Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2013 MLB Draft Notes: Jonathon Crawford

Florida RHP Jonathon Crawford (onlygators.com_
I tuned into one of my plus sports channels to watch the Florida Gators take on the Miami Hurricanes in the first of three games in Gainesville.  My focus was on Florida RHP Jonathon Crawford who is expected to be one of the first pitchers taken in the 2013 MLB Draft.  Below are my notes on Crawford's play against the Canes on this Friday night.

First Inning:  Right off the bat, what stood out is Crawford's pitching delivery.  It isn't smooth by any means, but as John Sickels stated "its effective."  Crawford brings it back and then quickly snaps it off.  The first Miami batter led off with a double down the first base line.  He then walked the third batter in four pitches.  His best pitch of the inning came later as he threw a slider that the hitter rolled over which the Gators turned into a double-play to end the inning.

Second Inning:  Got the first hitter out in front of a slider for an easy play for the first out.  He then registered his first strikeout by getting the hitter to whiff on a sinking FB.  Just missed on a FB for ball four.  The next Miami batter then loaded the bases after getting a hit on a 1-2 FB right down the pipe.  With the bases juice, Crawford threw his slider multiple times trying to get the hitter to chase and then got him to ground out after throwing it in.  Not a perfect inning, but he got out of it.

Third Inning:  Showed nice athleticism and mobility in back-to-back plays.  First, a speedy lefty laid down a bunt which he quickly got to and make a solid throw to get the out.  The next Cane hit a chopper back to the middle which he got to get the last out.  Very quick work; only 9 pitches.

Fourth Inning:  Crawford threw a FB inside which a hitter smoked into LF.  Crawford then allowed a monster HR after throwing pretty much the same pitch (a slider right over the plate) in consecutive pitches.  His slider was really working for him throughout the game, but he threw it one too many times in this situation.  He followed that up with a comebacker up the middle and then a walk.  Not a good inning for Crawford and the Canes lead 2-0.

Fifth Inning:  The first hitter got on base and then the second hitter took another FB inside to LF.  The next batter then laid down a bunt and Crawford made another impressive defensive play, throwing out the runner at 3B.  He got the next hitter on three pitches after  making him chase a really nice slider down and away; one of his best of the night.  He managed to pitch out of the quick jam.

Sixth Inning:  In a full count, Crawford threw an electric fastball right by the Miami hitter.  A baserunning error causes the 3rd out.  And with that, Crawford's night was done.  His stats from this performance: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB.

Overall Thoughts:  Crawford is expected to be a first-round pick and maybe even a top 10 selection.  Before the game, the biggest thing I read about was Crawford's mid-90s FB.  I wasn't in Gainesville and the broadcast didn't show the speeds, but you could just tell how much velocity was on Crawford's FB which was freezing hitters early in ABs, getting him ahead in a lot of counts.  I was also pretty impressed how hard and sharp his slider was.  Also, Crawford showed great athleticism by quickly getting off of the mound and making a couple of nice defensive plays.  Crawford struggled some at times with control and I didn't see much of a third pitch, but if he can improve on those factors, he will possess a really, really good fastball and a plus-slider to become a very solid pitcher in the major leagues.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

White Sox Prospects: Who's Hot, Who's Not

Jared Mitchell (dashboard.mlblogs.com)
With the White Sox already with several games under their belt, I decided to take a look at what prospects are doing well and who are not in the first couple of games.  Remember, it has only been nine games so far, so take this with a grain of salt.

Who's Hot:

Jared Mitchell:  I haven't been as high on Mitchell as some others in the past, but he is off to a great start in Arizona.  So far in 6 games, Mitchell's stats are 5-12, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, and 3 SO.  Mitchell has proven me wrong so far this spring.

Marcus Semien:  Semien's stats from the first couple of games: 4-8, HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, and 1 SO.

Nestor Molina and Simon Castro:  The two have combined to pitch 14 scoreless innings while only giving up 5 hits and a single walk.  This is including today's game where Castro pitched a pair of innings while striking out 5.

Who's Not:

Trayce Thompson:  Maybe the second-best Sox prospect is hitless so far in 8 ABs.

Keenyn Walker:  The speedy Walker is 4 for 15, which is average.  The more troubling stat is his 7 SOs; which is just under a 50% k-rate.

Erik Johnson:  The top White Sox pitching prospect according to most hasn't been so hot in limited time.  In 4.1 IP, Johnson has given up 6 ER on 9 H.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 MLB Draft Notes: Dillon Overton

OU lefty Dillon Overton (Examiner.com)
Position:  LHP
Height/Weight:  6'2/180
School:  Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Dillon Overton got the start Friday against Pepperdine.  It was a cold, windy day in Norman and the game was expected to be a pitcher's duel with Overton being a possible first round selection.  However, it didn't turn out to be that way.  Below are notes I took from Overton's performance against Pepperdine.

First Inning:  The first thing I noticed was how simple Overton's pitching motion is.  He started the game off with a K with a CH low and in to a righty.  His arm motion for his changeup was solid; I couldn't detect much of a difference.

Second Inning:  Recorded another K after the hitter got caught looking.  Overton was really struggling with his FB command missing high most of the time.  It didn't seem like he was able to get a quick inning throughout the entire game until his later two innings.  Overton was laboring to get out of innings, but he still hadn't allowed a run.  Ended the inning with two strikeouts on low and away off-speed pitches.

Third Inning:  Continued struggling with FB command.  Another K on CH low and away.

Fourth Inning:  This is where things got ugly for Overton.  To give him a bit of a break, the Oklahoma offense went off the half-inning before scoring 7 runs.  It was a cold day and I'm sure the really long break had an effect on Overton.  He left a couple up to begin the inning which resulted in a run.  He allowed a 2-run double off his CH.  He got another K with his CH after setting the batter up with two straight FBs.  However, a high FB got hammered for a HR making the game 8-6 after heading into the inning with an 8-0 lead.  He ended this terrible inning with a big looping breaking ball for another K.

Fifth and Sixth Innings:  These two innings were probably Overton's best.  He had his first 1-2-3 inning in the 5th and then another quick inning in the 6th.

Overton finished the day with a line of 6 IP, 6 ER, 10 K, and 4 BB.

Overall Thoughts:  John Sickels sees Overton battling this season for a late first-round selection.  I'm an amateur scout, but I didn't definitely didn't see that today.  I saw OU fans stating that it was his worst performance of the year and as mentioned above, it was a cold day and he had a very, very long wait between the 3rd and 4th.  But, his fastball, which is around 88-89 MPH, was not effective at all and was struggling to command it.  His best pitch of the day was definitely his changeup.  In the first three innings, he was pounding the bottom of the zone with it when the fastball wasn't working.  He didn't have the same command with it in the 4th as he was leaving it up, but he bounced back in the 5th and 6th with keeping it down where it is at its best.

