2014 Chicago White Sox

C – Zach Fisher –  LoA Kannapolis/Rookie Great Falls – 22 yo;  – (2012 – 27th round)  –
  • .330 – 8 HR – 48RBi – 29R – .394/.543/.937 slash   –  – PAG: 4.10
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Since we began our UTR Organizational All-Star lists last month, I’ve learned that Jim and I still have a lot to learn about prospects, tracking and organizational philosophy. It’s fascinating that 30 different teams all have, in some variation, different philosophies to reach one common goal: becoming a champion. One element I’ve learned is that organizations sitting near the bottom of the prospect pack lack young, impactful depth. The White Sox are no exception; and catcher is a perfect example. This isn’t to say Fisher, a New Mexico State University grad, isn’t impactful. You don’t post a 4.10 csPAG by accident. However, this season was the 6’2 – 195 lb. lefties third career go-around playing for Rookie League Great Falls and a second stint in LoA Kannapolis. Therefore, I’m taking Fisher with a grain of salt.  After all, 26-year-old organizational catching mates Kevan Smith (3.42 PAG in AA Birmingham) and Josh Phegley (3.71 PAG in AAA Charlotte) are age exclusions from UTR criteria which made Fisher a solid, yet still deserving, choice.  
1B – Danny Hayes – LowA Kannapolis  – 23 yo;  – (2013 – 13th round) –
  •  .283 – 11HR – 75RBi – 65R –  .381/.440/.821 slash  –  – PAG: 3.25
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • It almost seems unfair to the UTR prospects we follow when these kids find themselves looking up the organizational ladder at a budding superstar of the likes of 27 year old first baseman Jose Abreu.  The Cuban defector made a huge mark in his American baseball debut blasting 36 home runs, driving in 107 runs and posting a 3.89 major league PAG score in 145 games. So, guys like Hayes, an Oregon State grad, will toil their way in the minors in hopes of either a trade or a position change. Hayes is a big bodied lefty (6’4 – 210) and provides above average defense at first base. 

2B –Jake Peter  –  Rookie Great Falls/HiA Winston Salem  –  21 yo;  – (2014 – 7th round)

  • .332 –  2HR – 26 RBi – 34R –   .385/.477/.862 slash   – –  csPAG: 3.23
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • During the late portion of the regular season inside the Hitter of the Day features, 2B Eddy Alvarez made several of my daily lists; and what’s fascinating about the Miami, FL native is that he re-entered the baseball world after representing the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics as a short track speed skater. His success on the ice carried over to the diamond as Alvarez posted a csPAG of 4.11, yet,  I have to be realistic.  Alvarez played in only 45 games and will exceed the UTR age limit of 25 heading 2015.  He’ll be an interesting follow moving forward, but on his heels was Jake Peter, a Creighton University alum. Peter can flat-out hit folks. He posted a quietly strong season collecting 80 hits in 60 games, which translates to nearly 190 hits in a full-season league schedule.  The 2014 minor league hits leader was Seattle corner infielder Jordy Lara who collected 177 hits for HiA High Desert and AA Jackson. Peter is a true sleeper and a possible breakout season in HiA could be in the cards for the 6’1 – 185 lb. lefty. 
 
