Top 30 White Sox prospect rankings preseason 2020

It’s prospect rankings time at FutureSox! Twice a year our writers work together to produce a ranked list of the top 30 White Sox prospects. We use a voting system among the staff, then argue out specific players and rankings until we come to a final list.

This is our full top 30 prospects, complete with info on each player.

ELIGIBILITY: We consider a prospect any player in the White Sox organization who has not yet achieved MLB rookie status.

1. Luis Robert, OF (Previous: 1)
  • Signed from Cuba in 2017

We don’t need to say more about Robert at this point. The 22-year-old posted a 1.001 OPS across three levels in 2019 and is clearly the best prospect in the system. He’s one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Robert brings power, speed and defense, all at high levels. After signing his contract extension, Robert is expected to join the White Sox on Opening Day and this should be the last time we see him on a FutureSox prospect list.

2. Michael Kopech, RH SP (Previous: 2)
  • Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (33rd overall) in 2014 by Red Sox, acquired via trade Dec. 2016

For the second straight list, nothing has changed for Kopech. He sat out all of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Kopech should be at full strength in spring training, but the White Sox will be cautious with him in 2020. He could start the season in Triple-A, he could see some time in relief and expect him to have an inning limit. If this isn’t the last time we see Kopech on our rankings, something has gone wrong.

3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B (Previous: 4; +1)
  • Drafted 1st Round (3rd overall) in 2019

When the White Sox took Vaughn with the third pick in the draft, it was clear that he was not only going to be the top first baseman in the organization’s farm system, but also one of the top overall prospects. Labeled as a quick riser throughout the draft process, Vaughn lived up to that title by playing at three different affiliates in 2019. In 55 total games, Vaughn slashed .278/.384/.449 with 17 doubles, 6 home runs, 36 RBI, 30 walks, and 38 strikeouts. He will spend a lot of time at Double-A Birmingham in 2020, which will be the first big test of his professional career.

4. Nick Madrigal, 2B (Previous: 5, +1)
  • Drafted 1st Round (4th overall) in 2018

Madrigal also fits the title of a quick riser by starting the season at Winston-Salem and ending his 2019 campaign with the Charlotte Knights. Across three levels, he slashed .311/.377/.414 with 36 extra base hits, 44 walks and only 16 strikeouts. Known for making contact and being nearly impossible to strikeout, Madrigal lived up to that hype by posting an outstanding 3.0 K% in 2019. He swiped 35 bags last year and was also named a 2019 Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, showing that he brings multiple above average tools to the table.

5. Dane Dunning, RH SP (Previous: 6, +1)
  • Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (29th overall) in 2016 by Nationals, acquired via trade Dec. 2016

Dunning has been on the shelf since June 23, 2018, when forearm soreness shut him down for the season. In the spring of 2019, the 25-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the season. He threw his first bullpen since the surgery on November 18 and has been working his way back to full strength since. Before hurting his elbow, Dunning was a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball, with a career 10.2 K/9 in the minors. Without any setbacks, Dunning will be back on a mound and pitching in the minors around May or June. If he pitches well and stays healthy, he could be in the running for a big league spot come 2021. 

6. Jonathan Stiever, RH SP (Previous: 9, +3)
  • Drafted 5th Round in 2018

2019 was a big year for Stiever as he began to turn himself into one of the top pitching prospects in the White Sox organization, thanks in large part to a streak of 10 quality starts in 12 outings with the Winston-Salem Dash. In 12 starts with the Dash, Stiever posted a 2.15 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 77 strikeouts and 13 walks in 71.0 IP. He also posted a 9.8 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 during his stint with the Dash. His breakout performance at High-A is a trend we expect to see moving forward with Stiever, and there’s potential for him to reach Charlotte by the end of 2020.

7. Zack Collins, C (Previous: 8, +1)
  • Drafted 1st Round (10th overall) in 2016

Collins ended last season in Chicago slashing .186/.307/.349 in 102 plate appearances. There has been significant debate about whether the on-base percentage machine will break camp with the team again in 2020. With major activity at the MLB level this offseason, he’d be relegated to the third catcher/backup 1B/DH role. At 25 years old and having proven himself in Triple-A, this may be the best landing spot for him. Otherwise, he could begin the season in Charlotte to further his defensive development. Regardless, expect him to surface in Chicago at some point this season.

