Twitter can sometimes be a source of confrontation, but our readers are the best! They were asked to come up with mailbag questions that correspond with rankings week. They didn’t take that opportunity for granted. Below are the questions that we were submitted and our responses to the best of our knowledge. As always, thanks for reading and supporting FutureSox.
STARTING PITCHER JUMPS
This is a great question to start us off. Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist are the obvious names to discuss here, but they’re both highly regarded prep arms from the 2019 draft class. Jonathan Stiever had made our prospect lists, but wasn’t considered with the helium that he ultimately amassed in 2019. The two names that I would go with for this question are young lefty Ronaldo Guzman and right-hander Jason Bilous.
Bilous was a 13th rounder out of Coastal Carolina in 2018. He throws very hard and has command issues, but he began to figure some things out in Kannapolis last year. Guzman is a 17-year-old southpaw with a great changeup. He should make his stateside debut this year after striking out 76 over 51.2 innings with a 3.19 FIP in the Dominican Summer League.
BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT CANDIDATES?
There are multiple young players in the bottom ten that could theoretically take a huge leap in 2020. Benyamin Bailey, DJ Gladney, Jose Rodriguez and Bryan Ramos could all have big seasons and still not end up in the top 10 range of a good system. If Jake Burger returns to game action and hits the baseball as advertised, he’d be a distant possibility as well.
The best answer to this question though is Bryce Bush. The organization is hoping that his vision and injury issues are in the rear view and if he’s able to play, he could thrive in Low-A Kannapolis. The raw tools, bat speed and arm could the former 33rd rounder into the top 10 if everything goes perfectly.
After some prominent prospect graduations, Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist could rise near the top of this list. Bryce Bush, James Beard, Jose Rodriguez, Benyamin Bailey, Bryan Ramos and DJ Gladney could all rise in some fashion as well. All of these players won’t necessarily be successful, but this is the obvious group to pull from for an exercise like this.
BREAKOUT LATIN SIGNINGS?
Out of the players you’ve mentioned, Jose Rodriguez has the most breakout potential. He possesses a powerful bat and plays good enough middle infield defense to really make a name for himself. Sosa has struggled offensively in A-ball and will likely repeat the level. Anderson Comas and Luis Mieses will likely spend another year in Rookie ball, but could be challenged with a jump to Kannapolis. Their best chance of breaking out likely requires another year in Rookie ball however. Bryan Ramos is another guy that could break out in a big way in 2020.
It’s a positive development that the White Sox were the first team mentioned by the mainstream baseball media in conjunction with the pursuit of Oscar Colas. The player isn’t technically cleared to sign yet, and his signability in general is currently a question mark. The White Sox are definitely interested in him, and there are some opinions that he’d be interested in them as well. It will come down to cold hard cash though, and the club already has around $3 million in international space committed to the 2020 signing class.
SIGNING COLAS, PART DEUX
If Oscar Colas were added to the current group of prospects, he’d likely slot right in at #5. He’d be a top-100 prospect in baseball, but would likely fall in the 50-100 range.
Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist are expected to start in Low-A Kannapolis for their first experience of full season ball. Their ultimate destination will be decided by factors in spring training, and staying back for extended spring training before heading back to Rookie ball for 2020 is a possibility as well. This is a new area for the organization, because the Sox haven’t taken prep pitchers with this much upside of late.
The White Sox have entered a new phase with an emphasis on winning at the major league level. We don’t know which players they would target in a deal, but it’s likely that some of these prospects will be used as trade currency in the near future.
Michael Kopech will likely be capped around 150 innings in 2020 and the majority of them will likely be spent in Chicago. It’s expected that Kopech will begin the season in Triple-A with the Charlotte Knights. The White Sox will allow Kopech to build back up slowly and throw his early season innings in warm weather parks in the International League. Health-wise he is full-go for Spring Training and he belongs on the big league staff in some capacity. He should arrive back in Chicago by late May.
FARM SYSTEM RANKING
Luis Robert, Michael Kopech and maybe Zack Collins will almost assuredly graduate from prospect status before the midseason update occurs. Nick Madrigal remaining on the list is a possibility. The White Sox will add members of their 2020 draft class in addition to high priced international signings to balance out the ‘loss’ however. It will depend on Thompson, Dalquist and Stiever to decide where this system will ultimately be ranked. I think it will likely stay in the 11-20 range instead of being a bottom third system, but those opinions will definitely vary by publication.
Abbott played in almost 60 games with the Great Falls Voyagers of the Advanced Rookie Pioneer League. The 20-year-old hit 9 homers and posted a 114 wRC+. The former 8th round pick hit just .238 for the Voyagers, but reached base at a .355 clip. His 36.4% strikeout rate is much too high still though. He should make his full season debut this year with the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers in the SALLY League.
Elijah Tatis has some potential, because he was given a $500K bonus to sign out of the Dominican. He’s likely not the caliber of prospect that his brother turned into, but Fernando wasn’t a highly regarded international signing at the outset either. Tatis can likely remain at SS and might make his stateside debut with the AZL White Sox in 2020.
Gavin Sheets will spend the season with the Charlotte Knights in the International League, which means he’s essentially one step away from the big leagues. He can’t play any positions other than first base though, so he could end up being a bit blocked. Andrew Vaughn seems to be the future at the position and Jose Abreu is locked in for the next three seasons. Edwin Encarnacion will be out of contract at the conclusion of next season, which could theoretically open up some time. Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes can both play some first base as well. Gavin Sheets needs to take care of business with the Knights, and the rest will likely sort itself out. He could definitely be used in a trade package this summer, though.
The White Sox selected Isaiah Carranza in the 12th round of the 2018 draft and paid him an over-slot bonus of $175K. After spending his first two college seasons at Oregon, he was the ace of staff of DII Azusa Pacific prior to entering pro ball. The 6’5″ 185 pound righty possessed a 95 mph fastball, but displayed inconsistent command of all of his secondary offerings. He didn’t pitch in 2019 while recovering from Tommy John Surgery and he should head out to an affiliate at the conclusion of spring training. Carranza was ranked as the #166 player in the 2018 class according to pipeline and was seen as a top 7 round draftable talent.
SIGNING COLAS, PART THREE
There is no indication from anyone reputable that Oscar Colas wants to sign with the White Sox. It’s been reported that they’re interested in him and their reputation precedes them in instances like this. Colas will definitely need some minor league team depending on whether he hits, pitches or does both full time.
Yes, they could be. They’ve committed just over $3 million to signings for the upcoming period in July. They might ultimately need to acquire some more bonus pool space to add onto the roughly $5.7 million total that they’ll have allocated. Players who soon need 40-man protection are the types that get traded for international space, and the actual trades can’t occur until the period starts on July 2nd, 2020.
Danny Mendick seems to be the leader in the clubhouse for the starting second base job right now. He’s earned himself a real opportunity and should get a big league shot in some capacity.
Dane Dunning and Jonathan Stiever are the next two names on most publication’s White Sox prospect lists. Stiever is a bit of a pop-up prospect after bursting onto the scene in Winston-Salem with the Dash last year. His velocity increased and he made changes to his repertoire that unlocked more stuff.
Stiever was a standout athlete in the state of Wisconsin and decided to pitch at Indiana. If he pitches well at Double-A Birmingham and racks up strikeouts in the same manner as last season, he should crack someone’s top 100 list in short order.
Norge Vera will be given a bonus of $1.5 million, which would slot him into the 2nd round of a major league draft. Vera could be the best pitcher in their system by this time next year, but it’s safe to assume that he’d slot in somewhere in the 8-12 range. He should be comparable in a ranking sense to Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist.