Zack Collins

White Sox prospect turnaround could give them baseball's No. 1 farm system

White Sox prospect turnaround could give them baseball's No. 1 farm system

The White Sox farm system has undergone such a dramatic overhaul that Baseball America’s newest organization top-10 list features only one holdover from November.

The team’s additions in the past eight months through massive trades and the signing of Luis Robert have been so overwhelming that the publication is on the cusp of naming the White Sox farm system as the best in baseball. Baseball America editor J.J. Cooper said on Tuesday that he believes the White Sox will hold that title after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

“It is crazy how much better it is than it was a couple of years ago,” Cooper said. “It would not surprise me when we get past the trade deadline if the White Sox end up having the best farm system in the game right now.”

As it stands, the publication thinks the Atlanta Braves still possess the best farm system in baseball. That organization currently features nine top-100 prospects, while the White Sox have seven on Baseball America’s list. The Braves also have significant depth in their favor, too.

But the White Sox have made up massive ground since the start of the winter meetings, adding 11 prospects in the trades for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana. Of the farmhands holding the top 10 spots on BA’s current White Sox list, Yoan Moncada (No. 1), Eloy Jimenez (No. 2), Michael Kopech (No. 3), Reynaldo Lopez (fifth), Lucas Giolito (sixth), Dylan Cease (seventh) and Dane Dunning (ninth) all were acquired in trades.

First-round pick Jake Burger holds the No. 8 spot, while pitcher Alec Hansen, who's ranked 10th, is the only holdover from November. Robert, who is ranked fourth, was signed in May for $26 million. That influx of talent has displaced November’s No. 1, Zack Collins, and a slew of others, including 2015 first-rounder Carson Fulmer, who was once third.

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“In a normal year, Collins would be a top 10 for the White Sox,” Cooper said. “But, this isn’t normal. Gavin Sheets would be an easy top 10 if this was normal. Carson Fulmer — the star has dimmed on Carson Fulmer some. But at the same time, if we’re talking about the White Sox system of five years ago, we’d be talking about Carson Fulmer as the No. 3 or No. 4 prospect. It has not turned out how either he or the White Sox would have liked, but you still at least have hope he’s going to put something together out of all this. But now that makes him a guy who’s not a top-10 prospect for them and that’s a pretty dramatic difference where the White Sox have been for really much of this century before this.”

Jimenez is the latest top-25 player to join the organization as Baseball America has him rated as the No. 5 overall prospect. The publication also has Cease, who was acquired with Jimenez last Thursday in a trade for Quintana, rated No. 63 overall. Cease made his organizational debut on Monday night, allowing two earned runs and four hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings at Single-A Kannapolis.

“They've got a ton of talent, so it's really exciting,” Cease said of the White Sox. “Eloy is one of the most talented players I've ever seen, especially the fact he's only, I think, 20. I expect he's going to do really big things. For me, I think I just want to go out there and keep learning, keep getting better. I don't know exactly when any of that would be. But I know if I keep trusting everything and getting better, hopefully it's sooner rather than later. Like I said, I'm just looking forward to keep playing and competing.”

Cooper is looking forward to what else Rick Hahn and the White Sox can pull off over the next 13 days. Todd Frazier looks like a good fit for the Boston Red Sox, and David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle have a lot of value if they’re traded. Cooper thought Robertson might bring back the minor league equivalent of what the Pittsburgh Pirates received for Mark Melancon. Pitcher Felipe Rivero, one of two players acquired from Washington, has a 0.72 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season. The White Sox also can offer value in outfielder Melky Cabrera and reliever Anthony Swarzak.

“I can see the White Sox getting even better than it is right now,” Cooper said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez wants 'to be one of the best players in baseball'

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez wants 'to be one of the best players in baseball'

The White Sox centerpiece in the Jose Quintana trade, Eloy Jimenez, came on the podcast to talk with Chuck Garfien about what it was like being traded from the Cubs to the White Sox, his approach as a hitter and why he wants to be as good as Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. He explains how he learned English, why it's important to him, and how far away he thinks he is from playing in the major leagues.

Then Garfien speaks with Jimenez' new manager, Willie Harris who is the skipper for the Winston-Salem Dash. Harris talks about his impressions of Jimenez, as well as some of the White Sox top prospects he manages: Zack Collins, Dane Dunning, Luis Basabe and Alec Hansen. Later, CSN's Chris Kamka joins the podcast to talk about the latest Todd Frazier trade rumors. Did a medical issue with a Red Sox prospect stall a possible Frazier trade to Boston? That and more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast. 