8. Matthew Thompson, RH SP (Previous: 15, +7)
  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2019

The White Sox deviated from their recent college heavy approach to the draft when they selected this Texas prep right-hander in the second round last June. Some evaluators saw Thompson after a decrease in velocity late in his high school season but the White Sox saw him often and loved the repertoire. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound righty has an athletic and projectable frame that produces a mid 90s fastball at present. The 18-year-old also throws a slider, curveball and changeup. The organization took it easy with Thompson to close out the year, but he might head to Low-A Kannapolis for his first appearance at a full season club to start 2020. 

9. Andrew Dalquist, RH SP (Previous: 13, +4)
  • Drafted 3rd Round in 2019

Dalquist was drafted a round after Thompson out of Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Calif. Similar to Thompson, he was given a $2 million bonus to join the organization and begin his career. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder throws his fastball in the 91-93 mph range and touches 95. Extension in his athletic delivery creates deception and he should add more velocity with increased strength. Dalquist throws his curveball in the mid 70s with depth and also employs a slider and changeup. He projects as a mid-rotation starter and could begin the season in Low-A with Kannapolis.

10. Micker Adolfo, OF (Previous: 11, +1)
  • Signed from Dominican Republic in 2013

The injury bug haunted Adolfo again in 2019, however he still has tools to dream on, placing him in the top 10 of our list. After spending most of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Adolfo eventually made his way back to the field via the Arizona Rookie League where he slashed .260/.362/.480 with five doubles, two home runs, seven walks and 21 strikeouts in 13 games. Adolfo went on to play in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the season where the struggles continued as he played sparingly for the Glendale Desert Dogs.   

11. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF (Previous: 12, +1)
  • Signed from Venezuela in 2012 by Red Sox, acquired via trade Dec. 2016

Limited to 69 games at Double-A in 2019, Basabe experienced a regression in his overall numbers from the same level in 2018. In what most considered a disappointing performance in his first half-season in Birmingham, he managed a wRC+ of 111 on the year compared to a below-average 95 in 2019. Slowed by injuries, Basabe gained some momentum in the second half slashing 267/.342/.379 with an OPS of .712 in 37 games. With the equivalent of a full season at Double-A, Basabe is a candidate for the Charlotte Knights roster. Staying on the field and developing consistency from the left-side of the plate are crucial if Basabe is to take advantage of his immense talent.

12. Gavin Sheets, 1B (Previous: 16, +4)
  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2017

Sheets made significant strides in 2019 posting a wRC+ of 122 and impressive K rate of 18.8% in 527 plate appearances in Birmingham in 2019. Power has long been the question for Sheets and although he improved in that area knocking 16 home runs in a notoriously difficult environment his .147 ISO shows a need for additional progress. If Charlotte proves as favorable to hitters in 2020 as it did last year that may be the only tonic Sheets needs to be a candidate for what has become a crowded 1B/DH position in Chicago. 

13. Blake Rutherford, OF (Previous: 10, -3)
  • Drafted 1st round (18th overall) in 2016 by Yankees, acquired via trade July 2017

Rutherford had a brutal first two months of his minor league season in Birmingham last year. It wasn’t until June 2 that his average broke through the Mendoza line and his slugging broke .300; a far cry from his 2018 in Winston-Salem, when he never slugged below .400 and comfortably hovered even 30 to 40 percentage points above that for most of the year. At SoxFest, Chris Getz admitted Rutherford went through some “stuff off the field” during his early 2019 struggles. The outfielder turned on the afterburners in June, hitting .360 with an .866 OPS from June 2 until the end of the month. He walked almost as much as he struck out in his final month of the season, so there are reasons to believe that the 22-year-old has finally put his issues behind him and he can now build on his strong second half of 2019. 

14. Luis Gonzalez, OF (Previous: 14)
  • Drafted 3rd Round in 2017

Stuck at spot 14 is Gonzalez, who struggled in his first year in Birmingham. A lot of Gonzalez’ struggles were discussed in this piece, but the Cliff’s Notes: too much emphasis on power output by excessively pulling the baseball, getting away from the opposite field doubles stroke, and too much weak contact compared to the past. In his final month, Gonzalez redeemed himself a little bit, by hitting . 280/.370/.398 with a season-high .768 OPS. Though it was nowhere near the .880 OPS he posted a year ago in Winston-Salem, there is still enough hope stemming from 2018 to believe a second year in Birmingham can unlock the potential of the 24-year-old.

