2022 Preseason Top 30: Chicago White Sox

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

1. Colson Montgomery, SS (No change)

  • Drafted 1st Round (22nd overall) in 2021

Last year’s first round draft pick out of Southridge High School in Indiana shoots straight to the top of the list for the second consecutive time. With a left-handed power bat, and a hit tool to go along with it, the 6-foot-4 shortstop is full of potential. He has the athleticism to stick in the middle of the infield and is a complete hitter, spraying to all fields. Observers compare him to Corey Seager at the same age. His strength and bat speed provide the potential for adding even more power as he develops. A standout high school basketball player and three sport athlete, he also performed well in wooden bat leagues. Montgomery posted a .396 OBP in 26 games in the Arizona Complex League. The shortstop didn’t hit any homers but showed enough to sport a 112 wRC+. The 20-year-old should begin this year at full season Kannapolis in Low-A.

2. Norge Vera, RHP (Previous: 5, +3)

  • Signed from Cuba in 2021

Vera was one of the top pitching prospects in the 2021 international class. He is the son of Norge Luis Vera, who was a standout pitcher for Cuba’s National Team and in the Serie Nacional during the league’s pristine times. The righty sat mostly 90-94 mph with his fastball at showcases and some scouts were mixed on his command and secondary offerings, but the hurler was making mechanical adjustments throughout and he was hitting 97 mph in workouts with the White Sox prior to signing. A hard slider is the primary second offering with a developing changeup as well. Vera has a projectable body, steady arm action and a calm demeanor on the mound. Combine his pitching skills with a high baseball IQ and you’re looking at a prospect with top of the rotation potential. He officially signed as a member of the 2021 international class and the Cuban was the highest ranked pitcher. The 6-6 200 pound righty posted a 0.00 ERA and 0.94 FIP with 34 strikeouts and five walks in 19 innings in the DSL last year. He is stateside and should make his debut in Low-A.

3. Oscar Colás (New)

  • Signed from Cuba in 2022

Colás has arrived stateside and is currently participating in White Sox camp in Arizona. His leadership qualities have apparently stood out in camp and he’s expected to start the 2022 season in High-A with the Winston-Salem Dash. The 23-year-old signed for $2.7 million out of Cuba and the club currently has him playing all three outfield positions in camp. Projecting as a corner outfielder in the future, he likely sees more time there as he progresses through the minors. The White Sox believe that Colás possesses plus power and a plus arm as well. The 6-1 210 pounder hits and throws left-handed and should be firmly on the prospect radar this year.

4. Yoelqui Céspedes, OF (Previous: 2, -2)

  • Signed from Cuba in 2021

Yoelqui Céspedes should continue to move through the system quickly following a strong first season, in which he produced an .813 OPS and 121 wRC+. Although he needs to be selective, Céspedes demonstrated an ability to make adjustments at the plate and his athleticism and speed were largely as advertised. The 5-9 205 pounder could play plus defense at multiple spots with a plus throwing arm. The 24-year-old hit eight homers in his first season but pitch recognition issues leading to strikeouts were evident as well. He’s expected to begin the 2022 campaign at Double-A Birmingham.

5. Wes Kath, 3B (Previous: 3, -2)

  • Drafted 2nd Round (57th overall) in 2021

The rise of Norge Vera and the addition of Oscar Colas have dropped Wes Kath two spots, but that is not for anything Kath himself did. The talent is still evident, the swing fairly polished for such a young player, the fielding above average. Kath is firmly locked in the top 5 at this point. The 19-year-old struggled in a small sample in the Arizona Complex League in 2021 but observers have noted that he was trying to do too much too soon; being so close to home. The 6-3 200 pounder should be the primary third baseman for the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers in Low-A in 2022.

6. Jake Burger, 3B (Previous: 4, -2)

  • Drafted 1st Round (11th overall) in 2017

Jake Burger made it to Chicago last season, proved he could hit big league pitching, and demolished Triple-A pitching while he wasn’t in the big leagues. He’s the most Major League ready player in the top 30 and he should be on a roster for someone. Time will have to tell if it’s with the White Sox. The 25-year-old is on the 40-man roster.

