#SoxMorgue: Farmageddon decimates White Sox prospect depth

Rick Hahn dedicated a significant portion of his Friday afternoon to briefing the media on a whole slate of White Sox injuries, and it’s never a good sign when Tim Anderson’s four-to-six-week absence is just about the best news there is.

Outside of Dylan Covey making a successful first step with his rehab stint, everybody else Hahn identified is done for the season. And there was a lot of everybody else. Let’s run them down.

Jimmy Lambert: Tommy John surgery

Why this sucks: With Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning’s Tommy John surgeries opening up some oxygen in the upper minors, Lambert looked like the best candidate to make inroads toward the rotation. Instead, the idea that he could be this year’s Dunning stayed a little bit too close to the script. With Bernado Flores battling an oblique injury of his own, there’s nobody besides Dylan Cease poised to make a dent in the rotation this year.

What now: He’ll miss 12 to 15 months, assuming the White Sox figure out how to rehab Tommy John surgeries between now and then. He’ll have to hope that opportunities remain for him to establish value of some sort, whether inside the White Sox organization or via a trade.

Ryan Burr: Tommy John surgery

Why this sucks: Burr had shown flashes of a better breaking ball in his second attempt at sticking in the White Sox bullpen, although shoulder soreness got in the way earlier this year. He wasn’t specifically a part of long-term plan, but this makes it harder for him to barge into the picture.

What now: Again, 12 to 15 months with caveats. He has all his option years intact.

Ian Hamilton: Multiple facial fractures

Why this sucks: Hamilton already probably figured he endured a season’s worth of bad luck when he was injured in an auto accident before spring training. The subsequent stiffness stunted his spring training, and he hadn’t really found a groove before a foul ball nailed him in the jaw, causing multiple fractures and the loss of a few teeth.

What now: He’ll miss the rest of the season because he has more surgeries ahead of him. I suppose the good news is that it has nothing to do with his arm

Zack Burdi: Torn patellar ligament

Why this sucks: Burdi had already undergone the kind of arduous rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery that makes me skeptical of a tidy “12 to 15 months” idea for anybody else. He hadn’t regained his Louisville velocity, but it was still on the rise, and he was starting to get some of his pitchability back on his secondary pitches.

What now: Like his brother Nick, he’s done for the year. We’re no strangers to waiting for a new season to see if Burdi can get all of his power back, although it’s just as accurate to say questions about his ceiling will be pushed into a fresh decade.

Jake Burger: Left heel bruise

Why this sucks: Burger now stands a chance of missing two full seasons of affiliated ball due to the two Achilles repairs and this injury in the area. Hahn was only “hopeful” that Burger could make an appearance in the Arizona Rookie League. Between Burdi and Burger, it doesn’t make one feel great about meeting any prospect meeting his initial post-surgery timetable.

What now: The White Sox have already moved on by drafting Andrew Vaughn. Anything Burger can provide from here on out would be a pleasant surprise.

* * * * * * * * *

Add it all up, and the White Sox farm system has suffered a ton of damage the last year and a half. Eloy Jiménez is the only one crossed off the list of MLB.com’s top 20 prospects for good reason (graduation). Most of the rest of the list is a mess.

  1. Eloy Jiménez
  2. Michael Kopech
  3. Dylan Cease ?
  4. Luis Robert ?
  5. Nick Madrigal ?
  6. Dane Dunning
  7. Luis Basabe ?
  8. Micker Adolfo
  9. Blake Rutherford ☹️
  10. Luis Gonzalez ☹️
  11. Steele Walker ?
  12. Zack Collins ?
  13. Jake Burger
  14. Ian Hamilton
  15. Alec Hansen ?
  16. Zack Burdi
  17. Laz Rivera ?
  18. Gavin Sheets ☹️
  19. Jimmy Lambert
  20. Konnor Pilkington ?

Not that emojis are a standard unit of measurement, but ideally you’d like more than five of your top 20 prospects be on a smiley track. It’s hard to concoct any trades when the White Sox need any and all prospects with visible appeal, and the struggle of non-Robert outfielders in Birmingham really hits hard, because the assumption was that one of them would stand out. Vaughn should improve the picture a little bit, but then again, the Sox have also seen first-round hitters struggle out of the gate.

