Following recent trades, the White Sox now have 10 of the top 100 prospects in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com. This week, I thought I’d do an introduction to these players who represent the future of a team in transition.
Yoan Moncada, 2B (MLB Rank: 1)
22 years old, Cuban; Bats: S, Throws: R
Moncada Was paid a $31.5 million signing bonus by Boston when they signed him out of Cuba in 2015, an acknowledgment of the potential they saw in him. He made his MLB debut last September for Boston and got 4 hits in 19 at bats (.211). Moncada was the primary piece the White Sox received in the Chris Sale trade this past offseason, and just made his debut for the Sox on Wednesday.
Before getting called up he had posted a .285 average with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs for AAA Charlotte.
A couple of weeks ago he represented Team World at the 2017 All Star Futures Game.
The Sox are hoping him and Tim Anderson (2013 first round pick, made Sox debut last year) can be a long-term middle infield partnership. That becoming a reality may heavily rely on Anderson’s defense which has been poor this season (has the most errors in the MLB).
For now Moncada has played second base in his first few Sox games, but he can play third as well which may be needed depending on how Tyler Saladino and Matt Davidson perform defensively. It’s no question though that he’s going to see plenty of playing time, as GM Rick Hahn put it “we’re not bringing him here to sit.”
Perhaps the most encouraging sign in Moncada’s first three games for the Sox is that he hasn’t struck out yet; one of the primary criticisms of Moncada has been that he strikes out too much.
Finally, a fun fact he revealed when he was traded: he used to average eating around 85 Twinkies a week and once ate 200 in a week. If he’s as good as baseball as eating Twinkies he’ll be just fine.
Eloy Jimenez, OF (8)
20 years old, Dominican; Bats: R, Throws: R
Jimenez was signed by the Cubs in 2013 as the top international prospect at the time. He was acquired from Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade and was the Cubs’ #1 prospect. According to MLB Pipeline his ETA in the majors is 2019.
He was selected last year for the All Star Futures Game, as well as this year as a teammate of Moncada, and also won Midwest League MVP as a member of the South Bend Cubs, hitting .329 with 14 HR and 81 RBI.
Generally he plays left field, which would work out well if the Sox are able to keep All Star right fielder Avi Garcia long enough for all of these guys to develop.
As I mentioned last week, he did this in a minor league home run derby earlier this summer.
Michael Kopech, RHP (11)
21 years old, American
Kopech was drafted by the Red Sox in 2014, and traded to White Sox this past offseason along with Moncada as part of the Chris Sale trade. He has a fastball that has reached 105 mph and the scouting take is that whether his future is as a starter or reliever will come down to his control (which isn’t great right now). He has a 3.84 ERA this year with a 5-6 record in AA with the Birmingham Barons along with 106 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched (~11 K/9 !) and a K/BB ratio just under 2. MLB Pipeline believes we’ll see him in a White Sox uniform some time next season.
There have been some sketchy points in his young career, including being banned for 50 games in 2015 after testing positive for PEDs. He then missed the first half of 2016 have breaking his hand in fight with a teammate during spring training.
He’s a self-described gym rat, his social media depicting an addition to lifting and working out. I guess that’s a better outlet for his anger/intensity than punching other players.
He played against Moncada and Jimenez as a member of Team USA at the Futures Game, during which he struck out Moncada with a 101 mph fastball.
Also, here’s a video of him throwing a ball 110 mph, so that’s fun.
Luis Robert, OF (23)
19 years old, Cuban, Bats: R, Throws: R
Robert was signed this summer by White Sox with a $26 million signing bonus, having been ranked as the #1 international free agent at the time of his signing. He is Currently playing as a member of the Sox’ Dominican Summer League team, and is projected to reach the majors in 2020. His performance this summer will help decide which White Sox affiliate he is sent to next season, although if I had to guess it’ll be class A Winston-Salem.
Robert has credited the presentation from Cuban Sox players(including Jose Abreu & Moncada) along with manager Rick Renteria (a phrase that still doesn’t feel right) in deciding to sign with the Sox, although I’m sure 26 million doesn’t hurt either.
He’s primarily a center-fielder, and ideally he could one day play between Jimenez and Garcia.
The kid probably needs to put on some muscle, listed at just 185 lbs despite being 6’ 3”.
The only notable thing about his statline from his 17 games in the Dominican Summer League is he’s walked 17 times which means his OBP is 224 points higher than his batting average.
Lucas Giolito, RHP (28)
23 years old, American
Giolito was a projected #1 overall pick in high school but had Tommy John surgery his senior year. He made his major league debut last year for the Nationals and was acquired as part of the Adam Eaton trade. He’s expected to make his first appearance for the Sox later this season. He’s big, Listed at 6’ 6”, and is capable of hitting 100 mph with his fastball.
Giolito is struggling a bit this year with a 5.00 ERA (had a 2.17 when the Nationals called him up last year) but is averaging over a strikeout an inning. The highlight of his season in Charlotte came on May 25th when he threw a no hitter.
It’s believed that he has potential to be a consistent MLB starter but he’s going to need to show more consistency at the AAA level to get a call-up
Blake Rutherford, OF (30)
20 years old, American; Bats: L, Throws: R
Rutherford was drafted #18 overall by Yankees last year and was given the highest signing bonus the Yankees had ever given a non-pitcher. Acquired as part of the Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle trade, he isn’t projected to reach the majors until 2020. A phrase that keeps getting thrown around to describe him is that he’s “a more athletic David Justice.”