 3B – Trey Michalczewski  – LoA Kannapolis/HiA Winston Salem – 19 yo;  – (2013 – 7th round) –
  • .262 – 10HR –  75RBi – 62R –  7SB –   .340/.403/.743  slash   –  csPAG: 2.97
  • BA/#19  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#9  –  BP-NR
  • As any die-hard White Sox fan can attest, a future infield consisting of top prospects Tim Anderson (SS), Micah Johnson (2B), Marcus Seimien (3B) and first year major league phenom Jose Abreu are simply what dreams are made of.  A nice problem awaits the South Side of Chicago, yet another infielder formed himself an admirable case to morph the above fantastic four into a formidable five.  Michalczewski, a 6’3 – 210 lb. Jenks HS (OK) draftee, posted a 2.41 PAG in his 2013 debut with Rookie League Bristol.  The White Sox weren’t deterred by his struggles, as the switch hitter was competing against players nearly three years his senior.  He was assigned to LoA Kannapolis to begin 2014 and he didn’t disappoint registering a 3.15 PAG in 116 games, yet struggled with a 1.89 PAG for HiA Winston-Salem after a mid-August promotion.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict the 19 year old slugger builds on his “bat-first/power-second” approach and moves up the organizational ladder faster than any hitter in the system this season with another (aggressive) assignment to HiA Winston-Salem. 
SS – Tim Anderson  – HiA Winston-Salem/Rookie Bristol/AA Birmingham – 21 yo; – (2013 – 1st Round) –
  • .301 – 9HR – 40RBi – 57R – 10SB  –   ./.366/.699  slash   – PAG: 3.40
  • BA/#3  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#2  –  BP/#2 
  • As far back as I can remember, Jim and I have occasionally described a select few players, both in our fantasy baseball league and within our UTR work, as “an enigma.”  Now, the top rated Anderson possesses greater skills and pedigree to be considered even close to an enigma, yet his 3.40 csPAG score in conjunction with specific peripheral stats leaves me in awe of how incredible the 1st rounder out of East Central Community College (MS) can actually be. The 21 year old struck out 82 times in 83 games across three levels while drawing only nine walks. That’s a 9:1 K:BB ratio folks. Plus he committed 34 errors in 81 games (a .910 fielding percentage), yet based on his standard production, it’s hard not to get excited over Anderson’s potential. What’s scary is once his plate discipline, patience and glove improve, it’s difficult to fathom how much better he can become.  
LF – Courtney Hawkins  – HiA Winston-Salem –  20 yo; –  (2012 – 1st round)
  • .249 – 19HR – 84RBi – 65R – 11SB  –  .331/.450/.781 slash  – –  PAG: 3.40
  • BA/#6  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#5  –  BP/#3
  • Fact: Hawkins spent the entire 2014 season in HiA Winston-Salem. Now, there’s no problem with a 6’3 – 220 lb. 20-year-old beast trolling the pitcher friendly fields of the Carolina League. However, 2014 was the Corpus Christi, TX natives third consecutive season playing for the Dash, as 2013 was rather ruinous to put it lightly (2.41 PAG) and a respectable, yet organizationally aggressive 3-team csPAG of 2.81 in his 2012 pro debut. Hawkins 2014 PAG might be an indication that his skills are finally beginning to match his impressive makeup and every day positive approach. The 2015 season could be crucial to both Hawkins and the White Sox. He could either continue to prove he’s the player the White Sox drafted 13th overall in 2012 or become that ultimate boom-or-bust prospect.  
CF – Adam Engel – AZL/LoA Kannapolis/HiA Winston-Salem  –  22 yo; – (2013 – 19th round) –
  • .264 – 7HR – 10 3B – 38RBi – 71R – 39 SB  –  .335/.400/.735  slash  – –  csPAG: 3.47
  • BA/#22  –  MLB Pipeline(mid-season)/#15  –  BP-NR
  • Engel is a great example of why the top rounds of the draft are never a guarantee of success. The 6’1 – 210 lb. Louisville native posted a 4.02 PAG in his debut season for Rookie Great Falls. He proceeded to post a three-level csPAG of 3.47 this season yet still finds himself behind system mate Trayce Thompson on the organizational depth chart. I’m not knocking on Thomspon. He’s a toolsy outfielder that plays solid defense in all three spots however his bat hasn’t caught up. In six seasons, the 2009 – 2nd rounder has posted a respectable 3.34 PAG score, however scouting reports suggest Thompson may never hit enough to garner a regular role at the highest level. I believe Engel could slip past the power hitting Thompson. Their production is amazingly similar, but Engel offers more speed and is more selective at the plate. Traits that managers gravitate towards in a center fielder. 
RF – Jason Coats – HiA Winston-Salem/AA Birmingham – 24 yo; – (2012 – 29th round) –
  • .291 – 15HR – 72RBi – 64R  –  .350/.487/.837  slash  –  – PAG: 3.35
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • Listing Courtney Hawkins and Adam Engel as 2/3 of my White Sox Org. All-Stars is a testament to both their 2014 production and dedication to the idea that PAG works. Hawkins and Engel also are part of a bevy of organizationally ranked outfielders yet Jason Coats found himself looking up at this group heading into 2014. His time as a UTR prospect is short-lived as he will turn 25 prior to the 2015 minor league season, but hardcore White Sox fans shouldn’t write off the Texas Christian alumni. Coats ranked first in the entire organization in doubles (38) among UTR-age qualifiers, provides nice pop and average defense in right field. 
 