Check out the entire podcast here:

20/20 vision: Dreaming of roster for White Sox next World Series contender

20/20 vision: Dreaming of roster for White Sox next World Series contender

Be afraid, baseball world. Be very afraid.

While "Winter is coming" in this weekend's Game of Thrones series opener, the White Sox version of the iconic phrase from one of television's most popular shows will be coming to a baseball diamond near you in a few years.

The White Sox farm system has gone from worst to first in the span of 15 months.

And it's only going to continue to get stronger as the White sox have a few more trade chips to sell off and they'll have a Top 5 draft pick in 2018. The organization will also have a few briefcases stuffed with cash to toss around to the loaded 2019 free agent class.

As most White Sox fans pick their jaws up from the floor when looking at MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospect list, we've done our best to construct the optimal White Sox lineup for the 2020 season.

LINEUP

1. Yoan Moncada (2B)

The top prospect in MLB is a five-tool talent who possesses the on-base skills (.385 in Triple-A) and speed (16 stolen bases in 2017) to set the table for the White Sox for the next decade.

2. Manny Machado (3B)

If the White Sox are going to throw big money at a free agent in 2019, Machado could be the guy. His age (27) when he hits the open market is right around the White Sox window of contention.

3. Eloy Jimenez (LF)

Some scouts believe Jimenez could be better than Moncada. His power and ability to hit for a high average make him an ideal candidate to hit No. 3 for the White Sox in 2020.

4. Jose Abreu (DH)

Abreu's leadership will still be imperative for the White Sox when they're ready to contend.

5. Luis Robert (CF)

Robert is the ultimate wild card in the White Sox system as he's yet to show off his skills in the United States. Another five-tool talent, Robert's upside is off the charts.

6. Avisail Garcia (RF)

Coming off his first All-Star appearance, Garcia could be an integral part of the White Sox future or the team could sell high on his 2017 season for more high-end young talent.

7. Zack Collins (C)

Collins low batting average (.220) and high strikeout numbers (90) in Single-A are alarming, but he's still only 22 years old, and his defensive abilities behind the plate have improved immensely since the White Sox drafted him. 

8. Jake Burger (1B)

Burger's advanced bat and power will have him moving up the pipeline. It wouldn't be surprising to see him shift from third base to first base by the time he's ready to join the majors.

9. Tim Anderson (SS)

The first piece of the rebuild has gotten off to a bad start in 2017, but he's still an important part of the young core.

BENCH

Nicky Delmonico (OF), Adam Engel (OF), Yolmer Sanchez (IF), Kevan Smith (C), Gavin Sheets (1B)

Engel is a must-have on the bench for the White Sox as he could be an important late-inning defensive replacement at any position in the outfield. Delmonico's left-handed bat and pop give him the nudge over a few other White Sox minor league outfielders. Sanchez can play all over the diamond and would be the perfect utility infielder for a contender. Smith and Sheets round out the rest of the White Sox bench.

ROTATION

1. Carlos Rodon

2. Michael Kopech 

3. Alec Hansen

4. Lucas Giolito

5. Dane Dunning

While he hasn't shown consistency thus far in the majors, Rodon — the only holdover from the current White Sox rotation — has the dynamite stuff to be the ace. Kopech, who has topped out at 105 MPH, has the highest upside of any pitching prospect in the minors and if his command continues to improve he could challenge Rodon for the top spot in the rotation. The last three spots in the rotation could be a toss up because the White Sox have about 15 arms that are worthy of a starting spot. No matter how it shakes out, the White Sox project to have a strong starting five. Hansen, Giolito and Dunning — our projected No. 3, 4 and 5 starters for the 2020 South Siders — have the upside of being No. 2 starters if they were on a handful of other clubs. 

BULLPEN

Zack Burdi (closer), Andrew Miller (SU), Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease, Carson Fulmer, Bernardo Flores

Burdi possesses an 80-grade fastball (the highest possible rating) and a potential wipeout slider. If Burdi can bounce back from potential Tommy John Surgery, he'll likely still be the White Sox closer of the future. Instead of inserting one of their young pitchers in the setup role, the White Sox will throw some money at the best reliever in baseball, Andrew Miller, because why the hell not? Lopez' fastball which can reach 100 and plus-curveball would be devastating in a 7th inning role before the White Sox turn the ball over to Miller and Burdi. Cease and Fulmer round things out.