7. Jose Rodriguez, SS (Previous: 10, +3)

  • Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2018 

Jose Rodriguez continues to climb the rankings, as “Popeye” continued to hit, no matter what level he’s assigned to. The now 20 year old Rodriguez wrapped up his 2021 with an 807 OPS, a 115 wRC+, 14.4 K%, 14 home runs, and 30 stolen bases across three levels, earning himself a promotion to Double-A Birmingham by seasons end. Inconsistent throwing angles led to a higher amount of throwing errors, but Rodriguez is working on instilling a consistent release point. Despite the throwing inconsistencies, Rodriguez has the actions on the infield to be able stick at shortstop moving forward. Rodriguez also worked on being more selective at the plate during the Arizona Fall League. Rodriguez is expected to open the season with Double-A Birmingham.

8. Jared Kelley, RHP (No change)

  • Drafted 2nd round in 2020

The 6-3 230 pound Texas right hander had a rough season in 2021. Kelley was selected with the 47th overall pick in the 2020 draft and received a significantly over-slot bonus of $3 million. Lauded for his power stuff and command as a prep pitcher, conditioning has become a major issue in his brief time as a professional. The 20-year-old sustained myriad injuries last season and posted a 7.61 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 26 walks in just 23.2 innings on the season in Low-A Kannapolis. He still flashes a premium fastball that touches 99 mph and possesses a plus-plus changeup that the club believes he needs to focus on more. Developing a slider to keep lefties honest has been another point of emphasis. Kelley must get leaner and more athletic and adding strength this off-season was a big focus. He should pitch at one of the A ball affiliates in 2022.

9. Matthew Thompson, RHP (Previous: 7, -2)

  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2019

Thompson is the best athlete in the White Sox system but that athleticism doesn’t always translate to results on the mound. The 6-3 195 pounder struggled in Low-A Kannapolis last year over the course of 71 innings. He posted a 5.90 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 38 walks. Drafted in the 2nd round back in 2019 and signing for $2.1 million, the righty was highly regarded on the high school circuit. His fastball touches 98 mph but his velocity fluctuates between and during starts. Thompson also throws a curveball and changeup but is working to add a slider as well. He has struggled to repeat his delivery and it’s a point of emphasis for the organization. Thompson will begin the 2022 season at High-A with the Dash.

10. Bryan Ramos, 3B/2B (Previous: 11, +1)

  • Signed from Cuba in 2018

Bryan Ramos was another young prospect that was thrust into an aggressive assignment in 2021. The 19 year old Cuban had a solid showing in his first taste of full season baseball, putting up a 761 OPS, 109 wRC+, 10.1 BB%, 13 home runs, and 13 stolen bases for Low-A Kannapolis. Ramos has solid raw power in the box, and his bat speed and strength could provide him the ability to further improve upon those power numbers as he matures. Questions lingered about what position the young Cuban would call home, as an injury in 2021 didn’t alleviate any concerns early on. Ramos essentially split time between DH and 2B/3B in 2021. Since the conclusion of the season however, Ramos has received some positive reviews for his play at third, while also possessing a strong throwing arm. An assignment to Winston-Salem should be in the cards for Ramos in 2022.

11. Andrew Dalquist, RHP (Previous: 9, -2)

  • Drafted 3rd Round in 2019 

Projected as a mid-rotation starter, Dalquist experienced a problematic 2021 debut season. In 23 starts covering 83 innings, the 2019 third-rounder posted an ERA of 4.99 and a WHIP of 1.723. His stuff rates as average with his curveball being his best pitch. Some question whether he has the physical frame to required to be a major league starter. Despite the grim numbers, there are reasons for optimism that Dalquist will develop into the pitcher that received a $2 million signing bonus out of high school. The absence of a 2020 season, the elimination of the rookie league level and an overall inexperienced team behind him were contributing factors to his subpar performance. Striking out nearly a hitter per inning, Dalquist has plenty of time to harness his command and refine his pitches to reach his full potential.

12. Sean Burke, RHP (Previous: 13. +1)

  • Drafted 3rd Round in 2021

A powerful, 6-foot-6 right-hander out of Maryland, Burke can reach the upper 90s with ease. He holds a significantly high floor as a high-leverage option. Burke’s slider looked good in his initial showing last year and he already knows how to miss bats. He wants to attack hitters with his plus fastball and isn’t afraid to throw it. Command remains an issue for the 22-year-old, and he needs to continue to refine his changeup, but he could be a quick riser if it comes into form.

