It's the season for prospect lists, and Friday, Marc Hulet at FanGraphs rolled out his top 15 White Sox prospect rankings complete with Dylan Axelrod at No. 5.
That's as high as I've seen Axelrod on any list. Hulet comes to this prediction about Axelrod's potential:
"Axelrod has a modest ceiling but his four-pitch mix, control and pitchability should allow him to succeed as a No. 4 starter especially on a second division team. He may eventually wind up in the bullpen as a middle reliever if he finds his way onto a playoff-caliber team."
Essentially, Axelrod could crack a rotation on a non-contender. That's both good and bad news for the White Sox -- the bad news is, they're shaping up to be a non-contender this season. The good news is that Axelrod maybe could give them some quality innings.
Axelrod was actually pretty darn good last year in the minors for the Sox, doing a great job limiting home runs and walks while striking out about eight batters per nine innings.
The biggest concern I have is his lack of a third pitch right now -- in 18 23 innings with the Sox last September, he threw a fastball or slider on over 90 percent of his offerings. If he can develop a changeup and occasionally mix in a curveball to keep hitters off balance, then maybe he'll have a shot at sticking in the Sox rotation. If not, he could be a somewhat reliable long relieverspot-starter.
Axelrod's role on the 2012 Sox is contingent on a trade of John Danks or Gavin Floyd, though, or an injury to one of the current starters. It's also contingent on him beating out Zach Stewart for whatever fill-in starts trickle down.
The one thing to keep in mind with Axelrod's placing on this top 15 list, though: He probably doesn't sniff the top 10, maybe not even top 15 in most other organizational prospect lists.