Welcome to Rankings Week, preseason 2020! Twice a year, we rank the top prospects in the White Sox system. The schedule of events looks like this:
- Monday: The Just Missed article (this one), individual lists for Patreon subscribers!
- Tuesday: Prospects ranked 16-30, with capsules, full list for Patreon subscribers!
- Wednesday: The full list, with 1-15 capsules, individual lists for Patreon subscribers!
- Thursday: Writers’ roundtable discussion of the rankings (High/Low), individual lists for Patreon subscribers!
- Friday: Mailbag Questions, individual lists for Patreon subscribers!
The White Sox farm system is very top heavy and packed with elite prospects. It’s still one of the better farm systems in the sport despite some depth issues and overall in a much better place than when the rebuilding process broke ground in 2016. Since our last list in August, only two prospects have “graduated” or otherwise left the organization (Dylan Cease and Steele Walker), while some more information has been gathered about recent international signings and draftees.
That brings us to this list: 20 players who did not make the top 30 this cycle, but who our writers discussed and considered in some fashion. The depth of talent on the farm means that even these players (and maybe more) are legitimate prospects. If you want proof of this, check out our last version of this “Just Missed” group from August. Some players have cycled off with younger players taking those spots. These are prospects on the edge of the radar and history suggests that some will contribute value down the line in some form.
Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order
Jason Bilous RHP
The hard-throwing right-hander was a 13th round selection out of Coastal Carolina in the 2018 draft. The 22-year-old posted a 3.70 ERA while averaging 9.72 K/9 and 5.25 BB/9 in 104 innings with Low-A Kannapolis in 2019. Bilous’ command struggles are as apparent as ever but the stuff is still quite stellar. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder throws a 60-grade fastball that sits in the 94-96 mph range with a 55-grade hard slider as well.
Bilous has significant reliever risk mostly due to poor command but he also possesses a long arm action that often leaves him out of sync with his release point. The White Sox paid him an over-slot bonus. They will continue to develop him as a starting pitcher for the time being. Bilous has reached 99 mph in shorter stints in the Cape Cod League and has the stuff to pitch in a high leverage relief role if he can get the command in check. He will likely occupy a rotation spot with the Winston-Salem Dash to begin the 2020 season.
This 6-foot-3, 185-pound outfielder was signed out of the Dominican Republic in the White Sox’s 2016 international class. His lengthy, projectable frame led the organization to spend $425K to get him in the fold. Like most players signed in the international market, Comas began his career in the Dominican Summer League and showed future power potential. He played stateside for the first time in 2018 and hit .306 in the low-rookie AZL. Baseball America still believes in the potential as he’s listed as the No. 23 prospect in the system in their most recent update.
Comas is loaded with projection but hasn’t gained the requisite strength necessary to this point. The left-handed hitter possesses a great frame, above average raw power mostly displayed in batting practice and above average speed and defensive skills. Comas shows below average exit velocity numbers and swing changes will be needed for him to lock into more power. Comas could begin the 2020 season with Low-A Kannapolis but a repeat of Great Falls where he slashed just .222/.251/.351 with 15 extra base hits isn’t out of the question.
Delgado was promoted to Great Falls in 2019 where he’s likely to repeat again in 2020. The infielder hit .274/.325/.377 with two homers while striking out at a 37.5% clip. He rebounded to post an 88 wRC+ after struggling for a big portion of the Pioneer League season. The 20-year-old signed with the White Sox for $525K after beings selected out of a Miami area high school in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder possesses great athleticism and a strong throwing arm making him capable of playing at third base in addition to shortstop. The premium raw power that was touted as an amateur hasn’t shown up consistently in affiliated ball as a professional and strength and approach changes may be needed to reach the promise he once showed.
Matt Foster RHP
Foster was selected in the 20th round of the 2016 draft out of Alabama. The 25-year-old posted a 3.76 ERA with a 4.59 FIP with the Charlotte Knights in 2019. In 55 innings pitched, the right-hander compiled 10.15 K/9 with 3.11 BB/9. His season in Triple-A was a bit uneven, but the White Sox believed in him enough to add him to the 40-man roster in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft.
