The top seven top 10 White Sox prospect lists for 2021

The laggards at MLB Pipeline finally got around to posting their top 30 prospects for the White Sox in 2021. Reading it, I first noticed that it’s the only list to match mine through the first seven. I then realized that it was the final outstanding list needed in order to compile the annual big board of White Sox prospect rankings.

Here is said big board of White Sox prospect rankings, with the usual bunch of observations below it.


*The consensus is clear: Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal and Garrett Crochet as the top four. Baseball Prospectus’ list is the lone exception due to its exuberance for Madrigal, but it only has Vaughn two spots behind in BP’s Top 101 list (12th and 14th), with Kopech one spot behind Crochet (36th and 37th).

*Matthew Thompson was the only pitcher still in the organization to usurp Jared Kelley on any list. That was courtesy of Keith Law, who explained his enthusiasm for Thompson’s case on the Sox Machine Podcast.

LISTEN: Sox Machine Podcast: State of the White Sox farm system with Keith Law

*Jonathan Stiever finished just outside my top 10, mostly because I couldn’t separate him from Jimmy Lambert, who didn’t quite feel top-10 material to me. It’d be great if either embarrassed me for my pessimism.

*Yoelqui Céspedes is the hardest guy to place, partially because he didn’t show up until after the publication of some lists (Baseball America, BPro), because outlets had old information (FanGraphs), or because reports simply vary wildly.

*FanGraphs’ future value-based rankings resulted in the most unusual list, although Zack Burdi’s inclusion is the only one that strikes me as truly out of place. He just turned 26, and he’s not a great candidate to stick in the bullpen.

*Micker Adolfo still has his share of fans, perhaps because he’s the one outfielder in the White Sox system who has shown the ability to pull the ball in the air. I just think he’s missed too many reps to give him too much consideration. I’d rather give the nod to younger prospects who haven’t yet shown any fatal flaws, Bryan Ramos being the most promising thus far.

*Codi Heuer made two lists, which also confuses me since he used up his rookie eligibility last year. Besides BPro, BA ranked him 11th.


  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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LuBob DuRob

Has it been confirmed that Cespedes will play stateside this year? If so, it’ll be interesting to see where he ranks on the midseason lists.

LuBob DuRob

Man, he looks a lot like Cespedes


Where is Burdi? Has he thrown yet this Spring?

John SF

spring training stat lines are so hard to digest.

Here’s my heuristic description of his three innings:

1 inning where Burdi looked sharp through a couple batters, all his pitches locating and good velocity. Then he fell behind and got flustered. Then he got out of it.

2 inning where nothing was working but he soldiered through and he survived without much damage

3 inning where he couldn’t throw a strike to save his life. walked multiple guys on four straight balls. inconsistent release point. visibly upset on the mound. only time he could get it over the plate was middle-middle which got crushed.


Kind of crazy to me that the Sox are probably not going to get a single player out of the great Birmingham OF logjam of 2018. I would have figured that one of Rutherford, Basabe, Gonzalez and Adolfo would have become something…


Don’t speak too soon! I fully expect Adolfo and Rutherford to be the #’s 7 and 9 guys on the Sox’ 2025 prospect list.

Eagle Bones

I’m still surprised Basabe was the one who they dropped first. Other than Adolfo, he was the only one who had a legitimately above average tool (maybe two). I guess that may have had something to do with them starting his 40 man clock early all those years back?

Trooper Galactus

I think Basabe had four above average tools, but they were all undermined by the failure of his hit tool to develop. He may yet be a good reserve OF, but the White Sox ran out of time and space for him.

Eagle Bones

I don’t disagree that his hit tool didn’t look like it was gonna play, but ran out of space? That was the weird part, there were several other guys in the 40 man that seemed far more disposable.

Trooper Galactus

Hey, Steele Walker could still turn out oka………oh.


I could be wrong but Burdi seems likely to wind up with Carson Fulmer among the Sox top picks that just never panned out. They have had way too many of those. He’s a pure reliever, and just isn’t likely to crack the group they have. Hendricks, Bummer, Heuer, Foster, Marshall, Crochet, Kopech, Rodon (assuming Lopez is the front runner for 5th starter, or it’s Lopez on this list instead of Rodon). That’s 8 relievers, plus Frye eventually coming back in May to push one of them off the team (I assume Rodon or Lopez, since it is unlikely that both will be good… I think would be a minor miracle if one of them is). No room for Burdi, or Cordero for that matter, who looked absolutely awful in his appearance the other day.

This is the best group of relievers they have ever had as far back as I can recall. I think we may have seen the last of Cordero and Burdi in a Sox uniform, barring any injuries.

Eagle Bones

Injuries are going to happen, he’ll get a shot at some point. And even after injury, his stuff looks far better than Fulmer’s was once he got to the majors.

Trooper Galactus

Yeah, Fulmer didn’t just lack command, he didn’t even have any juice behind what he was throwing. It’s why he was getting shelled in Charlotte too.

Eagle Bones

*FanGraphs’ future value-based rankings resulted in the most unusual list, although Zack Burdi’s inclusion is the only one that strikes me as truly out of place. He just turned 26, and he’s not a great candidate to stick in the bullpen.

So I feel like after the top 4, comparing these lists against each other makes it seem like there is more of a consensus on the next tier than there should be (or maybe even is). I could see Kelley and Cespedes kind of separating themselves this year and creating another mini-tier there, but the rest of the guys? More people are probably familiar with guys like Thompson and Dalquist because of how much coverage they’ve gotten via the draft, etc., but I don’t see how there is much, if any, separation between them and guys like Bailey and Rodriguez who came through the J2 side. I feel like there’s kind of a big cluster of guys after the top 4 who are either (1) super young and a ways off with good upside (Kelley, Thompson, Dalquist, Bailey, Vera, Rodriguez, Ramos, etc.) or (2) closer to the majors with probably a lower ceiling (Stiever, Adolfo, all the other AA OFs). That just feels like one big glob of talent that’s all kind of similar. It will be interesting to see who can kind of separate themselves from the rest of that group this year (hopefully it’s several of them).


I hope Keith Law proves to be incorrect when it comes to Cespedes. His opinion on him on the podcast on this site was disappointing. Did not sound like his ceiling was that high at all according to him. Hope he proves to be quite wrong, they could really use an outfield prospect who is a lot better than Adolfo. Hopefully they can score one in the draft this year.

Trooper Galactus

He always has his reasons. A 23-year old who’s never seen professional pitching stateside, has been away from live games for a couple years, and didn’t exactly post inspiring stats in the Cuban League (albeit as a 19-year old) is bound to have skeptics, even if the tools are scintillating.

Trooper Galactus

I think Adolfo’s ceiling is kinda like a peak Jorge Soler, but his odds of getting to that point feel pretty close to nil.

Eagle Bones

Yeah, there’s probably still some kind of decent ceiling there (at least with the bat). It just feels like there are so few scenarios where he’s even like a decent major leaguer at this point.