Farm Fortnight: In lieu of top prospects, prospects

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Jim Margalus
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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This is beating a dead horse but I am concerned with the Sox ability to develop any prospects outside of the 1st round. If you look at the intended starting position players and starting pitchers going into the season, there is not a single 2nd round or lower Sox draft pick. Ever single player was either a 1st rounder, a trade addition, a free agent or big Cuban signing.

On the position side, Mendick and Engel are the only (potential) contributors not in one of those categories. Yermin was a minor league Rule 5 draft pick so partial credit depending on how you want to look at him.


I certainly won’t sit here and defend the sox drafting and development over my life as a sox fan but I would say recently their higher picks are more hits then misses, and I think an abundance of teams starting lineups lack guys drafted after the first round and or signed internationally. It would actually be really interesting to see how teams have been built side by side as a comparative


At least part of the reason is 2nd round or lower players are rarely worth rostering. All else being equal, the fact that their team is mostly 1st rounders, big international signings, or outside help is probably a good thing.

Insofar as there is a problem of hitting on 2nd rounders and below, it seems to be more a problem of draft strategy than development. After the 1st, they’ve typically gone after polished college players who were, ostensibly, high floor/low ceiling guys. That strategy has gone poorly.


I’m not sure what your argument is but that’s how baseball works. I just looked at the starting 9 for the Dodgers. They have 5 internal players on their opening day starters (Smith, Lux, Seager, Kershaw, Bellinger). Only Bellinger was not a first rounder. Muncy, Turner, Betts, Pollock were all acquired through trades or free agent signings. The same story plays out on most other good teams in MLB right now. The fact that our main contributors are first round picks and international signings is not something weird or out of the ordinary.


Bellinger is a pretty big exception. When I look at other mid-market teams (I know Chicago isn’t mid-market but the Sox operate like one), they have later round players (Brandon Lowe on the Rays and Bieber on the Indians for example) and/or normal international signings (Acuna and Albers on the Braves, Lamet on the Padres).

Maybe the bigger issue is the international signings than the later round draft picks. I don’t know. It sure seems like they are developing anyone who isn’t already really good. But maybe that’s the new inefficiency: not fucking up good prospects


To be fair, they’ve previously (foolishly) traded away young prospects instead of caring to develop them. It’s only been in the last ~5 ish years that finding and developing talent seems to be on their radar. And there are a few guys in the system who look like they could be exceptions to what you’ve said.

But, also, you’ve already mentioned exceptions for the White Sox yourself. They’re no Bieber or Bellinger, but Mendick and Engel are both excellent outcomes for their late rounds. Fry, Lambert, and Stiever are some others off the top of my head who look like potential contributors outside of the 1st round. Again, I think the bigger problem is draft strategy, not development.


You’re right that Bellinger is a pretty big exception but, I give the Dodgers as much credit for developing Bellinger as I do the Angels for developing Trout.

Codi Heuer was a 6th round pick.
Matt Foster was a 20th rounder.
Bummer was a 19th rounder.
Adam Engel was a 19th rounder. I know you mentioned him already but the dude has exceeded expectations by soooo much already at this point it bears repeating.

We have players that were developed from later rounds. If you’re expecting the Sox to develop a superstar from the later rounds, you’re probably going to be waiting a long time. We have gotten contributions, and good ones, from later round picks though. Also, do you really want to say that Anderson didn’t do any developing in the minors? That Moncada’s growth at the plate had nothing to do with the White Sox staff? Remember when Collins was already pegged as a DH/1B on draft day and now people are talking about him maybe being a better catcher than Grandal (I don’t believe that but some people seem to think it)?


No one on the Earth’s surface is saying Collins is better at anything than Grandal.


Save for 77, 87-90, the previous 50 years, they could not develop first round picks either.
Baby steps.


I hate to be “that guy,” but your PAs for the Charlotte Others to Note table are only the home counts and I think you meant to show totals there. For a second I was thinking Goodwin has a 78% K% and also believing it.

Last edited 1 year ago by peterskills
John SF

This article on Romy Gonzalez has firmly put him on my radar.

I also think that we may be underestimating the Sox system a bit. That new top ten list ends with Stiever and Lambert who are pretty wildly seen as for-sure future MLB pitchers (albeit, probably in relief).

Thinking back to the dark prospect days of like 2016, our 9 and 10 guys on any given list were certainly not slam dunk future MLB players. Most of them weren’t even guaranteed to make it to Charlotte.

Counterpoint: that really worrisome scouting report on Cespedes via Fangraphs in April, & all our elite young pitching propsects are getting blown up.


Are they using the same ball in the majors and minors this year? I know there have been differences in the past.