He throws lots of strikes with a compact delivery and mostly clean mechanics. Foster’s fastball sits in the 91-95 mph range with a sharp slider that sits 82-85 mph. Further development of his decent changeup will likely determine his ultimate fate. He’s on the 40-man roster and will likely spend the majority of 2020 in Charlotte but could feasibly make his major league debut later this year.
Caleb Frare LHP
The White Sox acquired Frare from the New York Yankees for $1.5 million in international bonus pool space in July of 2018 and the move immediately paid dividends. Frare posted a 0.71 ERA while averaging 13.5 K/9 with the Charlotte Knights before making his big league debut with the Sox. In those seven September innings in 2018, Frare flashed some devastating stuff while posting a 2.73 FIP. The 26-year-old made the opening day roster last season and was almost immediately sent back to the minors after struggling out of the gate in Chicago.
The southpaw battled injuries the entire season and posted a 7.66 ERA with a 6.45 FIP over 22.1 innings with the Knights in 2019. He still struck out over 13 hitters per nine innings but also walked more than seven per as well. Frare was outrighted off the roster this offseason and brought back on a minor league deal. He will likely spend 2020 with Charlotte unless he forces his way back to Chicago.
Caleb Freeman RHP
The White Sox used their 15th round pick in the 2019 draft on righty Caleb Freeman. He was a starting pitcher at Texas Tech and signed with the club for an over-slot bonus. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder had a poor season statistically for the Red Raiders, but Nick Hostetler offered effusive praise for the selection after the fact. Hostetler noted Freeman’s success in the Cape Cod League when the executive saw him display a 90-96 mph fastball with a power breaking ball out of the bullpen with command and control.
The 21-year-old signed when his college season was over and reported to rookie level Arizona and posted a 0.00 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Freeman then posted a 2.63 ERA while averaging 13.83 K/9 over 13.2 innings with Great Falls. Caleb finished his season with 4.1 innings in Low-A Kannapolis and likely starts the 2020 season there as well.
Ronaldo Guzman LHP
Guzman has been on the radar since Baseball America’s Ben Badler called him an intriguing sleeper prospect last year. The 17-year-old lefty posted a 4.53 ERA with a 3.19 FIP in the Dominican Summer League last season. He was really young for the level and struck out 76 batters over 51.2 innings. The southpaw was the best pitching prospect on the DSL White Sox roster with a fastball that touches 90 mph with easy arm action. Guzman employs an athletic repeatable delivery and his calling card is an advanced changeup. He was signed for $75K out of the Dominican Republic and could make his stateside debut in 2020.
Alec Hansen RHP
Hansen ranked 24th on our midseason list in 2019 and has fallen off this year’s list. A former second round pick from 2016 who showed so much promise early on, struggles have ensued of late. The 6-foot-7 righty from Oklahoma led the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2017 after punching out 191 hitters over the course of 141 1/3 innings. Hansen received some prospect love and even landed on some top-100 lists but 2018 was an absolute disaster. His stuff deteriorated, command waned further and injuries compiled.
He was moved to the bullpen full time in 2019 and the 25-year-old averaged almost 15 K/9 in 13 innings with Winston-Salem to start 2019. In 39.2 innings in Birmingham though, Hansen posted a 5.45 ERA while averaging 10.21 K/9 and 8.39 BB/9. Hansen still possesses big league stuff with a 60-grade fastball and curveball. He was left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft this past December but remains in the organization. He should return to Double-A to begin the 2020 season.