I caught Overton on a bad day, but even if he's on, I can't see his stuff being first-round worthy.  However, I'll bet he'll be an early round selection and he has the potential to be a crafty left-hander in the bigs especially with his changeup that struck out so many against Pepperdine.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Daily White Sox Farm Report - 2/27

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Nestor Molina throws during a spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Surprise, Ariz. Photo: Charlie Riedel
Nestor Molina
I have't been very active lately, so sorry for that.  Below are a couple of White Sox tidbits over the past few days.

- So far, the White Sox are 2-0 3-0 and are winning late right now against beat the Dodgers today.

- Below are the batting stats for Sox prospects:

C Kevan Smith - 1 for 2
SS Marcus Semien - 2 for 3, RBI
C Byran Anderson - 2 for 4
C Hector Gimenez - 2 for 4, RBI, BB
C Josh Phegley - 3 for 6, HR, 2 RBI, 2B
OF Jared Mitchell - 3 for 7, 2 RBI, 3B
1B Andy Wilkins - 3 for 8, 3 RBI, BB
3B Conor Gillaspie - 2 for 6, 4 RBI, 3B, BB
2B Carlos Sanchez - 1 for 5
SS Angel Sanchez - 1 for 6, 1 RBI
SS Tyler Saladino - 1 for 2, BB
OF Keenyn Walker - 1 for 6, BB
OF Blake Tekotte - 0 for 4, BB
OF Trayce Thomspn - 0 for 3, 2 BB

- I can't find the pitching stats, but Simon Castro started and threw 3 scoreless innings today against the Dodgers.

- SSS had a fantastic breakdown of Erik Johnson and Scott Snodgress the other day.  Would definitely check it out.

- Courtney Hawkins wasn't listed in the the top 101 prospects by Baseball Prospectus.  However, they did have this little write up on why:
He’s a Texan with a ton of natural athleticism and power potential, but outside of my amateur sources, nobody wanted to turn up their microphones and be heard. Like the aforementioned 100 prospects that had a case to be on the back half of this list, Hawkins could just as easily be no. 60 as he could no. 101. If you believe in the bat, even from a corner spot, he belongs on the list. But if you have doubts about the overall promise of the stick and don’t like the direction the body is heading, even with the back-flipping athleticism that is currently present, the case for exclusion is just as strong and compelling. When I’m in the mood for ceiling, Hawkins belongs on the 101.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

White Sox Acquire 3B Conor Gillaspie For RHP Jeff Soptic

No batting gloves? Gamer. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

The White Sox added some more infield depth today with the addition of Giants 3B Conor Gillaspie for Sox prospect Jeff Soptic.

First, here's what Rick Hahn had to say about the addition.
"(Gillaspie) conceivably fits in nicely on the roster, which we’ll obviously decide more about toward the end of next month," general manager Rick Hahn said. "But we see him having a solid hit tool, above-average awareness of the strike zone, solid defensively. He gives us a little versatility in his ability to play third base as well as first. He gives Robin (Ventura) some options potentially."
The 25-year old has spent the last two years playing in 130+ games for AAA Fresno in the Pacific Coast League.  2012 didn't prove to be as good of a year as 2011 for Gillaspie, but he still batted .281/.345/.441/.786 along with 14 HRs (an improvement from 11 in 2011).

Gillaspie's value to the Sox is the fact that he is a left-handed hitter and also gives more depth at third.  With this trade, Angel Sanchez will be used for the middle infield while Gillaspie will add depth to the corners.  Those two along with DeWayne Wise and Hector Gimenez will likely be the bench players on Opening Day.

With the addition of Gillaspie, Brent Morel will almost certainly start the season in the minors.  Also, because of the addition, newly acquired Lars Anderson has been DFA'd.

Now a little more on the loss of Jeff Soptic.  Soptic was drafted in the third round in 2011 out of community college in Kansas.  He possesses a big time fastball that could reportedly touch 100, but he struggled last year in Kannapolis with a 5.40 ERA.  Still, atleast the Giants got something in return for Gillaspie who was certainly going to be lost on waivers in a couple of weeks.  Soptic's big arm gives the Giants something to work with.

Overall, I like this trade for both teams.  The White Sox got what they needed; a lefty and more infield depth.  It's not flashy, but hopefully it will be effective.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Courtney Hawkins: The National View

Today the biggest name in baseball prospects, Baseball America, released their annual top 100 list.  The Sox only had one on the list as the Pale Hose's top prospect, OF Courtney, Hawkins came in at 55.  I knew that most (Keith Law didn't, I believe) experts and national writers see Hawkins as a top 100 prospect overall, so I was interested to see exactly where they have him ranked.  Below are various prospect lists that list Hawkins nationally.
If you know or can find any other lists which includes Hawkins, leave a comment and I'll add it.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 White Sox Spring Training Preview: Middle Infield

Top middle infield prospect Carlos Sanchez (Dashboard.mlblogs.com)
Continuing the spring training previews with the middle infield.  Shortstop and second base are set for Opening Day, but there will be some interesting story lines this spring with the two positions.  Below are links to the other spring training previews.
40-man roster:

Gordon Beckham (2B) - Look, Gordon Beckham won't have any competition in spring training and his job is secure for the beginning of the season.  But, there will be some pressure on Beckham to perform this year and if not, he'll feel Angel Sanchez and Carlos Sanchez on his heels for the spot.

Alexei Rameriz (SS) - Hopefully this spring can set the stage for a solid year for Alexei.  Alexei is a good player, but has room to improve, especially with his bat.

Angel Sanchez (3B/SS/2B) - The White Sox used the Rule 5 draft for the first time in several years to draft Angel Sanchez.  Sanchez will likely be the White Sox utility infielder this year.  Sanchez has had a cup of tea with the Royals, Red Sox, and Astros.  Last year with in the 'Stros organization, he batted .320/.390/.407 with 5 HRs in AAA last year.  Before that in 2011, Sanchez spent 110 games with the Astros.

Non-roster invites:

Carlos Sanchez (2B, SS, 3B) - There was some talk before the Jeff Keppinger signing that Sanchez would compete for the starting position at third in Arizona.  Now Keppinger is signed and Sanchez will start the year in the minors.  However, as a top prospect in the Sox organization, Sanchez can make a big impersonation in his first spring training.  If Beckham is injured or doesn't perform well this season, Sanchez will be in the mix for the spot.

