Top White Sox prospect rankings preseason 2020, 16-30

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.

We release the list in two parts. This is the prospects ranked 16-30. The full list is available here.

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

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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