He completes a trio of highly rated outfield prospects with Robert and Jimenez
Previous achievements include being a member of USA U-18 team that won the 2015 Baseball World Cup.
The Yankees are similarly loaded with top prospects, and have one of the best farm systems in baseball, so while Rutherford was one of their top prospects it’s understandable why the Yankees were comfortable dealing him.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP (36)
23 years old, Dominican
Lopez was signed by Nationals back in 2012 and traded to White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade. He made 6 starts and 5 relief appearances for the Nationals last year going 5-3. He had a season high 12 strikeouts in a start last week, and in each of his last five starts he’s gone at least 6 innings and allowed 2 runs or fewer. These recent performances are fueling speculation that his White Sox debut isn’t far away (probably within the next couple of weeks), and with Moncada having been called up he’s probably the next player on this list who will get a(nother) chance in the big leagues.
Carson Fulmer, RHP (59)
23 years old, American
Fulmer was the 8th overall pick by White Sox in 2015 Draft after being the ace of Vanderbilt pitching staff that won 2014 College World Series. This time last year, Fulmer was the Sox top prospect and made 8 relief appearances for the Sox. It didn’t go well, as he posted an ERA of 8.49. This season in Charlotte has been very meh for Fulmer, going 6-6 as a starter with a 5.42 ERA. Personally, I think his future is as a reliever and rather than continue starting games in AAA and then throw him in a major-league bullpen they should have him transition to a relief role in the minors first.
Dylan Cease, RHP (63)
21 years old, American
Cease was a 6th round draft pick of the Cubs in 2014, and was acquired along with Jimenez in the Jose Quintana trade. Like Giolito, he was a projected first round pick before injuring his throwing elbow his senior of high school. Like the other pitchers on this list he also has a fastball capable of hitting triple digits. Cease posted a 2.79 ERA in 13 starts this season for the South Bend Cubs with 13 K/9 and almost 3 times as many Ks and BBs, having perhaps the best season of any of the players on this list. That said, he’s putting up those numbers in low-A ball, and isn’t expected to reach the majors until 2019.
Zack Collins, C (68)
22 year old American; Bats: L, Throws: R
Collins was the Sox first round pick in 2016 after helping the Miami Hurricanes reach the College World Series in 2015 and leading all of Division 1 baseball in 2016 in walks. He’s hitting just .218 for Winston-Salem this season, but still has an OPS over .800 thanks to a lot of walks, 15 HR and 41 RBI (basically he either strikes out (101 in 84 games), walks, or gets a hit that drives in a run). He can also play first base, but given how lacking the Sox are in the catcher department at the moment hopefully he can achieve his potential there. He’s predicted to get a call up to the big leagues some time next year, although he has a long way to go between high-A ball and the majors.
Credit to MLB Pipline and Baseball Reference for player info and statistics.
This Week In….
Sports (all soccer this week)
The Champions of England kicked off their preseason this week with a 3-0 win over Arsenal, which always feels good even if it doesn’t mean anything. However, the biggest news of the week for the team was off the field. As the club continue to look for a way to get rid of malcontent Diego Costa, they signed striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for a club-record 75 million pounds. The Spaniard decided he wanted to leave Madrid after struggling for playing time behind a starting front line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale. Speaking of Chelsea Spaniards, Pedro was injured during the Arsenal game after getting hit in the head by the fists and knee of Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina. He suffered a concussion as well as “facial injury,” as he was seen with blood in his mouth when walking off the field. Losing another winger poses a problem, as Eden Hazard is still recovering from a broken ankle and isn’t expected to be game ready until September. Questions also remain whether the Blues will make any more transactions before the season begins. They may look to add depth at wing-back to aid/compete with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso. Additionally, the fate of midfielder Nemanja Matic is unknown amid speculation that he may be sold to Manchester United after Chelsea’s purchase of Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco.
The Premier League season kicks off August 11th.
US Men’s National Team
The USA advanced to the Gold Cup final on Saturday night with a 2-0 win over Costa Rica, in which Clint Dempsey tied Landon Donovan for most goals in USMNT history. While the US have reached the final they’ve been far from convincing, particularly in the quarterfinals when they were lucky to get by El Salvador, although to be fair El Salvador were lucky not to have multiple players ejected for biting and nipple-twisting US players. This hasn’t been the USA’s A-team (all the players who play for European clubs are not there), but the expectation is still to win this tournament. They’ll face the winner of Mexico-Jamaica in the final on Wednesday night.
The Fire lost for the first time in 12 games on Saturday, unable to capitalize of being up a man for the majority of a game at Yankee Stadium against NYC FC. The better news of the week came with the announcement of the full roster for the MLS All Star Game, which was announced earlier this week and includes four Fire players, the most of any team. Nemanja Nikolic, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty, and Johan Kappelhof will all represent the MLS against Real Madrid next week at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Fire haven’t lost a game in Chicago all season, so hopefully they can carry that through for the All Stars.
This week’s playlist includes the new album from Foster the People as well as the debut album from Declan McKenna:
*** Playlist has been changed since original post date ***