Prospect Week arrives after some lean White Sox prospect years

Regions Field in Birrmingham
Regions Field in Birmingham (Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

Typically at Sox Machine, the last full week of spring training is devoted to the White Sox farm system. I’ll start on a Monday with a preamble, then cap off the end of the week with a top 10 White Sox prospects list. In between, I’ll round up about 40 or so other prospects, grouping them by shared narratives in order to present posts of substantial yet digestible length.

This year, it’s Wednesday and we’re just getting started, but we had a pretty good reason, what with the introduction of James Fegan and all. He’ll be around to help make up for lost time.

PERTINENT: How you can support the new Sox Machine


We’ve seen the White Sox farm system in worse shape, but a pretty terrible set of circumstances led to its mild improvement. A miserable April put them on track to sell every tradeable free agent at the deadline (and Jake Burger), and they were able to add a couple of noteworthy prospects in Edgar Quero and Nick Nastrini, which added a little bulk to the torso of a top-heavy organization.

Without those guys — and maybe Jake Eder, who had some top-100 cred himself until losing his way in his return from Tommy John surgery — the system would be regarded as having Colson Montgomery, Noah Schultz and Bryan Ramos, before getting to the types of players other systems have in abundance.

That wouldn’t be a problem if it were a situation like a few years ago, when the Sox graduated clumps of top-100 prospects in consecutive seasons to energize the 26-man roster with pre-arb talent. Since those waves of talent landed ashore, it’s been ebb, ebb, ebb evermore.

To illustrate, here are Baseball America’s top 30 White Sox prospects from 2022:

1-1011-2021-30
Colson MontgomeryBryan RamosBlake Rutherford
Yoelqui CéspedesJimmy LambertCaleb Freeman
Norge VeraJonathan StieverLuis Mieses
Wes KathJason BilousWilber Sanchez
José RodríguezRomy GonzálezYoelvin Silven
Andrew DalquistYolbert SánchezBennett Sousa
Jake BurgerLenyn SosaBrooks Gosswein
Jared KelleyMicker AdolfoGil Luna
Sean BurkeTanner McDougalWilfred Veras
Matthew ThompsonCristian MenaAdam Hackenberg

Two years later, Jake Burger is the only player who graduated from the prospect ranks and stuck in an MLB role. His ultimate viability is yet to be determined, but a 34-homer season between Chicago and Miami should have him in circulation for a few years at the very least.

As for the rest of the list, it came out before Oscar Colás signed, but even if you include him, you only get three other players on the White Sox 40-man roster who shed their prospect eligibility. What’s more, while there’s usually a tinge of sadness when a prospect graduates because his absence is felt on the farm system, it’s mostly a relief that the White Sox’s candidates no longer require a ranking. I wouldn’t immediately know how to negotiate Colás’ abrupt collapse of skills or Lenyn Sosa’s decaffeinated cups of coffee against MLB pitching, and I’m glad I don’t have to think about them in that way anymore.

Meanwhile, three of the top four White Sox prospects from that list no longer merit top-30 consideration, and No. 6 tumbled out of the standings as well. There have been pleasant surprises elsewhere — the last two prospects listed are advancing against considerable odds — but not enough to offset the stagnation upstream. That’s why it’s taken Quero and Nastrini, along with the late additions of Dominic Fletcher and Zach DeLoach, to propel the White Sox system out of the bottom five.

There’s some solace that nobody perusing the newest White Sox prospect rankings will have to scour them for potential MLB contributions. The rebuild is dead, and what’s done is done. Some guys are in a position to jump to the majors, and maybe for good, but it won’t be an immediate crisis if they don’t. That’s a conversation that can be saved for 2025.

For the time being, you’ll be able to read about several dozen prospects over the course of the next seven days. Like usual, they’ll be carved into groups, and you’ll read about …

  • Guys who dealt with notable injuries
  • Guys who just got here
  • Guys who made the most of 2023
  • Guys who didn’t, but have time on their side
  • Guys who have one big sticking point

… in no particular order. Unlike previous years, we’ll have James writing up prospects for double the bylines and brainpower.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
27 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dirt

That prospect list… bah gawd

What’s Kath doing? Is he still a guy?

upnorthsox

No.

Nor is Norge or Yoelqui or anyone else on that list not named Montgomery or Ramos. And notably, Montgomery and Ramos are looking like they may be targeted for the same position (3B) so one of them may need to go.

andyfaust

That is such a regular Sox problem. Two viable prospects in the entire system and of course they will likely end up playing the same position. Could be worse I suppose. At least they have a position in the field, and they aren’t 1B.