15. Yolbert Sanchez, SS (Previous: 17, +2)
  • Signed from Cuba in 2019

Sanchez immediately joined the top 30 of our rankings when he signed for $2.5 million last July 2. Despite being 22, the White Sox kept him in the Dominican Summer League. There he hit .297/.386/.441 in 29 games. The production was less relevant than getting him some games in while preparing for him to make his American debut in 2020. Sanchez is known more for his glove than his bat. That said, he will turn 23 in March so he should be on a fairly aggressive track to the majors.

16. Jimmy Lambert, RH SP (Previous: 20, +4)
  • Drafted 5th Round in 2016

Lambert had a breakout year in 2018, succeeding at both Winston-Salem and Birmingham. He did so with K/9s above 10 at both levels. Last year was on track to see more of the same from Lambert. Through May 16, he had a 3.22 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 17 walks in 44.2 innings. In his next three starts he gave up 14 earned runs in 14.2 innings and walked 10. Both were drastic spikes for someone who had been consistent for more than a year at that point. Turns out, Lambert needed Tommy John surgery. He had the surgery in late June, which means he will miss the start of 2020 as well. If he had stayed healthy, he’d likely be making his MLB debut this year. Now, the 25-year-old is just looking to get back on track.

17. Konnor Pilkington, LH SP (Previous: 18, +1)
  • Drafted 3rd Round in 2018

Pilkington was thought of as a potential first-round pick after his sophomore year at Mississippi State, but inconsistency has plagued him ever since. Both his performances and his stuff have been inconsistent. Pilkington proved to be too good for Low-A Kannapolis to start 2019 and he earned a promotion after six starts. At Winston-Salem, things didn’t go as well. He had a 4.99 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 39 walks in 95.2 innings.

18. Zack Burdi, RH RP (Previous: 25, +7)
  • Drafted 1st round (26th overall) in 2016

Burdi ranks as the highest of four relievers on our top 30 because of his upside. When healthy, Burdi has a triple-digit fastball and a good slider. He has high-end reliever stuff. The key part is staying healthy. He had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and hasn’t shown his best stuff since. In 11 innings late in 2018 and 22.2 innings in 2019, Burdi’s velocity hasn’t been upper 90s. It was still early enough in his recovery process to believe in that returning, but then a knee injury ended his season. A healthy Burdi is one of the best relief prospects in baseball so the White Sox won’t give up on him easily. 

19. Tyler Johnson, RH RP (Previous: 19)
  • Drafted 5th Round in 2017

Johnson remains in spot No. 19 following a truncated 2019. He suffered a lat strain prior to opening day and was sidelined until mid-June. It took about a month for Johnson to earn his first promotion to Double-A Birmingham and worked in just under 20 innings across 12 appearances. 

20. Bernardo Flores, LH SP (Previous: 21, +1)
  • Drafted 7th Round in 2016

Like a number of pitchers on this list, injuries have slowed Flores’ development. The 24-year-old has a 3.04 ERA over 156.2 innings in Double-A between 2018 and 2019. After a solid stint in the second half of 2018, Flores returned to Birmingham to begin last year and produced similar results. He pounds the strike zone, doesn’t walk many, but also doesn’t rack up strikeouts. Last year he struck out 7.9 per nine innings, which was an upgrade from 5.4 in 2018. Then a lat strain cost him Jine and some of July. After easing back into things in July, Flores posted a 3.53 ERA with 33 strikeouts and five walks in 28 innings over his final five starts. As a left-hander, he’s always got a shot. He’s also ready to make the jump to Triple-A.

21. Ian Hamilton, RH RP (Previous: 26, +5)
  • Drafted 11th Round in 2016

If 2019 went according to plan, Hamilton would have already surpassed the MLB innings threshold to prevent him from being on this list. After getting eight MLB innings late in 2018, Hamilton appeared ready to take his place in the White Sox bullpen. Instead, a car accident in spring training derailed his ramp up to the 2019 season. When he was on the mound, he wasn’t quite right. Despite racking up 20 strikeouts against three walks, Hamilton had a 9.92 ERA in 16.1 innings. Then he got hit with a foul ball while watching from the dugout. The result was a broken face that cost him the rest of the season. Two injuries that weren’t arm injuries nor game-related decimated Hamilton’s 2019. If he can regain his 2018 form, he could figure into the White Sox bullpen in 2020.

22. Bryce Bush, OF (Previous: 27, +5)
  • Drafted 33rd Round in 2018

Bush climbs five spots in our preseason list for good reason. Turning 20 years old this past December, he has already accumulated 457 plate appearances. Bush brings lighting quick bat speed and a ton of pop in his 6-foot, 200-pound frame. Transitioning from third base to the outfield, Bush battled injuries throughout 2019, but also managed to experience about half a season in Low-A Kannapolis at just 19. Mike Rankin filmed a Bush at-bat during Minor League spring training last March. 