Will Kincanon RHP
The 24-year-old right-hander was selected in the 11th round of the 2017 draft out of Indiana State and signed for $150K. He attended suburban Riverside-Brookfield High School and was a top 200 draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline in advance of his draft year. Kincanon induces lots of soft contact and has a solid ground ball rate. The righty has been very solid in his three minor league seasons so far. In 58 innings pitched in the Carolina League in 2019, Kincanon sported a 1.86 ERA with a 2.98 xFIP. He averaged 11.02 K/9 but walked 4.03. He competed in 42 games with the Dash and was stellar in high leverage roles. Will projects as a middle reliever in the big leagues. He should begin the 2020 campaign in Double-A.
Kade McClure RHP
McClure only averaged just over 6 K/9 in 2019 pitching with the Winston-Salem Dash, but he dramatically decreased his walk rate as well. The 6-foot-7 righty posted a 3.39 ERA over the course of 66.1 innings after starting the year in Kannapolis. The 23-year-old was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 draft out of Louisville. McClure sits 90-94 mph with his fastball and gets good arm extension. He also shows an average slider and changeup. McClure induces a plethora of ground balls when he pitches and he profiles as a back end starter in the big leagues. He should begin the 2020 season in Double-A.
Kodi Medeiros LHP
In July of 2018, the White Sox acquired Medeiros from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for veteran reliever Joakim Soria. The lefty was taken 12th overall in the 2014 draft, coming out of a Hawaii high school. Command and control have always eluded Kodi. The 23-year-old posted a 7.75 ERA over nine starts with Birmingham in 2019. Over those 40.2 innings, the southpaw walked 26 hitters.
The White Sox then moved the Hawaiian to a relief role for the Barons. In 19 relief outings, he posted a 2.57 ERA over 42 innings. He limited his hit total but still averaged 5.3 BB/9. Medeiros shows a mid 90’s fastball with a sweeping slider and a below average changeup. Medeiros was designated for assignment this offseason but returned to the White Sox organization. He will likely return to Birmingham to start 2020.
Mendick is a scouting success story after being taken in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft. Danny attended the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and added mass upon entering the White Sox system. He plays every infield position and has some pop in his bat as well. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder shows a short, quick swing to spray line drives all over the field. He possesses above average speed and average power as well that should translate into a big league utility role. Mendick hit .279/.368/.444 with 17 homers over 133 games with the Knights. He hit two homers and posted a 108 wRC+ during a September sample in the majors. Mendick has also posted solid walk rates throughout his minor league career and he should start the year with the White Sox.
Mendoza was signed out of Venezuela for $300K in 2017 by Marco Paddy and his staff. The 19-year-old backstop is the 30th ranked prospect in the White Sox’s system according to the most recent update at Baseball America. He’s a right-handed hitting catcher that stands 6-feet and 170 pounds. Jefferson was signed due to his excellent blocking and receiving ability. He also possesses a plus throwing arm.
Mendoza struggled with the bat during his first season in the Dominican Summer League but posted eye-popping totals in 2019. In 33 games behind the dish, Mendoza hit .305/.391/.484 with a 141 wRC+ and three homers. Mendoza uses a middle-of-the-field approach on offense and has a compact frame. He has a chance to provide average power potential and projects as a starting catcher in the big leagues if his ceiling can be achieved. He should play stateside ball in 2020, likely with the AZL White Sox after beginning the year in extended spring training.
The 26-year-old had a breakout season in 2019. The 5-foot-11, 225-pound slugger hit .327/.389/.497 with a 157 wRC+ and six homers in 42 games with the Birmingham Barons. Mercedes then went to Charlotte and the numbers were absolutely bonkers. In 53 games, Yermin hit .310/.386/.647 with a 150 wRC+ and .418 wOBA. The super baseball used in the International League could have been a contributing factor, but 17 homers with an ISO of .337 is staggering nonetheless. Mercedes also walked at an 11% clip as well.
He was acquired in the minor league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. In addition to catcher, he played some first and third base for the Knights as well. Mercedes is regarded as a poor defender at every position but was added to the 40-man roster in advance of this past December’s Rule 5 Draft anyway. Rick Hahn recently suggested that his defense is farther along than some outsiders think, but actions will speak louder than words in that regard. Mercedes will get a look in big league camp throughout the spring and will likely return to Charlotte to begin the 2020 season.