Tyler Saladino (SS) - This will be a very important spring for Saladino who has to prove himself again. Saladino started his White Sox career with two great years, but struggled last year with a promotion to Birmingham.  Because of it, Saladino has fallen to fourth in my middle infield prospect rankings. Like I've said, it will be an important camp for Saladino

Marcus Semien (SS) - Semien batted 273/.362/.471, with 14  HRs and 11 SB last year.  Semien can improve his status as a top infield prospect with the Sox, but besides that, not much is expected of Semien in his first spring.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Daily White Sox Farm Report - 2/14

Catchers and pitchers have reported to Arizona which means baseball is that much closer.  Below are links to stories regarding the Sox and their prospects.

AAA.  Jared Mitchell will start the season in Charlotte.

Pitching prospects.  Gonzo tweets that pitching coach Don Cooper likes what he sees from top pitching prospects Scott Snodgress and Erik Johnson.
Everything will be okay.  Chuck Garfien reports that Robin Ventura declined a one-year contract extension.  Some fans are really overreacting, but it isn't a big deal.  Venture stills has two years left on his current contract and isn't really worried about 2015 right now.  If he wants to keep managing he will, if he doesn't, he won't.

The Return.  John Danks had his first session today in Arizona as you can see with this picture.

Ramon Troncoso.  Doug Padilla discusses non-roster invite RHP Ramon Troncoso.  Padilla talks about Troncoso's journey with the Dodgers and a line drive that went off his face in the Dominican this past winter.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scouting Report: Brandon Brennan


Position:  RHP
Height/Weight:  6'4/220
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  January 23th, 1991
Hometown/School:  San Juan Capistrano, CA - Orange Coast College

The White Sox spent their fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft on Brennan.  Because he was used heavily in college before the draft, the White Sox didn't give him a lot of time in 2012.  He appeared in 14 games and started 7 games.  He posted a 3-2 record, a 4.34 ERA, and a 1.607 WHIP with Great Falls.  

The Sox are having Brennan be a starter, but he may end up being placed in the bullpen later on in his development.  Brennan's sinking fastball is around 92-94 MPH and he is also developing a slider.  Baseball Prospect Nation placed him 14th among Sox prospects and MLB.com also had him 14th.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 White Sox Spring Training Preview: Corner Infield

Up next in the set of spring training previews are the first and third base positions.  Besides Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, no players have proven their worth with the White Sox yet.  Brent Morel struggled early last year, Kevin Youkilis is gone, Jeff Keppinger hasn't played with the White Sox yet, and nobody else below has seen the big leagues with the White Sox.  You can find the previews for the outfield here and catchers here.

40-man roster:

Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn - These guys are pretty good.  That can't be said for the rest of the corner infielders.

Jeff Keppinger (3B) - Rick Hahn decided to make Jeff Keppinger the guy at third.  Not many White Sox fans were screaming with joy after they heard the news of Keppinger's deal (12M/3yrs), but it is a solid addition.  Keppinger batted .325 last year and had an OPS north of .800.  Also, only Juan Pierre has struck out less in recent years than Keppinger.

Lars Anderson (1B) - Former top Red Sox prospect Lars Anderson was picked up by the White Sox earlier this month.  There's nothing Lars really brings to the White Sox that they need.  Expect Lars Anderson to fill the Dan Johnson role.

Angel Sanchez (3B/SS/2B) - The White Sox used the Rule 5 draft for the first time in several years to draft Angel Sanchez.  Sanchez will likely be the White Sox utility infielder this year.  Sanchez has had a cup of tea with the Royals, Red Sox, and Astros.  Last year with in the 'Stros organization, he batted .320/.390/.407 with 5 HRs in AAA last year.  Before that in 2011, Sanchez spent 110 games with the Astros.

Brent Morel (3B) - After a terrible start to the 2012 campaign and back problems, Morel was demoted to Charlotte.  Morel is feeling healthy again and he has a slight chance to be on the Opening Day roster.  If that were to happen, Morel would have to have a much better spring than Sanchez.  However, because Sanchez plays two positions, Sanchez has the definite advantage.

Non-roster invites:

Josh Bell (3B) - Like Lars Anderson, Bell was once a highly-touted prospect.  However, Bell has struggled mightily at the major league level.  In the past three years with the Orioles and Diamondbacks (100 games), Bell has batted below the Mendoza line and striking out way over 20% of the time.

Andy Wilkins (1B) - Wilkins is the only actual prospect in this bunch.  Wilkins belted 17 HRs in AA Birmingham last year and 40 in the last two years combined.  He participated in the Arizona Fall League and got off to a red hot start, but slowed down toward the end of the season.  Keep an eye on Wilkins this spring training.

Steve Tolleson (3B/SS) - The White Sox are the fifth organization that Tolleson has been a part of.  The White Sox signed Tolleson to a minor league deal back in November.  He spent last year with Baltimore where he batted .183/.227/.310 in 29 games.  Tolleson can play a little bit of everything (except 1B and C) and the White Sox see potential in him to become a utility player.  However, he's behind Angel Sanchez right now in that category.

Seth Loman (1B) - Loman has been in the White Sox system since 2009 and spent last year primarily with Birmingham.  He batted .276/.364/.453 and hit 16 HRs with the Barons.  However, he has been in the minors since 2006 and is currently 27-years old.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Analyzing MLB.com's Top 20 White Sox Prospect List

MLB.com released their prospect rankings for teams in the AL Central today and you can find the White Sox rankings here.  Although I haven't released my rankings, below are my thoughts on this list.

- MLB.com continues the trend for the most part of putting Courtney Hawkins (#1), Trayce Thompson (#2), Erik Johnson (#3), and Carlos Sanchez (#4) as the top four.  This seems to be (except for a few) the consensus in the industry.

- The first think that pops out to me is OF Jared Mitchell coming in at #5.  You should know by now that I'm not as high on Jared Mitchell as others including this list.  I mean at #5, really?  He hasn't been the same since his injury.  He batted .237 last year while having a K% of over 30%.  He's got some upside to him; 11 HRs, 21 SBs, and had a decent OPS considering his AVG last year.  Also, he isn't too far away from the majors.  However, no way does Jared Mitchell belong in the top 5.

- Next up is Nestor Molina at #10.  Molina entered 2012 as probably the top prospect in the system, but had a miserable year compared to 2011.  He had a losing record, a 4.55 ERA, and a WHIP north of 1.5.  For me, if Molina is even going to be considered a top 10 prospect, he is going to have to show me that he can get remotely close to what he once was (2011) in 2013.