Really, the Sox haven’t been able to count on much of anything — not polished hitters, not standard recovery timetables, not strength in numbers, and now the Sox look no different than any other team when it comes to team health. Three years into the rebuild, it’s just about impossible to identify an organizational strength, so it’s all running the risk of resulting in the Sox once again trying to piece together a team around the stars who survived it all.

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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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With big data infiltrating sports, does anyone know if there is a database of injuries for major league teams and farm systems? Is this rash of injuries a statistical outlier? Is seems like a lot, but it would be nice if there was some basis to support that feeling.


This is after the Rodon announcement, but before all of these. There is a link to all the known TJ surgeries and Karko has a #’s breakdown in the comment section. Sox were/are above average. I think most concerning is the recent uptick in repeat injuries and poor record of recovery for the Sox.


I respectfully disagree with your emojis for Rutherford, Gonzalez, and Sheets. It has taken them just 3 months to adjust to AA. All three have really come on strong, recently.

Their development seems completely normal to me. I think it is unrealistic to expect everyone to rise through the system, dominating immediately at every level like Madrigal and Robert have been doing.

Can we just be patient with normal player development?


Robert and Madrigal started hitting the second they got there, so being disappointed in the other guys seems fine to me. Rutherford and Basbae are nearly 2 years younger than average (and in Basbae’s case hurt to start the year), so I’m fine taking more of a wait and see approach with them. But Gonzalez and Sheets are only slight younger than average age, and being first only, Sheets not really hitting for much power is a problem.

The good news for the Sox is despite the injuries, Robert looks like a star and Madrigal is starting to look like a 2/3 win player, and maybe throw in a few All-Star appearances. While the injuries hurt from a depth perspective, I’ll take two (hopefully) All-Stars over a bunch of 1/2 win players looking like 1/2 win players. Throw in Moncada being on pace for a 5 win season and Eloy starting to figure out MLB pitching… If they can find an corner outfielder (it really shouldn’t be hard) and get the pitching staff healthy (and huge if) and good (a bigger if?) they have something, even as soon as next year.


IF Madrigal and Robert perform like that, we’re only a RF, 1B, DH, catcher, and 4 pitchers away from good roster in 2021. And somehow that would be by far the best team Hahn will have put together in his tenure. Man that’s depressing.

John SF

There’s reason to be optimistic about Vaugh, Kopech, and Cease being big pieces by then too. Dunning could too, maybe. That would be pretty great. No reason to think Lopez will ever be worse than a replacement level starter or high leverage reliever. And maybe he’ll still be a lot better than that.


Outstanding graphics and emoji usage.


That graphic is fantastic. Is that another BillyOk?


How mad is Jerry, he may actually have to spend for this team to be a contender all 20 out of 20 prospects didnt work out like he desperately wanted.

Sox trade possibilities have been hurt, but at the end of the day if this roster adds healthy rodon, cease, kopach, robert, madrigal, vaughn over the next year and a half… you really only probably need one major sp signing maybe 2 high end bullpen arms, and a bat , thats not a huge shopping list for a team that could easily spend 150 mil on payroll, and who has stockpiled 100 mil plus by having no freaking payroll the last few years.


You probably won’t be able to answer this but do you know if this has anything to do with Herm retiring?


ok thanks


The farm system is in pathetic shape. That’s why we should have signed Machado, Harper and/or Keukel. Too many guys are injured or playing lousy. We can’t count on automatic improvement next year, because, guess what, other teams have farm systems that are in position to provide more help.
Robert, Madrigal, Cease and maybe Rutherford are the only guys worth following now. And it’s probably only a matter of time before Cease is hurt.
So, you can’t really think about trading Colome and Abreu. Why, you ask? Well, who are you going to replace them with?
What’s sad to think about is that even though Giolito, Moncada, Anderson, McCann, Colome, Garcia and Abreu (leading the league in RBIs) are having big years, we’re still under .500. There is no guarantee these same guys will have the same type of seasons next year. Players who are currently injured or unproven might have to pick up the slack for us to even be .500 in 2020.