Updated Top 10 Prospects (2017): Chicago White Sox: The Fallout From The Chris Sale Trade

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

In light of the White Sox’ deal, sending Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Yoan Mocada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz, there obviously has been a significant change in the White Sox prospect listing.  Keep in mind that this could be the first bombshell for a franchise that could move significantly more pieces, but let’s take a look at how things now stand:

 

1) Yoan Moncada – Second Baseman (Previous – NR)
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A

His MLB debut was a significant disappointment and may have fully exposed the warts to his game, as he struck out 12 times in 19 AB.  As he was hitting home runs (15) and stealing bases (45) in the minors it was an easy thing to overlook, but it is important to note that it was extremely prevalent there as well:

  • High-A – 21.1%
  • Double-A – 30.9%

He also showed the ability to draw a walk (15.8% and 13.0%, respectively), and at his age there’s hope that he can make the necessary adjustments but it’s going to take him time.  He’s clearly transitioning into more of a power hitter and suddenly shows the potential to be a consistent 20/35 type player (with the upside of even more).  He just needs to learn how to hit for power while also limiting the strikeouts.  If he can do that, you are looking at one of the truly elite players in the game.

 

2) Michael Kopech – Right-Handed Pitcher (Previous – NR)
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+

He missed the start of the season after breaking his pitching hand, and the incident (when coupled with last year’s suspension) certainly brings question to his maturity.  It’s certainly fair, though there’s no questioning the actual talent.  Pitching at High-A he racked up 82 K over 52.0 IP this past season and owns one of the biggest fastballs in the minor leagues.  His control is a question (5.02 BB/9), though there are reports that the team is working on his delivery to help him find consistency.  If he can get there, the upside of a true ace is there.  The upcoming season is going to be a telling one, but he has the potential to develop into a Top 10 pitching prospect overall.

 

3) Alec Hansen – Right-Handed Pitcher (Previous – #1)
Grade – B (borderline B+/A- upside)
ETA – 2019

All of the attention was going to be put on the “top” two names in the system (though the Chris Sale trade changed all that), but r the team’s 2016 second round pick carried the most upside.  It was only 54.2 IP, but he certainly made an impressive impact in his first taste of professional baseball:

1.32 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.48 GO/AO

Standing at 6’7” and 235 lbs., he throws hard and is an imposing figure on the mound.  With pitchers his size the mechanics are going to be a question, but if he can find consistency he has the upside of a top of the rotation arm.  He’s going to be a name to watch closely, as he can quickly prove to be a diamond in the rough.  His upside is arguably higher than Zack Collins & Carson Fulmer, who carry significant questions.  It’s a bold move to rank him ahead of the two, but until they can answer the questions their upside value appears to be capped.

 

4) Zack Collins – Catcher (Previous – #2)
Grade – B
ETA – 2018

No one is going to argue about his power potential, especially with 13 extra base hits over his first 131 professional AB.  The problem, though, is going to be the swing and miss he showed in his game.  Of course he also showed a good command of the strike zone, so there is going to be hope (the numbers are during his time spent at High-A, which was 153 PA):

  • Strikeout Rate – 25.5%
  • Walk Rate – 21.6%

There’s also a question regarding if he will be able to stick behind the plate or not, with 1B/DH a potential landing spot.  If that’s the case, is a 25-30 HR corner infielder with a ton of strikeouts really a standout prospect?  Hopefully he proves us wrong, but at this point the 2016 first round draft pick carries some significant risk.

 

5) Carson Fulmer – Right-Handed Pitcher (Previous – #3)
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

There are two significant questions hanging over Fulmer, and you can argue that they actually go hand-in-hand:

  1. Can he solve his control issues?
  2. Can he stick as a starter?

If he can’t fix the control (minor league career 4.6 BB/9 over 126.0 IP) he will likely be transitioned to a full-time relief role.  Of course he has the potential to be a lights out closer, though walks and potential home run issues (0.7 HR/9) could prove to be a stumbling block there.  The name is going to catch people’s attention, but there are significant concerns regarding his potential.

 

6) Luis Alexander Basabe – Outfielder (Previous – NR)
Grade – B
ETA –
2018

He needs to cut down on his strikeouts (25.7% at Single-A), but he also showed an intriguing blend of power (12 HR) and speed (25 SB).  His twin brother was traded to the Diamondbacks during the season, but most feel that Boston kept the twin with the higher upside at the time.

 

7) Zack Burdi – Right-Handed Pitcher (Previous – #4)
Grade – B-
ETA – 2017

He was drafted with the thought that he would be closing for the White Sox in the not too distant future.  At this point, having reached Triple-A in his first professional season (he was a 2016 first round draft pick), his time could come extremely quickly.  He does need to fine-tune his control, something he struggled with last season (20 BB over 38.1 IP), but he showed strikeouts (51 K) and groundballs (1.46 GO/AO), which gives him the potential to be among the elite closers in the game.

 

8) Charlie Tilson – Outfielder (Previous – #5)
Grade – C+
ETA – Already Arrived

Acquired from the Cardinals, the fact that Tilson comes in at this point speaks volumes to the state of the system.  While he swiped just 15 bases in 351 AB at Triple-A last season, he had 46 at Double-A in ’15 so there certainly is speed.  He also showed the ability to make consistent contact (12.9% strikeout rate), something fellow prospect Adam Engel struggled with (which is why Tilson got the higher spot on our rankings).

 

The Rest:

9) Adam Engel – Outfielder (Grade C+)

10) Spencer Adams – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C+)

 

Dropped Off:

  • Jordan Stephens – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C+)
  • Jameson Fisher – Outfielder (Grade C+)
  • Trey Michalczewski – Third Baseman (Grade C)

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com, MILB.com

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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