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
1. RHP James Dykstra – (14) SP/TPS .124
  • 23 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • 4-Time UTR Mention (April 9thJune 13thJuly 10thJuly 27th)
  • When you finish at the bottom of the White Sox’s TPS rankings in 2013, there is no-where to go but up. This is just what Dykstra did in 2014; and if he would have struckout more batters (128 in 152.1 IP), he would have scored near the top of the list. But thats OK, as he’s a really good groundball guy (56% GB rate) that can locate his pitches and keep them down in the zone. He’s throws a 4-pitch mix that includes a 4-seam fastball in the mid-90s.
2. RHP Robin Leyer – (13) SP/TPS .139
  • 21 years old – (LoA Kannapolis)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (May 5thJune 10thAugust 12th)
  • Leyer did very well in mention points, but his stats when pushed through the TPS formula didn’t correlate. This places Leyer in that gray area of projection, as he showed promise in most outings, but had bouts of ineffectiveness that makes him fringy. He is definitely one to place on a watch list as he’s only 21 years old and the day may come when the switch flips. If Leyer can bring his TPS down to the .105 range next year he could have a breakout year. Big question will be where the White Sox place him in 2015, repeating LoA would be the best bet. If next season proves status quo in the rotation, then a move the pen could make Leyer shine.
3. RHP Tyler Danish – (12) SP/TPS .101
  • 19 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 2nd round – 2013
  • Ranked 10th by Baseball America / 7th by MLBPipeline / 5th by Baseball Prospectus
  • Danish put up the right UTR numbers. Twelve mention points which is an equivalent of nearly 50% of his game started and a TPS right at .100. This is to be expected for a 2nd rounder, but reading the reports on Danish just doesn’t have the right-hander a shoe-in for the South Side. Some have comped him to Jake Peavy, while others express concern about his mechanics. What’s to worry right now, as the now 20 year old posted a 2.08 ERA over two levels in 2014. Let’s keep an eye on Danish to see if durability issues surface. 
4. RHP Tony Bucciferro – (12) SP/TPS .148
  • 24 years old – (HiA Winston-Salem / Double-A Birmingham)
  • 14th round – 2012
  • 2014 UTR Breakout
  • UTR Mention (July 20th)
  • Having the lowest FIP  in all of minor league baseball in 2013 placed Bucciferro on my breakout list. I took that bait over a ranked (#29) Francellis Montas who appears below, so I guess it’s proof positive that my system is working. Montas will appear on the top 5 TPS list which lends that he actually had the breakout over Bucciferro, who is not listed. Do not count out the right-hander as he progresses in the upper minors. He shows command and control with all his pitches and can work on both sides of the plate. 
5. RHP Francellis Montas – (8) SP/TPS .081
  • 21 years old – (HiA Carolina / AZL White Sox / Double-A Birmingham)
  • Undrafted – 2009
  • Ranked 29th by Baseball America / 3rd by MLB Pipeline / 10th by Baseball Prospectus
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 22ndMay 27th)
  • Montas may have had something to prove in 2014 after being shipped to Chicago from the Red Sox late in 2013. Montas came from no-where in posting a 5-0 record, a 1.44 ERA in 15 starts. The Red Sox may have known that Montas’ future wouldn’t be a starter and that made him expendable. The Red Sox may not have known that Montas was capable of throwing triple digit heat and that could mean the White Sox have a future closer coming up the ranks. He lacks secondary offerings which could be exposed if his remains in the rotation and begins 2015 at Double-A Birmingham.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
1. LHP Jose Bautista – (7) RP/TPS .075
  • 22 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • Undrafted – 2009
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 5thMay 2nd)
  • Bautista needs to improve his control. He is capable to strikeout batters (11.1 K9), but gave up too many free passes 30 walks in 51.0 innings.
2. LHP Sean Hagan – (6) RP/TPS .138
  • 23 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 31st round – 2013
  • Must be some correlation being mentioned as a UTR and the height of a pitcher. Hagan checks in at 6′ 6″ 215 lbs. Seems like a lot of tall, big bodied hurlers keep making my list.
3. RHP Kyle Hansen – (6) RP/TPS .090
  • 23 years old – (HiA Winston-Salem / Double-A Birmingham)
  • 6th round – 2012
  • Another big framed relief pitcher for the Sox. Hansen comes in at 6′ 8″ 200 lbs. Was a  starter in 2013 with LoA Kannapolis where he went 6-9 with a 4.10 ERA. He displayed some control and missed bats with a 3.8 K/BB ratio (27 BB and 107 K’s in 96.2 innings). An attempt from the bullpen was so-so in 2014, but he does have a high 90’s fastball with some sink.
 