13. Romy Gonzalez, SS (Previous: 16, +3)

  • Drafted: 18th Round in 2018

Nobody in the White Sox system had a better 2021 season than the former 18th rounder out of the University of Miami. Starting the year in Double-A Birmingham, even the most bullish of observers wouldn’t have predicted the 24-year-old logging 10 games at the major league level in 2021. Mashing 20 home runs in the notoriously difficult Southern league will get attention. Carry that success to Triple-A level and you’re a big leaguer by the time September reinforcements are needed. A bulked up Gonzalez, delivered a .234 and .333 ISO at Double-A and Triple-A respectively. If that’s not enough, the utility infielder, posted a wRC+ of 136 for the Barons and a whopping 192 in 15 games at Charlotte. Gonzalez didn’t perform as well on the Southside, striking out 11 times in 33 plate appearances with eight hits, three of which landed him on second base. With the ability to play outfield and infield, the offensive-minded utility player has a chance to compete for a roster spot when the lockout ends.

14. Jimmy Lambert, RHP (No change)

  • Drafted 5th Round in 2016

Jimmy Lambert holds steady in this slot, as the oft-called upon spot-starter for the White Sox has spent the majority of the year building his pitching strength back up after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019. The right-hander logged a total of 77.1 innings between Triple-A Charlotte and the White Sox in 2021. Spending a majority of the year in Charlotte and battling the bandbox that Truist Field is, Lambert posted a solid 11.47 K/9 as well as a 30.5 K%. While the White Sox have shown confidence in the Fresno State product as a starter, his quickest and possibly most likely path to stick in the majors with the White Sox could be as a reliever.

15. Micker Adolfo, OF (No change)

  • Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2013

Perhaps the most polarizing player in the White Sox system, we all know the story with Micker Adolfo — jaw-dropping power, tantalizing arm strength and a laundry list of injuries. The Dominican outfielder returned from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow and produced impressive numbers in 2021 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. In the the three seasons in which Adolfo has played at least 70 games, he’s recorded wRC+ marks of 126, 137 and 121 (last year). As has always been the case with Adolfo, the numbers speak for themselves when he stays on the field. However, he is out of options and the White Sox were expected to give him a long look in Spring Training. He is simply out of time after signing with the club all the way back in 2013.

16. Jonathan Stiever, RHP (Previous: 12, -4)

  • Drafted 5th Round in 2018

Stiever has ascended rapidly through the White Sox system, as the 2018 fifth-round draft pick is in Triple-A and has seem big league cameos each of the past two seasons. Though his 2021 stats were disappointing, a deeper dive revealed major-league stuff, beginning with a fastball that sits 96, with plenty of movement. Stiever worked hard on his mechanics last year, and his breaking pitches were improving, but still needed to be thrown with greater consistency and bite. Stiever tore a lat muscle late in the year. He’s on the 40-man roster while rehabbing and he should be back with the Knights in Charlotte once he’s healthy.

17. Yolbert Sanchez, 2B/SS (No change)

  • Signed from Cuba in 2019

Yolbert Sanchez showed an advanced, mature approach at the plate in his first taste of full-season ball. He followed up his strong full-season campaign with a dynamite showing in the Arizona Fall League, in which he batted .400 with a 1.048 OPS in 12 games. Sanchez described the transition from shortstop to second base as “easy,” which was encouraging to hear. The White Sox do not have a long-term solution at second base on the current roster, and it’s possible Sanchez receives the opportunity to fill the role in 2023. He should start the season with Birmingham but Triple-A action is expected in 2022.

18. Jason Bilous, RHP (Previous: 20, +2)

  • Drafted 13th Round in 2018

Bilous has possessed above average stuff dating back to his Coastal Carolina days, but control issues had previously troubled him. As a pro, Bilous had BB/9’s of 5.89 and 5.25 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Something clicked for the 24-year-old right-hander in 2021. That BB/9 dropped down to 3.12. His K/9 has also improved last season to 12.33, when it was previously at 7.61 and 9.72 in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The Delaware native has been working his 60 grade fastball at 92-95, a low 80s 55-grade slider, an average curve and a change that flashes average. Bilous got off to a hot start in Winston-Salem and was quickly promoted to Birmingham, where he flashed dominance (and struggles) at times. If the Coastal Carolina product is able to reign in his control consistently, he profiles as a backend starter type. If the control escapes him, a future in the bullpen may be the ultimate home for the 6-foot-2’ right-hander. The White Sox added the righty to their 40-man roster.