- Jhan Marinez at #13 might be a little bit of a stretch.  Still will should be a nice reliever who can see more time in Chicago this year.

- The same can be said for Brandon Brennan.

- Simon Castro probably should be bumped up a few spots.  In my pitcher rankings, I had Simon Castro 4th.  So Leesman, Marinez, Brennan, Beck, and Molina should be behind Castro in my opinion.

- I would put both Joey DeMichele and Marcus Semien above some of those pitchers that I just listed above.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2013 White Sox Spring Training: Catchers

Tyler Flowers gets his first opportunity to be an every day player. (ESPN.com)
I continue my spring training previews with the catcher position (check out the outfield preview here).  The White Sox will enter a season with a player not named A.J. Pierzynski starting at catcher for the first time since 2004.  Below are previews and profiles of all the catchers that will be with the White Sox in Arizona in a couple of weeks.

40-man roster:

Tyler Flowers - Well, Flowers got his wish as he'll be the everyday starter after A.J. Pierzynski signed with the Rangers.  We know who Flowers is, so no more time on him.

Hector Gimenez - Gimenez is the favorite entering spring training to win the backup job.  The 30-year old Venezuelan was signed by the White Sox last year and appeared in 5 games with the Sox where he totaled 5 hits and a RBI.  Besides those games, Gimenez spent his year with AAA Charlotte.  In 99 games, he batted .259/.324/.440/.764 with 14 HRs and 57 RBIs.  Having only 11 games in the majors since 2006, this will likely be Gimenez's first time that he will get some actual meaningful playing time.

Josh Phegley - Phegley enters the 2013 season as the top catcher prospect in the organization.  Phegley seems to be a low-ceiling, high floor type of prospect.  He had average numbers (.266/.306 /.373/.680) last year in his first full year with Charlotte.  He has a pretty good arm that threw out 46% of runners which helped him earn a MiLB Gold Glove award.

Non-roster invites:

Bryan Anderson - This will be Anderson's first year with the Sox after they signed him in November.  Anderson will provide the biggest competition for Gimenez for the backup catcher position. The 26-year old had a chance last year to win the backup catcher spot with the Cardinals, but ended up in AAA for most of the year (did have a few bats with St. Louis).  Anderson has been well-seasoned with 170+ PAs in AAA Memphis in every season since 2008.  2012 was a tough year for Anderson, batting .225/.302/.317 and posting a 22.7 K%.  But, he is left-handed which the White Sox value.

Michael Blanke - Blanke spent 2012 with Winston-Salem where he was average offensively (.240/.303/.399/.702).  However, he did show a little pop with 10 HRs.  His CS% was down a little from 2011 (37%) to 31% in 2012.  Baseball Prospect Nation did list him on their 2012 All-Prospect Team for the Carolina League.

Kevan Smith - In my top catcher prospects list, I ranked Smith second and I just did a scouting report/profile on him.  He threw out 33% runners last year and was also named a South Atlantic League All-Star.  I'm a little higher on Kevan Smith than most.  Yes, I do know that Smith is a older (24) for A+ ball and people have to remember that, but his past as a BCS-level QB (athleticism) and his production (1.073 and .772 OPS in his first two years) make him an interesting prospect to watch.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Daily White Sox Farm Report - 2/5

US Cellular Field (andrewclem.com)
I haven't done a Daily White Sox Farm Report in a really, really long time.  Hopefully, with the season getting closer and closer, more content and news will appear.  Below are some stories/articles dealing with the Sox that have happened in the past few days.

Trayce Thompson.  Today, prospect expert John Sickels did a prospect report on Trayce Thompson.  Here is just a small excerpt from the report:
He's a very good center fielder. I remain quite impressed with his tools, and I think the chance that he'll figure out how to use them is getting better. It isn't a slam dunk, and he needs a full year against Double-A pitching (and probably another year against Triple-A pitching) to fully adapt. That would put him challenging for a regular job in 2015, which seems like a long time from now, but he'll still be just 24.
Another White Sox prospect list.  South Side Sox released their top 10 list yesterday in two parts (part one and part deux).  It really is a great list with tons and tons of content and I suggest reading it.  SSS went against the grain of basically all national lists with putting both Scott Snodgress and Andre Rienzo ahead of Erik Johnson (Johnson was a top 4 prospect on almost all lists).  Recently, I've seen more and more lists place Jefferson Olacio toward the top (comes in at #10 at SSS).  Check out my profile on him if you aren't familiar with Olacio.

Hooray, we're not last.  Keith Law released his farm rankings($) and the White Sox aren't last unlike last year.  However, they are still near the bottom of the league at 28th.  John Sickels released his last week and the White Sox are also 28th on the list (Detroit is last, by the way).

ICYMI.  The White Sox signed former top Red Sox prospect Lars Anderson on Friday and I started spring training previews with the outfield.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Scouting Report: Nestor Molina

Nestor Molina (ESPN.com)
Position:  RHP
Height/Weight:  6'1/180
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  January 9th, 1989
Hometown:  Valencia, Venezuela

Molina was acquired from Toronto in the Sergio Santos trade.  Once Santos became a member of the White Sox, he automatically became a top prospect in the system.  Most even had him as the top prospect entering the 2012 season.  He quickly lost that top ranking with a disappointing 2012 season.  In 2012, he had a record of 6-11, an ERA of 4.55, and a 1.516 WHIP mostly with AA Birmingham.  While those numbers aren't God-awful, they are pretty ugly comparing them to 2011's (sub-1 WHIP, 2.21 ERA, 12-3 record, etc.).

Molina wasn't always a starter.  He began as an infielder, then a reliever, and eventually got the chance to start in 2011 with Toronto on a consistent basis.  While he had a rough 2012, he still has great control and command posting  1.9 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 rates.  His arsenal includes a fastball that ranges from 90-92 MPH and can reach 94 and a 84-86 MPH splitter (considered his best pitch).

Add Molina to the "will be interesting to watch in 2013" list.  Can he bounce back from a down year and return or get close to where he was with the Jays?  Will they stick with him as a starter or eventually move him back to the bullpen?

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Friday, February 1, 2013

White Sox Claim Lars Anderson

Today, the White Sox claimed first baseman Lars Anderson off of waivers.  Anderson was involved in a trade between the Indians and the Diamondbacks just last December after being traded from the Red Sox to the Indians in July.  The White Sox now have added a left-handed bat, which they can't have enough of.  However, unless there are injuries to both Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, don't expect to see Anderson on the South Side for any extended period of time.