Luis Mieses OF
Mieses is another member of the 2016 international signing class for the White Sox. The 19-year-old lefty was signed out of the Dominican Republic because of his projectable frame and short, compact left-handed swing. Mieses has offensive upside with strong hands and wrists, but the tools have yet to translate.
Mieses slots into a corner outfield spot. He really struggled with the Great Falls Voyagers in 2019. The lanky outfielder hit just .241/.264/.359 but did hit four homers. Baseball America still believes in the potential as they have him ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the system. The organization could get aggressive and promote him to full season Kannapolis to start 2020, but it’s probably more likely that he returns to rookie ball for one more spin.
McKinley Moore RHP
McKinley Moore throws very hard and racked up 32 strikeouts in 22 innings in rookie ball to close out 2019. The 21-year-old fireballer was a 14th round pick this past year out of Arkansas-Little Rock. Moore is a 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-hander that was a multi-sport athlete in high school. After signing, Moore posted a 4.11 FIP in the Arizona League in 19.1 innings while averaging 12.57 K/9 and 7.9 BB/9. He rebounded after a rough start and closed out the season with Great Falls. Moore posted a 0.00 ERA over three innings. He’s likely to start the 2020 season with the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers in Low-A.
After the 2019 draft, Nick Hostetler told FutureSox that Torres “can really flat out catch and throw.” Hostetler stated that his defensive skills are, “elite and plus across the board.” The catcher was drafted in the 11th round out of Puerto Rico and signed for an over-slot bonus of $175K. Torres is ranked 25th in the system according to Baseball America and their snippet lauds his “advanced ability to handle a pitching staff and call his own games as a 19-year-old.” Torres mostly controls the running game and threw out 30% of base stealers in the AZL. The young backstop struggles with framing and blocking at times and passed balls were an issue in games. He also must add strength to his frame. Torres really struggled offensively in 26 games in rookie ball and will likely repeat the level in 2020.
Taylor Varnell LHP
Varnell was selected in the 29th round of the 2018 draft out of Oral Roberts and immediately had success in the White Sox’s system. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound southpaw projects as a back end starter or possible middle relief arm but should stay in the rotation for now. In 2019, he posted a 3.23 ERA with a 3.12 FIP in 106 innings in Low-A Kannapolis.
Varnell averaged over nine K/9 and earned himself a promotion to High-A Winston-Salem to close out the year. He posted a 3.38 ERA in 21.1 innings with the Dash but his walk rate did increase in the Carolina League. The 24-year-old likely goes back to Winston-Salem to start the 2020 season.
Weaver was drafted in the seventh round in 2018 out of South Gwinnett, Ga. He plays centerfield and bats and throws from the right side. After signing, Weaver posted a 112 wRC+ with a 10% walk rate and stellar defensive skills on display in the AZL. His promotion to the Pioneer League to play for Advanced Rookie level Great Falls in 2019 was well earned.
In 62 games with the Voyagers, the 20-year-old struggled with a line of .254/.317/.377 and staggering strikeout totals. The young outfielder is very skinny with top scale speed and athleticism however. He projects as a difference maker defensively and possesses lots of upside but more time in short season rookie ball will likely be required in this case.
Zavala made his major league debut with the White Sox in 2019 and struggled in five games. The small sample wasn’t a big deal, but the struggles persisted in Triple-A with the Knights as well. The 26-year-old hit 20 homers and displayed above average power, but struck out at a 35% clip with a wRC+ of 89. The former 12th rounder was excellent in 2018 with the Birmingham Barons in Double-A.
He currently has a spot on the 40-man roster, but is seemingly on the bubble if the organization signs another player to a major league deal. The White Sox currently have five catchers on the roster and Seby likely spends another season with the Knights. He possesses power and is adept at calling games and projects as a backup catcher.
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