 
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers  
 
1. LHP Kevin Escoria – cSR/TPS .067
  • 19 years old – (DSL White Sox)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 16thJuly 29th)
  • Solid season repeating the DSL with a 1.92 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 56.1 innings over 13 appearances (12 starts). Should be in the States in 2015 being that he’ll turns 20 years old in January.
2. RHP Jaider Rocha – cSR/TPS .072
  • 21 years old – (DSL White Sox)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • UTR Mention (August 7th)
  • Rotation-mate with Escorcia, Rocha was in his third year in the DSL, but only second season on the mound. Slight improvement over 2013, but age is becoming a factor in any development. 
3. LHP Andre Wheeler – cSR/TPS .074
  • 22 years old – (LoA Kannapolis)
  • 15th round – 2013
  • UTR Mention (May 11th)
  • Dodgers drafted Wheeler from high school as an outfielder in 2010, but he didn’t sign and went to Texas Tech. Drafted again in 2013, Wheeler made his main focus to become a pitcher and was successful over two levels after the draft from the bullpen. With LoA Kannapolis in 2014, his skills translated in the starters role with eight relief appearances. He does project as a future LOOGY.
4. RHP Luis Martinez – cSR/TPS .078
  • 19 years old – (AZL White Sox / Pioneer Great Falls)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • UTR Mention (July 23rd)
  • Signed a deal for $250,000 when he was 17 years old in 2011, so there must be something with Martinez. Spent the 2013 season on the DL for an undisclosed injury. Had ordinary numbers this past season over two rookie levels. His 9.6 K/9 rate could offer consideration for a breakout for a now healthy Martinez in 2015
5. RHP Francellis Montas – (8) SP/TPS .081
  • 21 years old – (HiA Carolina / AZL White Sox / Double-A Birmingham)
  • Undrafted – 2009
  • Ranked 29th by Baseball America / 3rd by MLB Pipeline / 10th by Baseball Prospectus
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 22ndMay 27th)
  • Montas may have had something to prove in 2014 after being ship to Chicago from the Red Sox late in 2013. Montas came from no-where in posting a 5-0 record, a 1.44 ERA in 15 starts. The Red Sox may have known that Montas’ future wouldn’t be a starter and that made him expendable. The Red Sox may have not known that Montas was capable of throwing triple digit heat and that could mean the White Sox have a future closer coming up the ranks. He lacks secondary offerings which could be exposed if his remains in the rotation and begin 2015 at Double-A Birmingham.
 
 
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP Mike Gomez – RP/TPS .048
  • 22 years old – (AZL White Sox)
  • 13th round – 2014
  • Gomez made 13 appearances and posted a 1.27 ERA in 21 innings. He set the career record for saves during his collegiate days at Florida International.
2. RHP Tanner Mendonca – RP/TPS .049
  • 22 years old – (AZL White Sox / LoA Kannapolis)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • UTR Mention (August 7th)
  • Drafted in the 17th round in 2013 by the Twins, they had short leash on the right-hander as he was released before the 2014 season. When it comes to possible under the radar pitcher, you have to display patience. Mendonca looked great out of the bullpen with the AZL White Sox and earned a promotion to LoA Kannapolis where he made only 3 appearances.He struck out 47 over 25.1 innings. 
3. LHP Tanner Banks – RP/TPS .059
  • 22 years old – (AZL White Sox / LoA Kannapolis)
  • 18th round – 2014
  • Another possible breakout candidate for 2015. Banks only surrendered four earned runs and recorded a K/BB rate of 33:6 over 24.1 innings.
 2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
SP Tony Bucciferro –  It just feels good to have your pre-season breakout picks appear on your post-season list (see above). Bucciferro will move away from my under the radar tracking, but should remain barring hitting the wall at Double-A. Grade C+
 
RP Adam Lopez – Lopez was just behind Bucciferro in posting an outstanding FIP in 2013 (2.14). He was coming off an even more outstanding 2012 season, though its was a small sample. I predicted big things for Lopez for 2014, but it never came to be, as he ended up on the DL for most the season. He was slated to return in June but it wasn’t until mid-August before making an appearance in the AZL. This really sets back his development as he turns 25 before the season starts. Grade DL

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