Anderson was once a highly touted prospect with the Red Sox.  He was the top prospect with the Red Sox and a top 20 prospect overall in baseball earlier in his career.  Anderson hasn't lived up to the hype and his career so far can be summed up in one word; bust.  Yet, Anderson is only 25-years old so there is still a glimmer of hope that he can become a productive player.

Last year, he batted .250/.353/.396/.750 with 9 HRs in AAA.  He'll be back in the International League with Charlotte again this year.

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2013 White Sox Spring Training Preview: The Outfield

It's a great feeling that spring training is only a month away.  To get ready for spring training, I'm starting previews by position.  Leading off is the outfield.  The players are broken down into two categories; players on the 40-man roster and players that have received non-roster invitations.

40-man roster:

Jordan Danks, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Dayan Viciedo, and DeWayne Wise - I'm not going to spend time talking about these guys.  We all know who they are and what they bring to the team.  All of these players are going to be in the White Sox uniform at one time or another.  De Aza, Rios, and Viciedo will be the starters on Opening Day and Wise has the slight edge to be the 4th OFer.

Jared Mitchell - If you've read this blog, you'll know that I'm not as high on Mitchell as some others are.  He's got plus athleticism, nice speed (it isn't what it was pre-injury), and does have a higher ceiling.  However, his stats haven't been much in recent years and Mitchell has really struggled to make contact, striking out over 30% of the time in the past two years.  He's behind Wise, Tekotte, and Danks on the depth chart for me.

Blake Tekotte - In one of Rick Hahn's first moves, the Sox traded RHP Brandon Kloess for OF Blake Tekotte from the Padres.  Tekotte was a top 20 prospect in San Diego's organization last year according to some.  Injuries have slowed Tekotte down and he had an average year in 2012 in the minors, batting .243 in AAA.  However, he does bring some value to the Sox.  First, he is left-handed which the Sox could use.  Also, in 2011, Tekotte stole 36 bases.  Tekotte can challenge Danks for his 4th OF spot in camp or be called up later in the year from Charlotte in case of injuries. 

Non-roster invites:

Trayce Thompson - This is Thompson's first spring training.  Thompson is undoubtedly a top prospect in the White Sox system heading into 2013.  Thompson has great power (25 homers in 2012) and is also a threat on the base paths (21 SBs in 2012).  Hopefully he continues to improve his plate discipline like he did in the Arizona Fall Leauge.  Thompson isn't going to crack the Opening Day roster or move past Tekotte, Danks, Mitchell, and Wise, but he can further solidify himself as a top prospect in the organization.

Stefan Gartrell - Gartrell is back again with the club that drafted him in the 31st round in 2006.  Last year, with the Braves organization, he hit .251/.335/.452 in AAA.  He's got some pop and has hit 20+ HRs in each season in the minors since 2009.  At 29-years old, Gartell has never made it to the majors and barring a string of injuries, probably won't leave Charlotte this year.  However, Gartrell is a nice AAA player and Charlotte will benefit with him.

Keenyn Walker - Like Thompson, this will be Walker's first spring training too.  What Walker brings to the table is his speed.  He has plus-plus speed which helped him steal 56 bases last year and also has potential for some power.  Nobody is going to actually give Walker any chance of making the White Sox lineup this year, but like Thompson, he can show his value as a top prospect especially coming off an offseason surgery.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Minnesota Twins Prospects Preview

Top Twins prospect, Miguel Sano. (FoxSportsNorth.com)
Minnesota Twins prospect expert Seth Stohs, of Twins Daily, was kind enough to take some time and answer my questions about the Twins farm system.  We talk about Minnesota's top two prospects, prospects that Sox fans will see see in 2013 with the Twins, underrated/overlooked prospects, and Minnesota's minor league system as a whole.  Again, check out Seth's work over at Twins Daily and keep up with our AL Central rivals by following him on Twitter.

Pale Hose Prospectus: You, and many others, have 3B Miguel Sano as the top prospect in the Twins system. Can you give White Sox fans a little scouting report on Sano? How high is his ceiling? Are the Giancarlo Stanton comparisons warranted?

Seth Stohs: Sano has immense power potential. He had 28 homers in the Midwest League as a 19 year old. He is huge. He is about 6-4 and probably 240 pounds, very strong, very athletic. The question remains about whether he will be able to remain at 3B. I think he can, with a lot of work, but most think he'll move to RF or 1B at some point. He has Stanton-like power, no question. Will he make enough contact, we shall see.

PHP: The Twins spent the #2 overall pick last year on high schooler Byron Buxton from Georgia. You rank Buxton second in your top 30 list. From reports, it seems that Buxton can legitimately be a five-tool player. What else can you tell us about Buxton?

SS: Buxton is a tremendous athlete with tools that are off the charts. His speed is on par with the fastest players in baseball, including Bill Hamilton. He has tremendous range in centerfield and a very powerful arm. In high school, he pitched his team to the state champion with a 98 mph fastball. He is long and lanky, resembling BJ Upton, but he does have power and the belief is that he will develop more power. He will need to make more contact (although we shouldn't make too much of his first season in pro ball) to be able to hit for average. He has a chance to be pretty special, and there are a lot of people who have Sano and Buxton flip-flopped atop the Twins ranking.

PHP: Are there any prospects right now that Sox fans can expect to make an impact with the Twins in 2013?

SS: There are actually several prospects that the Twins and their fans will see in 2013. Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson will both be given a shot to be the Twins starting centerfielder on Opening Day. Both are tremendous athletes with great speed and range and very strong arms. Benson was hurt throughout 2012 which cost him his season. Hicks finally put up numbers that filled the stat line. Also, Oswaldo Arcia was the Twins minor league hitter of the month. He hit well in 2012 at Ft. Myers, but was even better when he moved up to AA New Britain. The right fielder is a pure hitter with power to all fields. We should see him sometime in the middle of the season. On the mound, Kyle Gibson returns from Tommy John surgery and it will be interesting to see how the Twins bring him back. Will he start the season in the bullpen? Will he start the season as a starter and be shut down late in the season like Stephen Strasburg? I guess we'll see. Late in the season, we might see recent acquisitions, RHPs Alex Meyer and Trevor May.

PHP: Are there any prospects that don't get a lot of attention that you really like?

SS: I love the power potential of 1B Kennys Vargas who looks the part of David Ortiz on the field. I've always been high on SS Daniel Santana as a speed, glove, range guy. I think that BJ Hermsen has been undervalued because he doesn't strikeout many batters or hit high velocities, but he is very smart and very successful. Finally, I'm intrigued by the Twins 2012 college relief pitcher draft picks. Some are very hard throwing (Zack Jones) and several will be given an opportunity to start (Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, Tyler Duffey). How they progress is what intrigues me the most.