23. Lenyn Sosa, SS (Previous: 28, +5)
  • Signed from Venezuela in 2016

Sosa did not have a productive offensive season, but he was just 19 in Low-A Kannapolis. He hit .251/.292/.371 in 122 games. The power potential is respectable for a middle infielder and his strikeout rate was solid (19%), although he didn’t walk much. The Venezuelan hasn’t really had a standout season with the bat, but has been aggressively pushed so far. It will be interesting to see where the White Sox send him in 2020. Do they give him another aggressive assignment in Winston-Salem as a 20-year-old or have him repeat Kannapolis?

24. Codi Heuer, RH RP (New)
  • Drafted 6th Round in 2018

Heuer asserts himself emphatically in our White Sox top 30 for the first time following a 2019 season that cannot be ignored. In his first full year as a professional, Heuer earned a promotion to Birmingham and proved he was up for the challenge. The 23-year-old notched a 1.84 ERA and nine saves across 22 appearances as a Baron. 

25. James Beard, OF (Previous: 22, -3)
  • Drafted 4th Round in 2019

Beard was the fastest player available in the 2019 draft out of a small Mississippi high school. The 6-foot center fielder signed for $350K and immediately reported to the AZL. The 19-year-old has 80-grade speed and possesses game-changing ability on the bases and in the outfield. He hits from the right side and shows bat speed and hand strength but is raw. Beard just hadn’t faced a strong level of competition as an amateur. Beard will likely repeat rookie ball in some capacity in 2020. 

26. Jose Rodriguez, SS (Previous: 30, +4)
  • Signed from Dominican Republic in 2018

Before the 2019 season, Rodriguez was previously unranked and has now started to slowly climb our list. He spent all of 2019 with the AZL White Sox where he slashed .293/.328/.505 with nine home runs, nine walks and 45 strikeouts. That was good for a wRC+ of 121. He showed that playing stateside for the first time was not too much for him to handle. With Rodriguez set to be 19 years old at the start of the 2020 season, it will be interesting to see if the White Sox give him a full season assignment or send him to Great Falls.

27. Benyamin Bailey, OF (New)
  • Signed from Panama in 2018

Bailey was signed out of Panama for $35K and immediately made a name for himself. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound outfielder was named a top 20 DSL prospect by Baseball America. As a 17-year-old, Bailey hit .342/.503/.447 with a 22% walk rate for the rookie affiliate. He’s a physical specimen and projects as a corner outfielder. Bailey is an above average runner and has long limbs and some natural hitting ability. Panamanians are notoriously well coached as amateurs and that schooling has apparently paid dividends for Bailey. The White Sox have confirmed that Benyamin will make his stateside debut in 2020, likely with the AZL club. 

28. DJ Gladney, 3B (Previous: 30, +2)
  • Drafted 16th Round in 2019

Gladney ranked second on the Arizona League affiliate with eight home runs. That would have broken the single-season AZL Sox record if not for Jose Rodriguez’s nine home runs. Gladney has a projectable 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame with room to grow along with a gorgeous looking swing. He turns 19 in July. 

29. Jake Burger, 3B (Previous: 23, -6)
  • Drafted 1st Round (11th overall) in 2017

With a mere three players in our top 30 ranked lower than they were in our previous version, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Burger slid the furthest of all. The former first round pick hasn’t seen any real action on the field in two years, and as of right now, we don’t know if and when he’ll be back to competitive baseball.

30. Bryan Ramos, 3B (New)
  • Signed from Cuba in 2018

Ramos is the 30th ranked prospect in the farm system over at MLBPipeline and 21 at Baseball America. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Cuban was a standout on the amateur circuit in the Cuban leagues. The 17-year-old signed with the White Sox for $300K in July of 2018 and looks to be a steal for that price. Ramos possesses bat speed, strength and raw power that could project out to 20 homers on an annual basis. He has a great feel to hit as a teenager and uses the entire field. His speed is below average but he has a strong arm at the hot corner. The organization thinks highly of Ramos and sent him directly to the AZL as a teenager. That decision paid off as he hit .277/.353/.415 in his first season. In 51 games, the right handed hitter posted a 110 wRC+ with a 20% strikeout rate and an 8.7% walk rate. Ramos needs to work on pitch recognition and could ultimately wind up in an outfield corner instead of on the infield dirt. He’ll likely spend 2020 with Great Falls.

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