19. Tanner McDougal, RHP (Previous: 18, -1)

  • Drafted 5th Round in 2021

Perhaps the most disappointing occurrence of the offseason, Tanner McDougal underwent Tommy Joh surgery on October 28, making it unlikely he’ll take this hill this season. Prospect watchers will miss out on the 6’6” and 210 pounders mind-boggling spin rate, and mid 90s fastball. The fifth-rounder out of Silverado H.S. in Henderson, NV, signed for a whopping $850,000. The slot value for the pick is $340,000 providing hard evidence of how much the White Sox value the big-righty. White Sox Scouting Director Mike Shirley is high on McDougal calling his breaking ball elite and unique in a conference call shortly after the draft. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for 2023 to see him in action.

20. Cristian Mena, RHP (Previous: 23, +3)

  • Signed from Dominican Republic in 2019

Mena, whom the White Sox signed for $250,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019, flashed plenty of promise in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League last summer. Although the 18-year-old was knocked around a bit (69 hits in 48.1 innings), the swing-and-miss stuff and complete, three-pitch mix were on full display. The 6-2 170 pound righty possesses a projectable frame and throws a 91-93 mph four seamer with an easy, athletic delivery. He also struck out 62 hitters in those 48.1 innings with a respectable walk rate (3.91 BB/9). Mena should advance to Low-A and play the entire 2022 season as a 19-year-old.

21. Caleb Freeman, RHP (Previous: 24, +3)

  • Drafted 15th Round in 2019

After struggling with command throughout his collegiate career, Caleb Freeman showed a composed approach on the mound last season to put himself on track to reach a major-league bullpen. The 24-year-old right-hander also made noticeable improvements with his curveball, which can be a plus secondary offering. If the strides he made in 2021 continue into the upcoming season, he’ll be in Chicago sooner rather than later. He should start the year in Double-A with the Barons.

22. Lenyn Sosa, SS (Previous: 21, -1)

  • Signed from Venezuela in 2016

When he was signed, Sosa was touted as one of the best hitter top come out of Venezuela that year. After a rough 2019 in Kannapolis, Sosa bounced back with a solid year at the dish in High-A Winston Salem. A 21.8% K rate and a 103 WRC+ to go along with 10 home runs resulting in a promotion to Double-A Birmingham. Sosa’s luck ran out as his .349 BABIP with the Dash may have foreshadowed. In Birmingham, Sosa’s OPS dipped to .522 as he slashed .241/.240/.282 in 121 plate appearances. The glass half-full contingent will point to his 23.1 K rate as reason for optimism that the hits with a little more experience, the hits will start to fall. Used exclusively at shortstop at both stops in 2021, there is some question as to whether he possess the quickness to man the position long-term.

23. Wilfred Veras, 3B (Previous: 30, +7) 

  • Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2019

Wilfred Veras may not have been the most heralded signing of the 2019-20 international class, but he made his presence felt once he got into game action. The then 18-year-old had a 949 .OPS, a 147 wRC+, 11.8 BB%, and four home runs in his first taste of professional baseball with the ACL White Sox. Veras is known for his bat, and more specifically, his power potential that could grow bigger as he matures. At the hot corner, Veras has a strong arm and a feel for the position, so there’s belief that he can stick at third as he moves through the system. He should start the season with Kannapolis in Low-A.

24. Luis Mieses, OF (Previous: 28, +4)

  • Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2016

Standing at a lean 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Mieses is an interesting player. The 21-year-old started at High-A Winston-Salem and scuffled to start 2021, resulting in a move to Low-A Kannapolis. Possessing bat speed and raw power, Mieses turned his season around. With slightly under a third of his hits being extra-base hits, Mieses showed he could handle Low-A pitching. He has a quick bat that hangs in the strike zone and he doesn’t miss pitches he likes. During his final seven weeks in High-A, the outfielder hit .275/.319/.510. He clubbed 15 homers and posted a .227 ISO. Mieses should start the year in Double-A Birmingham.