PHP: Finally, how do you feel about Minnesota's farm system overall? John Sickels just ranked the system 7th overall, do you agree with that?

SS: I don't really pay attention to the other organizations as thoroughly, so I can't tell you if 7th is about right or not. That said, I haven't been this excited about a group of Twins prospects in at least a half-dozen years. The acquisitions or Alex Meyer and Trevor May to go along with guys like Gibson, JO Berrios and Hermsen give the Twins some pitchers to be excited about. Those 2012 picks are very exciting. But to have a Top 10 that starts with guys like Sano, Buxton, Arcia, Meyer, Hicks, Gibson, Berrios and Eddie Rosario is exciting, and there are a lot more players who look like potential role players in the big leagues too. The system is definitely much improved!

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Scouting Report: Kevan Smith

Kevan Smith (MiLB.com)
Position:  C
Height/Weight:  6'4/240
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  June 28th, 1988
Hometown/School:  Harmony, PA - University of Pittsburgh

Smith was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh in the 7th round in 2011.  He was originally recruited by Pitt to play quarterback and he did.  He started three games for the Panthers and then decided to switch to baseball.  In the three years at Pitt, he batted over .360 each year.  In his first year with the White Sox (2011), he batted .355/.448/.626 and slugged over 1.000 with Great Falls and Bristol.  Last year, he came back down to Earth with promotions to Kannapolis and Winston-Salem.  Still, he combined to hit .281/.338/.434 and had an OPS of .772 along with 10 HRs.  Those numbers earned him a spot on the South Atlantic League All-Star roster.  While he has been hot in his first two years in the minors, remember that he did go to college and is 24-years old.

Obviously, Smith is very athletic having played QB on a BCS-level team.  Defensively, Smith allowed 11 passed balls last year and posted a .993 Fld%.  With Smith's background as a college QB, Smith possesses a strong arm which threw out 33% of base runners.  While Kevan Smith is older for the level he is playing at (A and A+ last year), Smith's production makes him an intriguing prospect.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Scouting Report: Rangel Ravelo

Rangel Ravelo (CPR Photography)
Position:  3B
Height/Weight:  6'2/210
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  April 24th, 1992
Hometown/School:  Hialeah, FL - Hialeah HS

Ravelo was taken by the White Sox in the 6th round back in 2010.  After batting .254 in 48 games with Bristol in 2010, Ravelo had a great season in 2011, batting .338/.381/.415 along with a .795 OPS combined with Bristol and Kannapolis.  Ravelo got off to another hot start in 2012, but cooled down later in the season.  Still, he batted .290/.343/.397 with an OPS of .739 in 76 games and was named a South Atlantic League All-Star.  However, in early July he left the team because of personal reasons and never returned.

Rangel Ravelo will be back with the White Sox this year according to FutureSox.  While Ravelo has put up some great numbers and a 1.9 SO/BB ratio, there are some concerns surrounding Ravelo (besides him leaving the team).  First, Ravelo has only hit 3 homers so far in his career (187 games).  Defensively, Ravelo committed 15 errors last year which leaves some to believe he will eventually move from third to first base.  If Ravelo can develop some power (usually the last tool to develop for prospects) and cut down on the errors, he can become a very nice prospect in the White Sox organization because it seems that the bat is there.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Top 5 White Sox Pitching Prospects

Simon Castro (MiLB.com)
1. Erik Johnson - RHP- Johnson seems to be the unanimous choice for the top pitching prospect in the Sox system.  Johnson was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft out of Cal.  Johnson only appeared in 2 games with Great Falls in 2011, but made 17 starts in 2012 with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem.  He only had a record of 6-5, but had a 2.53 ERA, a 1.202 WHIP, and a 8.5 KO/9 rate.

At 6'3/240+, Johnson has a body built for him to become an innings eater.  Johnson possesses two plus pitches in his arsenal; his fastball and slider.  Projections on Johnson seem to differ, I've seen reports that see him as a #4 starter and some as high as a #2 starter.  Either way, expect to see Johnson on the South Side in the next year or two.

2. Scott Snodgress - LHP - Snodgress was taken in the 5th round (2011) out of Stanford where he had an underwhelming career.  Snodgress worked out of the bullpen when he was with the Cardinal, but the White Sox gave him a chance to start.  Snodgress has made the most of the opportunity.  The 6'5 lefty posted a 7-3 record last year with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem along with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.248 WHIP, and a 8.2 SO/9 ratio.

His fastball is in the low-90s and his breaking ball, which he has been developing, has been superb.  Whether Snodgress can continue down the path of a starter or return to the bullpen remains unknown.  However, a 7-3 record in his first full year as a starter is great start.

3. Andre Rienzo - RHP - It seems that I've talked about Andre Rienzo more than any other player so far on this blog.  2012 was the Brazilian's best and breakout year which has seen him explode up the rankings in the White Sox organization.  His stats from last year with Winston-Salem, Birmingham, and a start with Charlotte: a 7-3 record, a 2.53 ERA, and a 1.161 WHIP.  He also put up some great numbers in the AFL this past fall except for one really, really bad inning.

He has a mid-90s fastball, a good curveball, and a developing curveball in his repertoire.  Of course, before his big year, Rienzo had to serve a 50-game suspension for PED usage which he denies.  Like Snodgress, whether Rienzo is a back-end starter or a reliever is unknown.

4. Simon Castro - RHP - Castro was part of the Carlos Quentin trade.  While with San Diego, Castro was considered to be one of the top prospects in the organization and a top 100 prospect overall.  After a disappointing 2011, Castro had a nice first year with the Pale Hose in 2012.  With Bristol, Birmingham, and Charlotte he recorded a 7-5 record, a 3.85 ERA, and a 1.291 WHIP.

Castro primarily uses his fastball/slider combination.  The 4-seam fastball can touch 95, but is usually in the low-90s and the slider, his best pitch, is big league ready right now.  He also works in a 83-85 MPH changeup.  Like Johnson, his projection varies from a back-end starter up to a #2 starter.

5. Chris Beck - RHP - Many thought Beck was going to be a mid-first round selection in the 2012 draft, Beck fell back to 76th overall after a mediocre year with Georgia Southern.  With Great Falls last year, Beck had a 4-3 record, a 4.69 ERA, a 1.562 WHIP, and a 8.0 SO/9 rate.

