical results in the AZL weren’t great (.226/.303/.323, 2 HR in 185 PA), but the end results aren’t the focus in this case. Curbelo shows a very fast bat, and scouts feel he has substantial power potential he’s yet to tap into. Defensively he’s got soft hands and arm strength to spare for any infield slot but some analysts feel he’s likely to move to third base as he fills out his frame. He does show good first step quickness, but the range may limit him away from short. Still a teenager, Curbelo won’t move especially fast just yet and likely goes back to rookie ball in 2017.
16. Adam Engel, OF [Previous: 10th, -6]
17. Trey Michalzewski, 3B [Previous: 6th, -11]
18. Charlie Tilson, OF [NEW]
19. Jake Peter, INF [Previous: 19th, no change]
20. Amado Nunez, SS [Previous: 13th, -7]
21. Micker Adolfo, OF [Previous: 9th, -12]
22. Jordan Guerrero, LHP [Previous: 12th, -10]
23. Eddy Alvarez, SS [Previous: 26th, +3]
24. Brian Clark, LHP [Previous: 20th, -4]
25. Bernardo Flores, LHP [Previous: Unranked]
26. Corey Zangari, 1B [Previous: 17th, -9]
27. Seby Zavala, C [Previous: 24th, -3]
28. Dylan Covey, RHP [NEW]
29. Luis Martinez, RHP [Previous: Unranked]
30. Rymer Liriano, OF [NEW]
OTHERS RECEIVING CONSIDERATION (in order of last out): Jacob May, Matt Cooper, Aaron Schnurbusch, Tyler Danish, Victor Diaz, Yosmer Solorzano, Josue Guerrero, Johan Cruz, Jhoandro Alfaro, Nick Delmonico, Courtney Hawkins, Brad Goldberg, Matt Davidson, Zachary Thompson, Joel Booker
Want to know right away when we publish a new article? Type your email address in the box on the right-side bar (or at the bottom, if on a mobile device) and click the “create subscription” button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.