Coming into the offseason, the White Sox farm system was incredibly thin in the starting pitching department. First, the Sox added Nestor Molina and now, they've added Simon Castro and Pedro Fernandez.
Castro comes to the White Sox as the more highly-regarded pitcher -- or, at least, he was nine months ago. In 25 23 innings at Triple-A in 2011, Castro walked 18 with 21 strikeouts while allowing five home runs. He also made two starts in Triple-A in 2010, so his overall totals at the highest level of the minors: 24 walks, 27 strikeouts and six home runs allowed in 37 innings.
That's not a good enough amount of innings to make any definitive conclusions, but those numbers would indicate Castro hit a wall against Triple-A competition.
He was good with Double-A San Antonio in 2011, posting a 1673 walk-to-strikeout ratio while allowing nine home runs in 89 13 innings. Castro has talent, though, and the White Sox organization has an excellent track record of developing starting pitching talent (unfortunately, most of that talent is pitching elsewhere now).
Castro will be 24 three days after opening day 2012, which means another season of struggles in Triple-A will probably annihilate any sort top prospect status.
Hernandez, like Castro, succeeded below Triple-A last season but was torched when he got to Tucson. Between high-A and Double-A, Hernandez walked 16 with 87 strikeouts and seven home runs allowed in 98 innings.
The 22-year-old lefty doesn't have a prototypical frame, standing at 5-foot-10.
Both Castro and Hernandez should join Molina in Triple-A Charlotte's starting rotation. Hernandez would be the most likely to begin the year at Double-A, but neither pitcher has a lot left to prove at that level. Triple-A is where they need to prove something.
While neither have much momentum coming into 2012, both have had previous success keyed by low walk rates. And it bears repeating: the Sox have a good track record when it comes to developing pitching talent, specifically, pitching talent that has had success at Double-A or higher.
The system finally has starting pitching talent that's graduated from Single-A. How Molina, Castro and Hernandez develop will determine if that aforementioned reputation holds up.