Last edited 18 days ago by andyfaust
Steve

This isn’t a regular problem. The Sox actually attempt to force collisions by putting top infield prospects at SS. Actually, players like Anderson or Montgomery that dominated the starts at SS are the exception rather than the rule.

Playing SS gives them more reps and the possibility to improve. Also, prospects have more value in trades at SS than at 2B or 3B. If the collision was at the same level, they rotated the prospect starts through 2B, SS, and 3B. One guy might get priority, but I don’t think Semien even got over 60% of the starts at SS. The Sox would list all of them on the roster as a SS and value them as such.

Romy was the last guy that they really pushed to SS knowing he wouldn’t be there long term, but Sanchez and Semien are among the guys pushed to SS just to see if they break.

I’d say they attempt the same thing in the outfield by putting guys in CF who long-term don’t belong there, but the Sox ability to develop outfielders is strangely broken.

Last edited 18 days ago by Steve
mikeyb

Pshh PECOTA has Yoelqui getting 70 ABs for the Sox this year!

upnorthsox

That was before the trades, now he could be lucky to get that many ABs in Charlotte!

Trooper Galactus

So many incredible physical tools in that guy’s shed just wasted by an inability to just not swing at everything in sight.

FishSox

Signs of Doom, # 68- Cespedes makes MLB roster.

John

Unless he had some major surgery, I’d wager yes, he is still a guy.

knoxfire30

I love to look back at lists even just from a couple years ago, it should hopefully remind fans of the “prospects are suspects” rule of thumb. Should also remind them to stop going insane by overvaluing them in trades.

Willardmarshall

Attn: Orioles

HallofFrank

Preach! Every fan should be required to revisit old team lists before weighing in on trade value. Some teams are exceptional, but this isn’t just a Sox problem—prospects aren’t as valuable as fans think.

BenwithVen

Well, hopefully blowing like 60-70 percent of the international budget on 22-23 year old Cubans is a thing of the past. Yikes.

Trooper Galactus

So far, so good. They’ve gone much heavier investing in teenagers on the international market, which is probably a positive sign.

DougWW

Just thinking how much this list has changed. Adam Hackenberg might make the majors this year as a serviceable backup catcher and he isn’t many top 30’s. The Sox now have some real pitching prospects in the minors. The drafting the last 2 years has been much better – especially after the first couple of rounds. Just wonder if Williams and others weren’t in the draft room, how much better the picks would have been.

John

It’s the “especially after the first couple rounds” bit that gets me. It’s too early to call Gonzalez a bust, but for a guy drafted in the middle of the first round, he’s had a very disappointing start to his career.

And in their 2022 draft, it was their first three rounds that seem the best: Schultz, Pallette, and Cannon.

Trooper Galactus

The 2022 draft seems wildly successful if only because the top guys haven’t become non-prospects already.

Joliet Orange Sox

Jacob Gonzalez is 21 years old and has played in a total of 34 games as a professional. I would hope we all agree it’s too early to call him a bust. He may become a bust but no amount of failure in those 34 games would be enough to label him a bust right now.

Trooper Galactus

He’s not a bust, but man, I did not like that pick and I still don’t like it.

FishSox

I was with ya right up until that part about them drafting better….

GrinnellSteve

I’d love to see a top 30 or whatever from a period, say 1987, when the farm system was producing. It might be instructive to look at such a list from the past rather than look at Tampa’s list from 2022. We would have more familiarity with how good or bad these players were.

That ’22 list is evil.

John

And yet somehow the guy in charge of developing those prospects got promoted…twice.

SnackyOnasis

Since those waves of talent landed ashore, it’s been ebb, ebb, ebb evermore

This line is equal parts well written, tough to swallow, and accurate.

Oddvark

Which of Jimmy Lambert, Jonathan Stiever, Romy Gonzalez, Lenyn Sosa, and Bennett Sousa are still considered prospects? Not that their pedigrees are anything to be proud of but didn’t they all graduate from the prospect ranks?

dongutteridge

Here’s something positive; of the trades that Getz has made so far I’ve liked each of them.

Warren Z

I was really pleased to see that Keith Law of The Athletic has five of our prospects (Montgomery, Ramos, Schultz, Quero and Nastrini) among the best 79 of his top 100 list. So, maybe our system is not as bad as many people seem to think it is. Obviously, the trades last July helped improve our farm system a lot.