1/30/14

Future Sox - Top White Sox Prospects - 2014

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1. Jose Abreu, 1B     [NEW]
  • Signed from Cuba (via Haiti, DR) this offseason
The White Sox beat out numerous other teams to sign Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu this offseason to a 6-year, $68M contract.  The about-to-be 27 year old first baseman has torn up Cuban league pitching, as displayed in this video game-like stat line from his 2010-2011 Serie Nacional campaign: .453/.597/.986, 33 HR in 66 games.  But what do those cartoonish numbers translate to in major league baseball?  A formula developed by Baseball Prospectus writer Clay Davenport tries to apply some science to the translation, and was pretty accurate on Yasiel Puig.  Abreu's Davenport projection: .321/.446/.660, which is in the territory of Frank Thomas in his prime.  That seems outlandish, but the picture it paints is that his ceiling could be very high.  Abreu rates 70 to 80 on the power scale, and at 6'2" and 250 pounds he's a big man who is purely a 1B or DH.  There is no speed there, and reports on his defense are mixed and sparse.  Early reports from the Sox' recent mini-camp for young players were very positive.  Abreu is the White Sox 1B of the present and future and is unlikely to see the Sox minor league system.  For an in-depth look at Abreu's look at the plate, see this detailed Fangraphs GIF-based deconstruction.
2. Erik Johnson, RHP     [Previous Rank: 1st, -1]
  • Drafted 2nd Round in 2011
Johnson falls out the #1 slot due only to the presence of Abreu, and remains the best internally raised prospect in the White Sox system.  Much as he did the previous year, the right-hander blew through minor leaguer hitters at two levels in 2013.  In 14 games for Birmingham (AA) he posted a 2.23 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, .189 BAA, 2.2 BB/9 and 7.9 K/9 in 14 starts.  Then promoted to Charlotte (AAA), he gave up even fewer runs and struck out yet more batters: 1.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .209 BAA, 3.0 BB/9, 8.9 K/9.  That earned Erik a promotion to the majors, a scant 2+ years after being drafted.  In 5 starts for the White Sox, Johnson kept the earned runs down (3.25 ERA) and the walks under control (3.6 BB/9), but he gave up some hits (.281 BAA) and the strikeouts came down (5.9 K/9).  This Cal product's success rests with a low to mid 90's four-seamer, two-seamer, a plus slider, above average change and a curveball.  If you want a deeper look into his approach, read our interview with him here.  Johnson is virtually assured a rotation spot in Chicago to open 2014.
3. Matt Davidson, 3B     [NEW]
  • Drafted 1st Round Supplemental (35th overall) in 2009
Acquired in December in exchange for closer Addison Reed, Davidson immediately jumps to near the top of the list.  This third baseman's plus power is obvious in the 20+ home runs in each of the past three seasons, and in 2012 he was named by Baseball America as the best power hitter in the Diamondbacks organization and best power prospect in the Southern League (AA).  An ability to draw walks (and a knack for getting hit by pitches) has allowed him to compile a .351 OBP in the minors with a .268 average.  Last season after putting up a .280/.350/.481 line at AAA Reno (in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL), Davidson was promoted to MLB and put up a .237/.333/.434 line in 87 plate appearances, but he also struck out 24 times.  Therein lies one of the two question marks with this prospect - will he make enough contact to use that power?  After posting a reasonable K/PA rate in 2012 at AA (21.9%), the rate spiked to 26.8% in AAA last season and 27.6% in that short MLB stint.  The other question with Davidson is about his defensive work at the hot corner, where scouts have noted improvement in footwork but still have concerns about the glove.  Matt will be battling Conor Gillaspie for the starting 3B job in Chicago come spring, but could end up in AAA Charlotte (at least to start) for his age 23 season.
the rest of the list...

http://www.chicagonow.com/future-sox/2014/01/top-white-sox-prospects-2014-pre-season-top-25/

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