The early returns on last year's White Sox draft picks were pretty good, but the 2014 season carries far more importance for that crop of prospects.
Tim Anderson, Tyler Danish and Jacob May were the team's first three picks in 2013, and each landed on MLB.com's list of the top 20 prospects in the White Sox system. Anderson and May made the cut for Baseball America's top 10 White Sox prospects list, too. But the White Sox won't know a whole lot about those guys until they get a full season under their collective belts.
"It's not really fair to assess these kids when we sign them and bring them in because of the grind of getting acclimated to pro ball — the bus rides, the day in and day out grind of games and your pregame and weights and conditioning," director of player development Nick Capra said. "These guys are going to go through a down time, we see it with all these guys coming in. It's really not fair to assess them, but you can see a lot of good things at an early stage with these kids."
Anderson, the 17th overall pick last year, posted a .277/.348/.363 slash line with 24 steals and a 23/78 walk-to-strikeout ratio in about a half-season of plate appearances with Class-A Kannapolis in 2013. He'll be bumped up the ladder to Class-A Winston-Salem to begin 2014, and Capra thinks the 20-year-old shortstop mainly needs baseball experience given his basketball background.
"His presence on the field means a lot," Capra said. "You can tell he's a baseball rat, he studies, he learns, he listens, he picks people's brains. He's trying to figure it out as quick as he can."
Danish doesn't have the kind of delivery expected from a starting pitcher — it's a herky-jerky, three-quarters motion — and he excelled pitching in relief between rookie ball and Class-A in his professional debut. But Capra said Danish will be a starter in 2014, and he raved about the 19-year-old's athleticism and baseball intangibles.
"He's grown up, he's very mature for his age," Capra said. "It's just getting him professional experience. That's going to tell us how fast he's going to come."
As for May, Capra said he was a pleasant surprise (.831 OPS, 24 steals, 23 BB/49 K) and will begin 2014 at either Class-A Kannapolis or Winston-Salem.