25. Erick Hernandez, OF (New)

  • Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2022

This 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic is one of the highest upside signings that the White Sox have made on the international market in recent years. Hernandez received $1 million earlier this year and he likely spends the summer in the Dominican Summer League. The 6-0 175 pounder hits and throws left-handed and likely projects into an outfield corner. He was listed as a top 30 player in this year’s signing class according to MLB Pipeline as well. The outfielder possesses a future plus hit tool and above average power to go along with and advanced approach at the plate and and athletic build with plenty of room for growth.

26. Kade McClure, RHP (Previous: 19, -7)

  • Drafted 6th Round in 2017

The tall right-hander’s fastball reportedly ticked up to the mid 90s last year. He was typically in the low 90s before, but a velocity increase raised his profile. McClure also has an above-average slider and a decent curveball. He rounds out his repertoire with a splitter. After suffering a major knee injury in 2018, McClure bounced back to make a combined 22 starts between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem in 2019. After posting a 3.82 ERA in 68.1 innings in Birmingham, McClure finished out the season in Charlotte last year. The 26-year-old posted a 6.81 ERA but his peripherals were better with a FIP of 4.82 however his strikeout rate decreased (10.14K/9-8.76K/9) and his walk rate Increased (2.63BB/9-3.65 BB/9). McClure should spend the majority of the year with the Knights in Charlotte.

27. Misael Gonzalez, OF (Previous: 22, -5)

  • Drafted 12th Round in 2019

A toolsy, speedy outfielder from Leadership Christian Academy in Puerto Rico, Gonzalez really burst onto the scene in 2021. A cutdown on his strikeout percentage, increased walk rate, and development of power in Arizona helped Gonzalez own a 151 wRC+ and .439 wOBA through 21 games with the ACL White Sox before earning a promotion to Kannapolis. Gonzalez struggled after the promotion to Low-A but he looks like he can stick in center field and he shows an athletic profile. The outfielder hit eight homers as a 20-year-old. He should return to Low-A Kannapolis to begin the 2022 season.

28. Bennett Sousa, LHP (Previous: Unranked)

  • Drafted 10th Round in 2018

A relief-only southpaw, Bennett Sousa is a surefire bet to contribute to the big-league club’s bullpen this season. The White Sox confirmed that by adding him to the 40-man roster in November. Across equal periods of time in Double-A and Triple-A last season, Sousa dazzled to the tune of a 13.5 K/9 rate. He’s been nothing but reliable out of the bullpen since the White Sox selected him in the 10th round of the 2018 draft, and he’s handled every challenge presented his way. Sousa likely makes his big league debut in 2022.

29. Wilber Sanchez, SS (No change)

  • Signed from Venezuela in 2019

Wilber Sanchez holds his spot on the list from our mid-season rankings. After posting a modest .269/.313/.385 line in the ACL, the White Sox were aggressive with the Venezuelan and sent him to Kannapolis to finish out the season. Unsurprisingly, Sanchez endured offensive struggles, batting .200/.254/.339. The recently turned 20 year old is thought to possess solid bat-to-ball skills, however the bat is still developing. At this point, defense remains his calling card. Sanchez is a strong defender and the White Sox believe he has the tools to remain at the position.

30. Adam Hackenberg, C (Previous: Unranked) 

  • Drafted 18th round in 2021

Taken in the 18th round of the 2021 draft out of Clemson, the long-scouted Hackenberg was selected for his plus defense. Despite his durable 6’2” 225 frame, he suffered numerous injuries at Clemson and only showed flashes at the plate. His success at the dish changed dramatically upon arrival in Kannapolis. In 86 plate appearances, he slashed .346/.384/.457 with an 18.6% K rate. Couple that with a 130 wRC+ and an .841 OPS and you get a tantalizing performance than landed him on our top 30 list. Critics will point to his unsustainable .422 BABIP. Athletic behind the plate, his solid defense is his most imprortant tool, but ultimately his success with the bat will determine his career trajectory.

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James Fox
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