There was some concern that Beck may have lost some velocity on his fastball after bulking up, but he is back to touching 95 MPH.  He also has two pretty good breaking pitches in a slider and a changeup.  Most see Beck as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher with the Sox.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scouting Report: Jefferson Olacio

Position:  LHP
Height/Weight:  6'7/230
Bats/Throws:  Left/Left
Birthday:  January 16th, 1994
Hometown:  Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Olacio will be an intriguing prospect to follow over the next couple of years.  He signed with the Sox back in 2010 for $125,000.  His measurables are through the roof.  As a 19-year old, he possesses a great build at 6'7/230+.  Already his fastball reaches 94-95 MPH.

Olacio, like just about every other 19-year old, is extremely raw and it shows in his numbers.  Last year with Bristol and Kannapolis, he had a ERA north of 5.00, a 1.708 WHIP, a nice SO/9 at 8.3, but a 6.0 BB/9 rate.  Obviously those stats aren't good, but don't pay too much attention to them.  The potential is there and Olacio has plenty of time/room to improve his command.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Scouting Report: Marcus Semien

Position:  SS
Height/Weight:  6'1/190
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  September 17th, 1990
Hometown/School:  El Cerrito, California - California

Semien was drafted by the White Sox twice, once back in 2008 in the 34th round and then in 2011 during the 6th round.  Semien played his college ball at Cal where he was teammates with top White Sox pitching prospect Erik Johnson.

In 2011, Semien appeared in 60 games with Kannapolis in 2011 where he batted .253/.320/.376 while adding 3 HRs.  In 2012, Semien was promoted to Winston-Salem where he improved on his numbers and showed some pop.  Semien's numbers from last year include a .273/.362/.471 line, 14  HRs, 11 SB (5 CS), and a .137 improvement in OPS.

By reports, Semien's glove and range is solid for him to stay at shortstop.  Below is about the only excerpt about Semien I could find after his 2012 season.

John Sickels:
Another solid infielder, showed surprising pop in High-A and was very hot in the second half. Steady glove.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Composite 2013 White Sox Top 10 Prospects

Keenyn Walker ranks 6th.

With many of the national scouting/prospect/minor-league sites releasing their top prospect lists including the Pale Hose's.  Below is a composite ranking of these four lists (will update with Baseball Prospectus' list).  Below the player's name is the rankings from each of the four lists and the total of these rankings (lower numbers are better).  The four lists are from Baseball America, John Sickels, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospect Nation.  To nobody's surprise, Courtney Hawkins is the unanimous top prospect in the White Sox system.

1. Courtney Hawkins
Baseball America - 1
John Sickels - 1
FanGraphs - 1
Baseball Prospect Nation - 1

2. Trayce Thompson
BA - 2
JS - 3
FG - 4
BPN - 2
Total: 11

2. Carlos Sanchez
BA - 3
JS - 2
FG - 2
BPN - 4
Total: 11

4. Erik Johnson
BA - 4
JS - 4
FG - 3
BPN - 3
Total: 14

5. Scott Snodgress
BA - 6
JS - 5
FG - 6
BPN - 6
Total: 23

6. Keenyn Walker
BA - 5
JS - 6
FG - 5
BPN - 11
Total: 27

7. Andre Rienzo
BA - 7
JS - 8
FG - 7
BPN - 5
Total: 27

8. Chris Beck
BA - 10
JS - 10
FG - 8
BPN - 8
Total: 36

9. Keon Barnum
BA - 8
JS - 9
FG - 9
BPN - 12
Total: 38

10. Jared Mitchell
BA - 9
JS - 14
FG - 11
BPN - 7
Total: 41

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Top 5 White Sox Middle Infield Prospects

1. Carlos Sanchez (2B) - Sanchez is the obvious choice for the top spot on this list.  Sanchez exploded up the White Sox prospect rankings after a great 2012.  He started with Winston-Salem and ended the season in Charlotte.  Sanchez had his best year in 2012, batting .323/.403/.781 while swiping 26 bases.

If you follow the White Sox system, I'm sure you are familiar with Sanchez.  Therefore I'm not going to spend more time talking about him.

2. Joey DeMichele (2B) - As John Sickels put it, DeMichele "seems oddly overlooked."  DeMichele was drafted out of Arizona State in the 3rd round in 2012.  After a leading ASU in batting average (won Pac-10 hitting title his sophomore year), steals, and triples, DeMichele batted .275/.334/.479 with 7 homers last year in the minors.

According to reports, DeMichele has a high floor and a ceiling of being a solid everyday starter.

3. Marcus Semien (SS) - Semien was drafted in the 6th round by the Sox in the 2011 draft.  From reading pre-draft reviews of Semien, scouts were not in love with his bat.  Before 2012, he homered 13 times in his career with Cal and his first year in the minors.  Last year, he showed a lot of surprising pop, hitting 14 with Winston-Salem.  He also hit 5 triples and 31 doubles last year in the Carolina League.

The power outburst from Semien last year makes Semien one of the more intriguing prospects to watch in 2013.

4. Tyler Saladino (SS) - After a solid first two years in the White Sox organization, Saladino struggled mightily in 2012.  In his first two years in the minors, Saladino batted .305/.390/.437 (2010 with Bristol and Kannapolis) and .270/.363/.501 (2011 with Winston-Salem).  Last year, the 23-year old struggled with his promotion to Birmingham (and a little time with Charlotte) as he hit .236/.353/.315.  Saladino, despite gaining more plate discipline last year, had an OPS of .668 after having an OPS of .826 and .864 the years prior.  He lost almost all of his power (4 HRs in 2012 compared to 16 in 2011).

Hopefully 2012 was just a fluke for Saladino.  With his improved plate discipline and 2010 and 2011 years, Saladino stays on this list.

5. Micah Johnson (2B) - Johnson was taken by the Pale Hose last year in the 9th round.  Johnson played his college ball at Indiana where he was second team All-Big Ten in 2011.  The 22-year old hit .273/.375/.391 while stealing 19 bases in 69 games with Great Falls last year.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

White Sox Announce 20 Non-Roster Invites to Spring Training

Today, the White Sox came to terms with seven minor league contracts.  These players are as followed: RHP Jeff Gray, RHP Ramon Troncoso, LHP David Purcey, CBryan Anderson, INF Josh Bell, INF Steve Tolleson, and OF Stefan Gartrell.  Also, thirteen more White Sox prospects received non-roster invites to Camelback Ranch.  Those players are RHP Erik Johnson, RHP Jacob Petricka, LHP Daniel Moskos, LHP Scott Snodgress, CMichael Blanke, C Kevan Smith, 1B Seth Loman, SS Tyler Saladino, 2B Carlos Sanchez, SS Marcus Semien, 1B Andy Wilkins, OF Trayce Thompson, and OF Keenyn Walker.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Scouting Report: Chris Beck

Position:  RHP
Height/Weight:  6'3/210
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  September 4th, 1990
Hometown/School:  Jefferson, GA - Georgia Southern

Once thought to be a mid-first round selection, Beck slipped to 76th overall after a disappointing junior year at Georgia Southern.  However, he is still considered a top pitching prospect in the system.

Beck's body is built for durability according to BPN.  After losing some velocity last year with Great Falls, Beck has reportedly found it again and is back to touching 95 with potential to develop some movement with it.  He also possesses two plus breaking pitches in a slider and changeup.

With Great Falls last year, Beck posted a 4-3 record with a 4.69 ERA along with a 1.562 WHIP.  While those numbers are average, there is hope that Beck can improve next year especially after a 3.00 SO/BB ratio last year.  Below are some other scouting reports on Beck:

A Georgia native who's already shown the ability to maintain a 95mph fastball deep into starts, White Sox prospect Chris Beck is a righthander with the usual college pedigree: he's only a year or two away from MLB ready, and when he arrives he should be adept at pounding the lower half of the strike zone while mixing in two different better-than-average breaking pitches to boot.

Baseball Prospect Nation:
Solid to plus raw stuff across the board with some projection to improve more as he matures physically and mentally. Not a ton of physical projection remaining. Relies heavily on FB and needs to use it to set up the breaking ball and CH. Still learning finer points of pitching and defense, but has intelligence and should get it with time. If CH and command gain consistency, very real potential to be a number three with a chance to overstep that and become a number two in his best years.

I’m told Beck had an excellent fall instructional league with the White Sox and had his fastball back up to 95 mph. “He’s loosened up and his arm strength is back,” a talent evaluator stated. His slider is also becoming more consistent again. Beck also has a cutter and changeup. He could open 2013 in high-A ball if he has a strong spring training. His ceiling is that of an innings-eating middle-of-the-rotation arm.
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Scouting Report: Andre Rienzo

Position:  RHP
Height/Weight:  6'3/165
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  July 5th, 1988
Hometown:  Sao Paulo, Brazil

Andre Rienzo was signed out of Brazil by the White Sox back in 2006.  Rienzo has catapulted up the White Sox prospect rankings after a stellar 2012 campaign.  Rienzo ended the year with a 7-3 record, a 2.53 ERA, and a 1.161 WHIP.  However, before his success in 2012, he served a 50-game suspension for PED usage.  Rienzo went on to have a successful year in the AFL and besides one dreadful inning, he put up great stats.

Rienzo, as you can tell by his height and weight, has a lanky frame.  However, his fastball can reach mid-90s and is very impressive according to scouts.  He also possesses a good curveball and is developing a cutter.

Scouts seem to be mixed on whether Rienzo will stay a starter or move to the bullpen when he enters the big leagues.

Below are some scouting reports on Rienzo:

A talented righthanded strikeout artist from Brazil, White Sox prospect Andre Rienzo has the stuff and guile to succeed as a big-league reliever, even if that stuff came with its share of chemical enhancement last season. After serving a 50 game PED suspension, Rienzo returned to struck out almost ten batters per nine innings across three levels of play, mainly at AA Birmingham. He can dial his fastball up to 98, or maybe even a bit more than that in short use, and the average slider he mixes in should be enough to keep hitters honest. His changeup, a so-so one at best, shouldn't be a factor unless he returns to starting duty.

Baseball Prospect Nation:
Don’t see starter profile. Control profile hurts overall projection and limits any available command projection. Lack of change-up in arsenal is worrisome and hurts against LHH. FB-CB combo could play nicely in short stints. CT can be an interesting third pitch to add a little wrinkle. Size – and subsequent stamina – is a concern. If forced to start, likely #5 at best. If FB plays up in relief with improved strike throwing, setup potential exists. Could reach MLB quickly in relief, similar to Nathan Jones in 2012.

John Sickels:
Season marred by PED suspension but he pitched well in Double-A. Nice low-90s fastball, secondary stuff has improved, still working on command. Fourth starter or a relief option down the line. From Brazil.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Analyzing FanGraphs' Top 15 White Sox Prospect List

Earlier today, FanGraphs released their top 15 White Sox Prospect list which can be found here.  Although I have yet to release my rankings (which I hope to have done within the month), below are some comments and analysis on this particular list.

- To nobody's surprise, Courtney Hawkins tops the list.  He seems to be the consensus pick for the top Sox prospect and I have yet to see a list without Hawkins at the top.

- OF Trayce Thompson, OF Courtney Hawkins, 2B Carlos Sanchez, and RHP Erik Johnson have been in the top four so far in the three big lists that have been released so far (FanGraphs, Baseball America, and John Sickels).

- I think many fans who follow the farm system are surprised to see RHP Simon Castro off the list and Jacob Petricka on it.  John Sickels didn't even have Jacob Petricka in his top 25 while Castro was 11th (and that might have been to low).

- Two other surprises on this list to me are 1B Andy Wilkins and C Sammy Ayala.  In my top 5 catchers list, I had Ayala 3rd behind Josh Phegley and Kevan Smith.  Ayala, while he may very well end up being better than the other two in the future, he hasn't done anything yet.  Wilkins was left off of John Sickels' top 25 after he struggled last year hitting-wise.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scouting Report: Luis Castillo

Position:  3B
Height/Weight:  6'2/205
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  1996
Hometown:  San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Luis Castillo was signed by the White Sox for $450,000 back in mid-July.  At 6'2/205+, the 16-year old Dominican has been described as a man child by many.  Because he is so young, he hasn't had a chance to take an at bat in the White Sox organization.  Here is the only video I can find on this young talent.
At first site Castillo is impressive physically, he’s a man child, and when he starts swing the bat he makes your attention draw closer. He extends his arms and squares up pitches with authority. He has quick hand through the hitting zone and his bat path is consistently on an even plane. He doesn't produce much elevation with his swing but he hits the ball harder than any player on the field. Castillo is a dead pull hitter learning how to use the entire field. Defensively he has good lateral movement, average hands and makes routine plays. His arm strength is average and he runs well for a big guy. His raw athletic talent makes him a prospect to take note of, he has the tools that transfer into production on the diamond.

Baseball Prospect Nation ranked him 15th in their 2013 White Sox prospect rankings:
A $450,000 splurge on the international market in July, the 16-year old Castillo could become a serious prospect in this system. He has a mature frame with good natural strength and the potential to add more. He easily drives the ball to all fields and shows hints of plus power down the line. A raw third baseman, Castillo has arm strength and will occasionally show decent actions at the position. His developmental path will be a long one but he could ultimately become a classic, physical third baseman with power.